When I first arrived in America about 16 years ago, I was awestruck by the size of the local supermarket, I think it was a Safeway. Or Albertson’s? Or was it a Smith’s? Being from Germany I was used to shops that measured the size of the cereal aisle in an American supermarket.
Needless to say, I was overwhelmed by the exorbitant number of products that were on display. I spent hours roaming the market trying to figure out what it was that all the boxes and jars contained. And all I wanted is to EAT FOOD. Turned out it wasn’t all that easy.
To find my way through the jungle of the food industry I followed the:
#1 Key to a better diet and more energy.
Read Ingredient labels
About 60% of people completely ignore this little gem of information tucked away in small print on the back of packages. Yet it is your first key to a better diet and more energy. By reading ingredient labels, you can determine very quickly whether a product contains actual food or a bunch of chemicals.
I made reading ingredient labels a habit and I apply it everywhere I travel to. I know you want to be healthy, radiant and alive also.
Eating foods with good, clean ingredients is key to sustaining your energy and health.
Eating “unclean” food with additives, coloring, and preservatives cause your body to work hard. Your body needs the energy to filter out the foreign substances and you are left with a less energy than you started with.
In the process of reading ingredient labels, I discovered three simple principles to reading ingredient labels that make buying healthy products easy:
Simple Principle #1: Don’t buy products that contain ingredients your grandmother (or you for that matter) can’t pronounce.
Standing at Safeway’s cereal isle in 1999 (that’s when I was still buying cereal) reading label after label I was wondering if the English I had learned in school had been completely insufficient. I didn’t know what half of the ingredients were, how to pronounce them or why anyone would put them in food in the first place. Here is an example of a common ingredient label that left my head spinning.
Instead of learning a foreign language just revert to simple principle #1: Don’t buy it if your grandmother can’t pronounce it.
Simple Principle #2: Don’t buy products that have an ingredient list longer than 2 or 3 lines.
The longer the ingredient list, the more likely that the box contains substances that are not really food.
This is an ingredient list of flour tortilla that is far too long.
INGREDIENTS: FLOUR TORTILLA (Enriched Bleached Wheat Flour (Flour, Niacin, Reduced Iron, Thiamin Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Folic Acid), Water, Vegetable Shortening (Interesterified Soybean Oil, Fully Hydrogenated Soybean Oil), Contains 2% or less of the Following: Sugar, Salt, Baking Powder (Sodium Bicarbonate, Cornstarch, Sodium Aluminum Sulfate, Calcium Sulfate, Monocalcium Phosphate), Vital Wheat Gluten, Monoglycerides, Potassium Sorbate, Calcium Propionate and/or Sodium Propionate, (Preservative) Fumaric Acid, Dough Conditioner (Sodium Metabisulfite, Corn Starch, Microcrystalline Cellulose, Dicalcium Phosphate).)
All we need to make flour tortillas are flour, water, and salt.
Simple Principle #3: Get a good idea about how a food is made if you were to make it from scratch.
For example, the typical ingredients for pesto are basil, garlic, pine nuts, oil, salt, and cheese.
Here is the ingredient list of a Classico basil pesto sauce:
Basil, Soybean Oil, Garlic, Romano Cheese (Milk, Cheese Cultures, Salt, Enzymes), Olive Oil, Spice, Salt, Lactic Acid, Torula Yeast, Citric Acid, Natural Flavors (Soy). Contains Soybeans, Milk.
The first few ingredients are in line with what we know about typical ingredients. The one ingredient that sticks out for me most is Natural Flavors. Both natural and artificial flavors are made by flavorists in a laboratory by blending either “natural” chemicals or synthetic chemicals to create flavorings. This product is not worth buying.
Chemicals are toxins and the body uses energy to filter it out of your system => eating toxins drains your energy resources.
Reading Ingredient Labels = Better Diet = More energy
Your Action step:
Choose one cupboard in your kitchen and read the ingredient lists of all the packages of food products you have: Cereal boxes, chips, cans, jars, crackers etc.. Make a pile of acceptable and non-acceptable items. Evaluate your purchasing choices. Then discard any items in the non-acceptable pile.