What should I look for when reading food labels?

Christina - posted on 12/03/2008 ( 7 moms have responded )

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I have always thought that I offered relatively healthy foods to my son but according to a friend (who is more informed/educated on this) I could do much better. I have done some research but I find that there is way too much for me to retain and some is just confusing. So what should I be looking out for when reading labels? I need to keep it simple, perhaps the 5-8 main things that I should avoid. I have a 5.5 month old and I have a 22 month old. Thanks so much for your help!

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Christina - posted on 01/23/2009

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Thanks everyone! You have all been so helpful. I guess I haven't been doing too bad since I usually do stick to the outside perimeter of the grocery store. Just found out that my 7 month old has a milk/milk product allergy so I guess I'll have to do more label reading as time goes by. Wish me luck there! Take care everyone!

Kelly - posted on 01/22/2009

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I second the shopping the perimeter of the store idea.  Just try and do as close to the foods' natural state as posible, you can't go wrong.

Joanne - posted on 01/18/2009

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When I buy new things I look at the first five ingredients and make sure they are actually "food" not salt, corn syrups, hydrogenated oils and so on.... Also any ingredients indicated with a number next to them is almost guaranteed to be very bad for you, the less numbers - the less artificial chemicals you are ingesting.

Marnae - posted on 01/07/2009

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The 2 best pieces of advice I've heard are these: When walking around the grocery store, pretend your great-great-grandmother is with you, if she wouldn't recognize the food (as food,) maybe you shouldn't be eating it (this is from Michael Pollan's In Defence of Food -great book!)  And the other piece of advice (from my mother-in-law) think about what's around the outside of the grocery store: meat, dairy, produce - natural foods, buy those and try to stay as much as possible out of the middle.  These are two things I try to remind myself while I'm at the store and it really helps me.  

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I'm glad you asked this, Christina. It's not easy to shop in a timely manner when you have to look at all the labels. I am constantly reading labels.



Judith, thanks for that info. I didn't know that about the sugar.



I also try to avoid anything that says "partially hydrogenated." That's the bad fat. But you probably already knew that. I shop at Trader Joe's a lot (don't know if you have one near you) because we don't have a Whole Foods, but I still have to watch labels there too.

Wendy - posted on 01/06/2009

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I would also say to offer your kids real food. That means instead of apple flavored snack bars, give them an apple. 100% real whole grain products would be an awesome addition - you don't know how clogged up your body is until you come off the addictive things in our food supply. I want to second that sugar and corn syrup is in nearly everything, including ketchup, those healthy yogurts, juices, etc.

Judith Kennedy - posted on 12/23/2008

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3 Things to look for on labels... First - Almost everything has High Fructose Corn Syrup in it - Don't buy anything with it in there. Check the lables of everything - even stuff you don't think it would be in (like whole wheat bread). Second - Grams of sugar divided by 4 = how many teaspoons of sugar are in something. And finally - don't buy anything with ingredients that say "enriched, modified, processed, etc. This means it's been - changed and it makes it much harder if not impossible for your body to break down - and in turn causing disease. Honestly - after doctors advice and life events it took us a while and we are still learning but we only shop at Whole Foods. Other groceries do have more organic stuff which I used to think what was no big deal. But with organice you know it doesn't have junk in it. Best of luck.

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