The hidden ingredient

by Khushboo on March 16, 2011

If you haven’t caught on by now, I like eating and cooking with real, wholesome ingredients. I do try and avoid processed foods as much as possible, with the exception of pasta, bread, and cereal. Convenient they may be, but processed foods are also filled with additives and stripped of nutrients.

I’m the first to admit that I eat processed foods like Skippy Natural and Lindt on a daily basis but I certainly don’t base my meals around them. As for ready meals, those are no go: pouring a bowl of cereal or making sandwich requires as little effort as keying in the buttons of a microwave.   Maybe it’s psychological but they also don’t leave me feeling as satisfied as does real food.

Although I’m not a housewife (yet?), I love grocery shopping :)! I get such a kick out of examining different products and comparing nutritional labels. More so than calories, the ingredient list is a biggie for me. Eating a product without reading the ingredient list is like signing a business contract without reading it: DUMB!  While some ingredients still remain a question mark to me, here are a few tips that I follow to make healthy choices: 

  • Ingredient placement: food labels list the product’s ingredients in order by weight so that the ingredient in the greatest amount is listed first.  When salt or sugar is within the first 3 ingredients, you probably want to minimize your consumption of it. 
  • The shorter the ingredient list, the better.  More ingredients=more processing!
  • If the ingredient list contains long, chemical-sounding words that you can’t pronounce, avoid that item.  Stick with ingredients you recognize.
  • Don’t be fooled by fancy-sounding ingredients like ‘goji berries’ or ‘spiruilina’ which are placed at the list’s tail-end.  Their content will be too miniscule to provide any benefits.
  • Don’t be fooled by the word ‘wheat’ when it comes to flour.  All flours derived from wheat can be called wheat flour, even if it is processed, bleached and stripped of its nutrition.  Only ‘wholegrain wheat flour’ is a healthful form of wheat flour. 
  • Watch out for deceptively small serving sizes.  I remember I was in Dubai and saw a bar of white chocolate Kit Kat Chunky.  After excitingly telling my sister (or was it my mom) that it was only 200 cals for the whole thing, it turns out that single bar contained 2 servings.  What.A.Joke.!
  • If you are watching you’re sugar levels, look out for common code words which are used to disguise the sugar content.  Words like ‘syrup’, sweeteners and anything ending in ‘ose’ can be assumed to be ‘sugar’
  • Don’t be fooled into thinking that brown products are healthier than white products.  Brown sugar is just white sugar with brown coloring and flavoring added and unless it’s made with whole grain, there is no guarantee that brown bread is healthier than white bread.
  • Put it down if there is even a fraction of Trans fat in the product.  You’re better off eating plastic: it’s cheaper and like trans fat, it’s synthetic.  **Note: hydrogenated oil/margarine in ingredient lists indicate the presence of trans fat**.

It pays to look at labels.  Although it might seem like a chore initially, those few extra minutes will help you do a better job of selecting foods that improve your overall health and help manage your weight :D.

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

movesnmunchies March 16, 2011 at 9:09 pm

great post!!! lots of good things to look out for!

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