Learn Read the Food Labels!

Learning to read food labels is one of the most important things you can do to improve the healthiness of your diet. You cannot make good shopping choices if you don’t read the labels on what you are buying and understand what they say. Not doing this, is a type of shopping illiteracy and will leave you disempowered and in the dark about what you are feeding your family.

Information is power and you need to take the power back from food manufacturers and advertisers, so that you make the decisions about what to feed yourself, or your children. Reading the labels gets easier once you know what to look for.

But, be warned, it’s never completely straightforward, because food companies want to keep the consumer in the dark about all the stuff they throw into our food to increase their profit margins. They often try to disguise ingredients, or call them by their scientific name and they rarely specify what the origin of the chemical is, which is also of concern to the person who is eating it.

In the meantime, do what you can to inform and empower yourself about what is in that jar you are going to feed yourself, or your children. To help you, here are the basics of label literacy:-

Food Label Tip # 1. The most important thing to know about labelling is that the ingredients are listed in order of decreasing volume. Whatever the product contains most of, will appear first on the list of ingredients, and so on in decreasing order. If you see fat, sugar, or salt, first on the list of ingredients, you can assume the food in question is not going to be a healthy one.

Food Label Tip # 2. If the label indicates vegetable oil, look to see whether it is hydrogenated and avoid if it is. Hydrogenation is the process that turns vegetable oils into the same texture as animal fats. Your body is tricked and cannot process them properly and they are very bad for the cardio-vascular system. Hydrogenated fats are also referred to as ‘trans-fatty acids’ or ‘trans-fats’. Trans-fats have now been banned in all restaurants in New York city because they are so dangerous.

While we are waiting for them to be banned in all foodstuffs, we can simply ban them for ourselves and so take responsibility for our own health. I note that the British Marks and Spencer supermarkets have banned trans-fats in all products they sell and other supermarket chains should follow suit.

Food Label Tip # 3. Watch out for hidden animal ingredients. Even if you are not a vegetarian, it is good to be cautious about the by-products of the global meat industry which find their way into processed food. You have no way of knowing what standard of food-safety was applied to this ingredient if you don’t even know from where in the world it originated.

You might think you are buying a simple, vegetable-based tomato sauce. But it could contain meat products from the other side of the world, disguised as bouillion (stock). In this case, only settle for vegetable bouillion. Watch out also for gelatine, another meat product which crops up everywhere, even in pre-whipped cream. ‘Shortening’ or ‘fat’ is usually another indication of meat-sourced fats. Glycerines and stearates are also ingredients which can have undeclared animal sources. Many products now carry the vegetarian symbol (a large V). Even if you are not a vegetarian, these are the ones to buy.

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Remember! Healthy eating is enjoyable!

Blessings on your table!

The Good Food Angel.


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