We always hear how important it is to know what you are consuming and to check the label before making a purchase, but how many of us actually know what we are looking at? Here are some helpful tips to consider when deciding what to buy at the grocery store.
If you are over 30, I strongly recommend seeing your physician and getting checked out. You may not have any concerning health issues currently, but oftentimes the warning signs are starting to show what lies down the road, and you can head it off at the pass. Are your cholesterol levels high, high blood pressure, over or under-weight? Your physician can talk to you about this and tell you what you need to cut out of your diet or significantly decrease. Being healthy is a responsibility that you either take seriously or ignore, but it can be difficult if you don’t know what you are up against.
The first line to look at on the nutrition label is the portion or serving size. You must take into account the portion you will be eating versus the nutritional info delivered. Salty snacks are a great example, such as potato chips. The sodium may be surprisingly lower than you expected, until you notice that the serving size is only about 8 chips. Keep this in mind and be realistic, if you know you will eat three times the serving size, and then accept that you will take on three times the nutritional value displayed.
When reading the ingredient section, look to see what is the first ingredient listed. For example, it’s not realistic to cook with homemade stock on a consistent basis unless you have a ton of time on your hands, so most people have gone to the measure of using a base or bouillon cubes, or canned or packaged broth. A significant warning sign is the first ingredient; if you are looking at a chicken base, and the first ingredient is sodium or preservative or anything other than chicken, you should avoid it. The first ingredient listed is the primary ingredient in the product.
Some other information to look for is fat content, calories and total carbs. It is important that you know the difference between good carbs and bad carbs. A common misconception in today’s diet fad craze is that you can eliminate carbs from your diet. Despite popular belief, the human body requires carbs. Yes, you can lose weight by removing your carb intake and the body can adjust and use fat and protein to create energy in place of carbs, but the long term effects on your organs can be extreme. My recommendation is to do research before dedicating yourself to a specific diet. The best thing I can recommend is to take nutrition class at a local community college or online. Not only do you get an abundance of information about food, but you will learn about how your body is affected by each category of food.
This can all seem daunting and produce the belief that you will have to eliminate some of your favorite foods. You don’t have to eliminate them necessarily, but you may have to be better about portion control and frequency of diving into that favorite bag of chips. The key here is moderation. Elimination may be needed in some situations, but you have to ask yourself if that is such a bad thing. Alternatives can be found, and adding on 10 years to your life should be worth the loss of a few slices of cheese along the way. Are you worth it? Your family and friends think you are!