Thursday, January 10, 2013

Food For Thought: Nutrition Facts

As you know, I am all about eating clean. I firmly believe that anyone who is looking to improve their health, lose weight, achieve fitness goals, or even just feel better should make the focus of their food based on the principle of clean eating. One who is eating clean should seek to avoid processed foods, decrease their sugar intake, and eat as many foods in their whole and natural form as possible. Individuals who are striving to eat this way often question where they stand with packaged foods. After all, sometimes broccoli comes in a package? There are definitely some healthy and nutritious foods that come packaged, the trick to knowing which packaged items are better than others lies in knowing how to read the nutriton labels.

A few things to look for:
1) The fewer ingredients the better
2) The ingredients are listed in sequential order of the amounts used (largest amounts first)
3) You should be able to identify the names of the ingredients
4) It is also smart to check the serving size

Let me explain a little further with some pics...
Nutrition Label #1
The ingredients are very simple; Dates, unsweetened coconut, almonds, cashews, and extra virgin coconut oil. You know by looking at this that dates are the first ingredient so they are used in the largest amount, and then on down the line with the rest of the ingredients. All of these ingredients are recognizable, and the serving size is one bar. This is a clean and healthy choice for sure. 
Nutrition Label #2
The ingredients are NOT so simple here. I have no idea what isomalto-oligosaccharides are? I don't think you can pick those up at the local farmers market. AKA - processed. The first listed ingredient is the items that make up the coating of the bar...that scares me a little? Again, words I don't recognize. Lastly, there are actually two servings in this one bar. Most people would assume that if it is one bar, the nutrition information would be for one serving. Not so. This is definitely something that throws people off with vending machine food, soda, ice cream, etc. Portion control gets tricky with scenarios like this. 

So, clearly we would go with bar #1 if we were choosing which ingredients were better. My challenge to you is to be more aware of the food you are putting in your body. Look to see if you are eating an apple...or an isomalto-olgiosaccharide...whatever that is? 

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