When grocery shopping (which many of us do in a hurry), it’s difficult to know what to watch out for on the nutrition labels of food. Having limited scientific knowledge, not everyone knows exactly what the ingredients contain or even how to pronounce a lot of them. On the bright side, it’s possible to narrow down the most important things to avoid with these tips.
Tip #1: Check the serving size before looking at other nutritional information.
It’s true that looks can be deceiving, and even more so when it comes to food labeling. Reading a food label can prove difficult if you don’t know what to look for. One trick is to not be fooled by the little words “per serving” next to the calorie count. It may seem like it’s only 150 calories, and easy to squeeze into your daily count, but this is when you need to look closer. Extra calories are consumed when we think we fail to consider how many servings are in a package, and can lead to going over your daily calories, sugars, and fat recommendations. When you buy a product, search the label to know exactly how many servings it contains, and remember to calculate what the calories would be if you plan on consuming more than one.
Tip #2: Look for added sugar.
Giving into our sweet tooth every once in awhile is normal, but you might be doing it more than you think with foods you eat every single day. Knowing what kind of sugar and where it comes from is a good thing to know when grocery shopping for your family. Sugar sneaks its way into everyday foods such as yogurt, bread, fruit and even pasta sauce. Natural sugars appear in fruits and vegetables. The real sugar you need to be on the lookout for is added sugar, and how much. The FDA suggests no more than 10% of your daily calories be from added sugars, which means just 50 grams based on a 2,000 calorie diet.
Tip #3: Fresh foods are the safest and easiest route to take.
Finding fresh foods is key to having a healthy household. Fresher foods will have fewer preservatives, added sugars, and other harmful substances. When you are searching out ingredients for your family, start with the produce aisle. Find ways to incorporate fresh fruits and vegetables into every meal. This will help eliminate concern about too much processed food.
Tip #4: Variety is keeps things exciting.
Providing your family with a healthy lifestyle is a difficult thing to balance. When families decide to make lifestyle changes in their home and to start eating healthier, there is often a feeling of loss as you’re tossing out cereal boxes, cookies, chips, and other junk foods you’ve grown fond of. Instead of eliminating all the “bad” foods at once (and putting your kids on edge), slowly replace items with healthier options as you run out. Replace white bread with wheat, pasta with veggie spirals, and sugar laden sauces with more natural remedies. By having a variety of foods in the menu, you’ll keep your tastebuds entertained instead of always eating a salad and wishing it were a pizza.