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Well Pared Ingredient Labels

Ingredient Labels: What You Need to Know Now

For starters, you should be applauded for even taking interest in the topic of understanding ingredient labels. So many people today are so overly concerned with calories, carbs, or other items on the nutrition labels of food, that they forget to check the basics: the ingredients!

Yes, you may want to track those other items as well, but actually reading the ingredients and knowing exactly what you are putting into your body is where the real power lies.

What on Earth Are You Eating? A Quick Guide to Understanding Ingredient Labels

The Basics

Before you can really become a food label expert, you’ll need to define what you do and don’t want for your body. Our best suggestions for optimal health are no gluten, no dairy, minimal sugars and nothing artificial. Once you’ve honed in on those concepts, you can begin the process of dissecting the nutrition facts, and more importantly, the ingredients of your foods.

Start by reminding yourself that eating as close to a natural diet as possible is best. This means quality meats, organic vegetables, fresh fruits, and nuts. If you stick to these items, you will have to do little to no ingredient label research which makes life (and grocery shopping) a lot simpler! With that being said, we live in a world right now that tends to make this concept easier said than done. We are constantly surrounded by bags, boxes, and cans of processed and artificial foods. Because of this, we must be able to read nutrition facts and ingredient labels and recognize the red flags.

Ingredient Label Red Flags

Ingredients you can’t pronounce

This is an obvious one. If you can’t pronounce the ingredient, you likely don’t know what it is, which means it probably isn’t good for you. Steer clear of these items as they usually are not real foods and/or have little to no nutritional value.

Ingredients you’ve never heard of.

This goes hand in hand with the above red flag. If you’ve never heard of the ingredient, in all likelihood, it is bad for your body. Calmly place this item back where it came from and step away. Or, at the very least, bust out that smartphone and do a quick google search to find out what the ingredient actually is and take it from there.

The terms ‘artificial flavorings’ or even ‘natural flavorings’.

These terms, especially ‘artificial flavorings’, should make you raise an eyebrow. These items are flavor enhancers and food manufacturers are not required to expose what exactly those enhancers are. This means that you really have no idea what you are getting. These ‘flavorings’ could mean anything from salt and pepper to diacetyl, which is often used as a butter flavor but is thought to trigger Alzheimer’s. Clearly, it is best to not even risk eating foods that are enhanced with natural or artificial flavors.

More than 5 ingredients listed.

If there are more than say, 5-8 ingredients listed, you should probably put the item back on the shelf. More ingredients usually mean more room for additives and preservatives and less room for real food.

Sugars and all the forms and variations.

Unfortunately, sugars are not so sweet for your health. So make sure you are able to recognize all the names they are disguised as sugar, cane sugar, dextrose, fructose, glucose, sucrose, molasses, agave, fruit juice, to name just a few.

The big takeaway here should be obvious- if you don’t understand or recognize what an item is that is listed in the ingredients of a food, don’t buy it and don’t eat it. Or at the very least, don’t do so until you’ve researched and fully understand what it is you would be eating.

Knowledge is key here, and once you fully dive into healthy eating, reading and understanding a nutrition and ingredient label will become second nature.

So go ahead, be one of those people who stands in the aisle reading labels and attempting to fully understand what they are purchasing – your body (and mind) will thank you later.

At Well Pared, we care a lot about what goes into what we offer you. You can rest assured – we know the ingredients, and can give it to you with full confidence that you are feeding your body well!