Walk down the aisle of your local grocery store and it doesn’t take long before your eyes are locked on a flashy label stating, “ONLY 100 Calories” or “NO SUGAR ADDED” or “LIGHT!” That isn’t all, you also get a picture of a healthy-looking model or cartoon smiling because of that ‘wonderful’ product their face is on. It is so easy to be persuaded, and manufacturers are experts at it. They know the right words to say to press the button in your brain that will persuade you to put those products in your cart! Scary, isn’t it?
This power of persuasion has influence on what things we look at when investigating a label! It is extremely common to reduce our focus to just parts of the “picture” – such as calories, sugar, carbs, and protein, without checking out what it is that is making up those calories. We have programs that focus solely on calories without any regard to where they may be coming from. The problem isn’t that we are eating TOO MANY calories, or that we are not eating enough, but that the QUALITY of the calories we are eating is poor! There are so many more things that determine the quality of food, beyond calories, fat, and sugar. Let’s figure out what determines quality!
Whole foods that are unprocessed are filled with vital vitamins and minerals that get lost through processing! At Burn Boot Camp, we promote eating whole foods and minimally processed goods. These micronutrients have important roles in the body like hormone secretion, immune function, maintaining bodily functions… and the list goes on!
Carbs get a bad rap these days. The reality is carbs are a broad group that range from short-chained simple sugars to complicated long-chained polysaccharides, such as fiber. Carbs are your bodies primary source of energy. On the label, you will see that under the ‘total carbohydrate’ number is two sub-categories: sugar and fiber. You want to select foods that are HIGHER in FIBER and minimize sugar intake. Fiber plays an important role in regulating digestion, blood glucose levels, and lowering cholesterol!
If it says no sugar, no fat, and just 15 calories…it must be good for you right? Not so fast, look closer. Are there artificial sweeteners and ingredients listed in the label? The most common artificial sweeteners include:
- Acesulfame Potassium
- High Fructose Corn Syrup
And then there are artificial ingredients:
- Monosodium Glutamate
- Sodium Nitrite/Nitrate
- Sulfur Dioxide
- Potassium Bromate
- Artificial Colors and Dyes
These unnecessary food additives should be avoided. Therefore, it is important to read the ingredient list to truly determine if a food is as “healthy” as it appears! Just as you don’t judge a book by its cover, don’t trust a product by it’s packaging!
Fat isn’t bad! YES, I said it! Just like a carbohydrate, the type of fat you eat goes a long way! Unsaturated fats and fatty acids (omega-3 and 6) are health promoting! You should steer away from foods high in saturated and trans-saturated fat. These types of fats are associated with higher chances of heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.
This can all be very overwhelming! That is okay! It takes practice to identify these factors and look at them together as a whole! Take it one step at a time, first looking for artificial sweeteners, then add in unnecessary food additives a month later. Lastly, don’t do it alone! Ask your family or friends to go with you. This can serve as a great learning experience for the kids! Not only are you going to get stronger but you are going develop healthier habits for your family!
Don’t let it scare you… YOU CAN DO IT! Now that you have the knowledge, get to shopping in a healthy way! Learn more about Burn Nutrition by signing up for our news letter below!
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