I have been reading ingredient labels on foods for a while now. Essentially, I am always staggered how ingredient labels differ between brands for the same product. How is that possible? Usually, the product with the cheapest price point has about 10 ingredients and the expensive one has 3! I am talking about rice crackers - yep next time you are in the supermarket or shopping online spend a little time reading ingredient labels and you too will be shocked.
So why should you be concerned about ingredient labels? Well its always good to know what you put into your body. Additives and preservatives may be behind many food intolerance symptoms which many of us put up with on a day to day basis - like stuffy nose, congestion, rashes, headaches, loss of concentration and focus, digestive issues such as bloating, cramping as well as muscle aches and pains. Food additives and preservatives can be the cause of a lot of health issues that we consider to be "normal" or as part of getting older.
Usually diet is often the last thing that we change when we are not feeling 100%. It's too hard, takes to much effort, I don't have any recipes, I live alone, I'm tired...yes I have heard every excuse in my time as a nutritionist. So you want to be healthy? Then, the first place to start is by cleaning up what you are eating. Begin at home, and toss out or give away any item with an ingredient list that you don't understand. Next prepare to spend some time looking at ingredient lists at the supermarket or online. Check every packaged item and compare brands.
There are thousands of additives and preservatives, natural colours, emulsifiers, mineral salts and more added to foods and far too many to remember. Not all of these cause health issues. But, to be safe the blanket advice that I offer is to avoid labels with numbers and words that you don't have any clue what they are. Always choose the foods with whole ingredients listed.
These additives and preservatives have been isolated as being the cause of most food intolerance symptoms:
Additives to avoid:
All Colours - even if they say natural
Preservatives to avoid:
200-203 sorbates, 210-219 benzoates, 220-28 sulphites, 249-252 nitrates and nitrites, 280-283 propionates
Synthetic antioxidants - 310-312, 319-321
Flavour enhancers - 620-625 MSG, 627, 631, 635, yeast extract
Flavours - avoid strong flavours
A little advice about how to read ingredient labels:
So who can guess which breakfast cereal this one is?
If you guessed Nutri Grain then you are right.
Let's dive into the ingredient lists -
No numbers - got to be good - no not at all. This is a very deceptive practice. But alarm bells ring when I read natural colours - because this couldn't be further than the truth. Sugar is in the top 3 ingredients, closely followed by molasses another form of sugar. This is before we have even dived down further looking at all the minerals and vitamins that are all a cause for concern.
Instead of Nutri Grain try Weetbix - a low sugar breakfast cereal alternative or better still rolled oats are the perfect breakfast choice. Make a porridge, bircher muesli, muesli or add to smoothies and use in baking. Check out these breakfast ideas here.
Always remember never to be complacent when checking labels. Manufacturers do not have to tell you if they change ingredients in foods, and alarmingly they do.
If you would like help learning about good food choices then the best advice is to see a nutritionist who can help you transition to a healthy diet that will give you a lifetime of health. Begin to feel the difference! Make an appointment here