Recognizing healthy food and reading food labels

Manufacturers know how to catch clients ‘attention by adding attractive slogans on their products « fat free » or « sugar free ». However, don’t rely on it! There are often traps and subtexts behind these beautiful formulations. The best thing to do is to avoid industrial products and to cook everything by yourself of course and you will have a healthy product! However, it takes a lot of time! Even if there are industrials products, some of them worth to look, but you have to know how to differentiate them from all others! That’s
why I’m giving you some advice to be able to read food labels and so to recognize healthy food from unhealthy food!


⇒Advice number 1:  The length of the ingredients label.

My advice is to take a look at the length of the ingredients label. It takes only a couple of seconds, and give you an overview of the product immediately. If this one is too long, you can rest it in the aisle.

⇒Advice number 2: To avoid food additives.

Food colours, taste enhancers, antioxidants, emulsifiers, stabilizers, thickeners… We can be lost with all these additives! So, here is a summary of food additives you can find on food labels:

E100 to E180: colours
E200 to E290: conservatives
E300 to E322: antioxidants
E400 to E495: emulsifiers, stabilizers, thickeners, gellants
E420, E421 and E950 to E967: sweeteners

That’s better to avoid them!


⇒Advice number 3: To analyse the nutrition facts table.

It is essential to understand this table, because it is telling about the nutritional value of the product. I would say that the first line to take a look at is the one about the sugar quantity. You can read it under the carbohydrate ‘line: it is the « sugars »’line. We watch it when we buy a sugared product, but don’t forget to take a look at this line for the salted products. Indeed, manufacturers like to add sugar everywhere, even where it is not supposed to be. For example: sauces, tomato sauces… and a lot of other products. Moreover, please don’t neglect the others lines in the table (sodium…)

⇒Advice number 4: Do not rely on the slogans on packaging.

Indeed, these slogans are used to catch clients but there are often misleading, it’s best to not rely on appearances. For example, you are attracted by « sugar free » apple sauces. It doesn’t mean that there is no added sugar. It just means that the added sugar quantity is less important than the average of others apple sauces, but there is still added sugar (whereas there is already the sugar from the fruit, which is good enough). In the example with the apple sauces, it is easier to find some without any added sugar than before, these are the compotes you have to choose.

Then, the principle every time remains the same. For example, you are attracted by some vegetable’s crisps « fat free ». On the one hand, it also means there are less fat in regards to the average of this kind of products. On the other hand, the slogan doesn’t mean it is a healthy product. Indeed, it can have added sugar, some additives and sometimes dubious ingredients… which are nevertheless present.

⇒Advice number 5: Dubious ingredients

Here I call « dubious ingredients », those you don’t really know, like processed food or just unappetizing or unhealthy ingredients. For example, do you know what invert sugar syrup is? or what dextrose is? Examples of unappetizing and unhealthy foods: beef fat; pork fat. You have to always wonder yourself: What is that ingredient?

Then, you often see « glucose syrup » or « glucose-fructose syrup », a sweetener product really appreciated by manufacturers because it is cheaper than sugar, it has a higher sweetening
power and finally it is easier to integrate into products: it mixes well, allows creams to hold well… Glucose syrup doesn’t have nutritional quality. Unlike the traditional white sugar, it spreads faster in the blood and causes a surge of insulin.

⇒Advice number 6: Organic products: good or bad idea?

First of all, I can only advice you to choose organic foods. On the one hand, they are more respectful of the environment because there are less pesticides, which are harmful for biodiversity (they pollute soils, water table, seas, kill pollinators…). On the other hand, they limit the use of dubious ingredients in foods and favour simpler foods, “rawer” ingredients (ex: cane sugar replaces glucose syrup or white sugar…). However, you even have to take a look at the nutrition facts table. Indeed, Indeed, a product certified as being from organic agriculture does not prevent an excess of added sugar….

I’m aware it can be worrying to worry about all these conditions.  But you will see that you’’ be quickly used to them and that you will know how to distinguish what are the healthy products. With practice, you will directly know to what shelves and products you have to go in shops.

I hope I could help you to now be able to read and understand food labels on industrial products. The best thing to do is to cook all your own meal with “rawer” ingredients, not processed. It remains the best option to have a healthy eating of course. That’s why I suggest you to consult my healthy, easy and quickly recipes to prepare!

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