Read the Labels

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The time you spend in the grocery store just doubled.  Have no fear!  It’s temporary.  Once you know what you are looking for that time will decrease.  I spend the bulk of grocery money on items that do not have labels, i.e. fruits and vegetables, but for those products that I use that do contain labels I now spend 5 seconds turning the products around, reading the label and deciding if it’s OK to buy.  What am I looking for?  I’m not looking at calories or fat.  First and foremost I look at the ingredients.  Second I look at the sugar content (we’ll get to that in the future).  If those two criteria check out, then the product gets put in my cart.  If not, back on the shelf it goes.  I will say that if I need a product and it doesn’t check out I do get infuriated in the store.  I’m sure people have looked at me while I’ve gone on a mini-rant in the middle of the aisle.

What ingredients do I look for?  These were the first ingredients I looked for when I started reading labels.  They are pretty easy to find and will jump out at you.  Again, this is just the beginning.

High Fructose Corn Syrup – you cannot believe where is lurks.  It’s EVERYWHERE!  It’s maddening.  Seriously, just go to the store and count the number of products you pick up that contain HFCS.

Artificial colors – Blue #, Red #, Yellow #, etc.  Pretty easy to know where they are.  If it’s a bright pink, green, blue color, they colors are probably there.  BUT did you know that marshmallows also have these colors in them?  And pickles!  WTF!?

Artificial flavors – conveniently lumped into just one category.  Have no idea what ingredients make them up (same thing goes for natural flavors, but that’s another story).  The positive note is that most products will tell you right on the front of the package that it is artificially flavored.  Check those flavored potato chips.

Artificial preservatives – Sodium benzoate and anything else that is added to “maintain freshness.”

Next time you’re shopping, take note and find an alternative.  The alternatives are there, it just takes a few extra minutes to find them.  Might take a few extra cents to purchase them too, but it’s worth it.  I’d rather spend the extra on staying healthy than giving the money to the doctors so that they can buy healthier foods for their families 🙂