I dream of the days when we could once again go to our local farmer to get produce and meats, knowing exactly how they were grown and raised. No labels to decode, no marketing gimmicks, no hidden sugars or processed/refined food imposters.
Perhaps in the summer months, you can find a local farmers market to get some delicious in-season organic produce…but other than that…many people have bleak choices and less than ideal options when it comes to high-quality foods.
Part of foundational health is understanding how to shop for nutrient-dense foods. It’s more than choosing foods labeled “organic” or “natural”. One must know how to avoid processed food imposters by understanding what’s real vs. a marketing ploy to entice a purchase. This concept of “real food” has become confusing — as marketing gimmicks and label decoding lends itself to another language altogether.
For example, a client may be excited to tell me that they’ve started drinking a popular brand of almond milk instead of cow’s milk, only for me to tell them that this particular brand is filled with questionable ingredients. You see, almond milk should be 3 ingredients at most!
- ORGANIC ALMONDS
- HIMALAYAN SEA SALT (optional)
Popular Brand Almond Milk:
- ALMOND MILK (FILTERED WATER, ALMONDS)
- CANE SUGAR
- CONTAINS LESS THAN 2% OF: VITAMIN & MINERAL BLEND (CALCIUM CARBONATE, VITAMIN E ACETATE, VITAMIN A PALMITATE, VITAMIN D2),
- SEA SALT
- NATURAL FLAVOR,
- SUNFLOWER LECITHIN,
- LOCUST BEAN GUM,
- GELLAN GUM,
- ASCORBIC ACID (TO PROTECT FRESHNESS).
What’s more frustrating…their label dons the following: “Non-GMO, no artificial colors, flavors or funny business”. I could easily go on a rant here, but suffice it to say that everything listed after “almond milk” is considered “funny business”.
Understanding how to read a label and decode what’s real vs. fake is what is going to make a healthy lifestyle possible. To be clear, I don’t think it’s necessary to learn what EVERY single ingredient is, instead, I want you to choose items with ingredients you already know! Going back to the almond milk example, when you see things like “sunflower lecithin” or “locust bean gum”, I want you to instinctively put that down and walk away. If you don’t know what it is, don’t put it in your body.
It is part of my mission to decode this label language and help you jump into a healthy lifestyle with clarity and ease. Thanks to the incredibly generous people over at A Greener World — they’ve allowed friends of ORA Nutrition a FREE food label dictionary download!!!! With more than 100 common food terms and claims found on packaging, it’s truly an indispensable tool for anyone interested in making better food choices.