Buying foods in containers or packages can be confusing to many. Reading labels is overwhelming trying to sort out what really is good for us. The buzz words “healthy” and “natural” adds to the confusion, because of what they imply. For example sugar is a natural food; however the addition of sugar to packaged foods for the purpose of increased sales (for the sweetness) is not healthy. Learning to discern our food purchases is essential to eating well. What is even more critical is food given to children under the pretense of healthy and natural which is also deceiving. It is a red flag when a package contains those two words because the manufacturer wants us to make a purchase. Food that comes directly from the ground intact is the real deal – healthy and natural.
A package that has a paragraph of ingredients is a “put it back on the shelf” message.
Here are a few examples:
- Granola bars: very often the first ingredient is sugar.
- Energy bars: sugars or artificial sweeteners can dominate.
- Fruit flavored yogurts: high in sugars, which can be as much as 6 tsp per 8 oz container!
- Fruit smoothies (commercial): comprised of sugary juice and yogurts and may contain as much as 600 calories
In these categories there are better options such as adding your own fresh fruits to yogurt and smoothies, which relies on fruits for natural sweetness, not added sugar like corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup or cane sugar. The important message is to eat mostly (80%) unprocessed foods. Buy fruits and vegetables fresh and eat with minimal cooking/processing. It does not take much time to chop a salad or steam veggies – really. Simply the largest percentage of foods we eat needs to be fruit and vegetables – that’s it. To maintain hormone balance, wellness and longevity, this is the plan to follow now. In every case that I see as a naturopathic physician, nutrition is the gateway to health & wellness.
The truth really does lie in eating 6-8 servings a day of fruits and vegetables. So many food products in the market place may claim to be health foods which are not really good for us. Healthier foods may cost a little more now, but continuing to eat the American SAD diet will cost us much much more later on. Think about it…