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  • Reading Labels 101
  • Author avatar
    Kristen Bocanegra
  • Healing & Supporting WellnessThe Basics: Food & Nutrition
Reading Labels 101

You've heard it before - "you are what you eat." While you're pregnant or nursing this is true for your baby as well. The food you ingest provides the nutrients your baby needs for healthy growth. So are you really aware of what you're consuming?

Additives, preservatives, hidden sugars and unhealthy fats are in many of the processed foods we eat. That said, many new companies are working to provide healthier choices. All you have to do is read the ingredients on the back of the nutrition label.

Reading Labels 101Nothing can tell you more about what’s in your food than the raw ingredients used to make it. Sure, there are other things to consider when buying good-for-you food but the ingredients list is often the best place to start.

Here are three simple guidelines to consider when purchasing prepared foods:

  1. Follow the order:
    By law, ingredients have to be listed in order of their weight. While many products may promote “made with whole grains,” that may be only a tiny portion of what is in your food. If you see sugars, salts or unhealthy fats listed in the upper ¼ of the ingredients list, think twice.
  2. Can't read it? Don't buy it:
    You're likely to have at least five food items in your house right now that contain ingredients you have never heard of before and have no idea how to pronounce. A simple rule of thumb is if you can't read it, don't buy it. Many of these items are additives or preservatives and should be avoided, especially by pregnant or nursing women. Some other "unknown" ingredients are likely the scientific or synthetic name for basic ingredients like salt (disodium phosphate, monosodium glutamate, or sodium citrate). Simply put, buy foods that are made from whole ingredients like those found in your kitchen or at a farmer's market.
  3. Less is more:
    It may not always be the case, but often the fewer ingredients used to make an item the better. Ask yourself, what could possibly be in my pasta that takes up seven lines of text? Just a few ingredients can produce incredibly delicious and healhty foods, so look for companies and products that keep it simple.
Remember, in today’s supermarkets, thousands of companies are working to get your attention and acquire your hard earned dollar. You will see buzz words like “Cholesterol Free,” “No Trans Fat” (lord, I hope not), “Low Sodium” and my favorite, “Made with Whole Grains,” as if it really matters that Doritos are made with whole wheat! The cover of a food package will never tell you the whole story.

Be an informed consumer and take a minute to turn that box or package over and read the label. There are many fabulous new companies making products that use healthy whole foods. Take the time to know which ones they are and remember, the ingredients' list never lies.


  • Author avatar
    Kristen Bocanegra
  • Healing & Supporting WellnessThe Basics: Food & Nutrition

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