Overwhelmed at the grocery store? Who isn’t? So many crackers, cereals, yogurts, granola bars to choose from. How do you know which ones are actually good for you? Answering three questions before purchasing any product will narrow down the choices and grocery shopping will be easier!
An important step in evaluating a food product is to ignore the packaging
Keep in mind, the food company wants your money and creates a package with striking colors, pictures, and health claims designed to sell their product. Popular words on packages are “high protein” “whole grains” and “good source of fiber, therefore ignore the packaging.
The next step is to zero in on the ingredients and ask these three questions:
Question 1; Are there about 5 ingredients or less?
Many packaged foods have numerous ingredients. Start reading the ingredients on the products in your food cabinet, refrigerator and freezer and you will be surprised about all of the ingredients you are eating. Some products have 50 ingredients! If the product has about five ingredients or less, it is a plus. Fewer ingredients = less processed.
If it has more than 5 ingredients, look for another option.
Question 2: Can you pronounce the ingredients?
Whole plant-based food has ingredients you can easily pronounce such as apple, raisins, oats, brown rice. When the ingredients include words such as hydrogenated, butylated hydroxytoluene, and monosodium glutamate that are challenging to pronounce, it is a red flag that the food product is highly processed.
If you cannot pronounce the ingredients, look for a better option.
Question 3: Do you know what the ingredients are?
Another red flag is if you need to look up the ingredients to figure out what it is you are eating. Highly processed foods contain unknown ingredients and additives that are not food and are more harmful than helpful.
The food product is essentially created in a lab and is a science experiment. EWG’s Dirty Dozen Guide to Food notes 12 additives to watch out for in products.
If you do not know what the ingredients are, look for a better option.
Bottom Line: Read It, Before You Eat It
The most nutritious foods are whole foods meaning fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds. however, eating 100% whole foods can be challenging. Therefore when choosing packaged foods, be sure it is an awesome choice.
If the answer was yes to ALL 3 QUESTIONS, it is a positive sign the product is a thumbs up. If you answered no to one or more of the questions, place the product back on the shelf and look for an alternative.
Cracker Detective Experiment:
Next time you are at the grocery store, check out the ingredients for the following three crackers:
- Original Triscuits
- Wheat Thins
- Whole Wheat Ritz Crackers
Which cracker passed all three questions? Which one was the worst option?
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