Updated: Feb 8
Okay folks! Let’s kick this off with a quick guessing game.
Read this nutrition label and take a guess what we're eating: Soy Protein Nuggets (Soy Protein Isolate, Tapioca Starch, Salt), Peanut Butter Fudge (Corn Syrup, Invert Sugar, Peanut Butter [Peanuts, Sugar, Salt], Sugar, Palm Kernel Oil, Peanut Flour, Milk Protein Isolate, Soy Lecithin, Salt, Vanilla Extract, Xanthan Gum, Carob Seed Gum, Beta- Carotene), Chocolate Flavored Coating (Sugar, Fractionated Palm Kernel Oil, Cocoa Powder, Whey Powder, Nonfat Milk Powder, Soy Lecithin, Natural Vanilla Flavor), Corn Syrup, Acacia Gum, Fructose Syrup, Peanut Butter, Peanut Flour, Peanuts. Less than 2% of the Following: Glycerine, Soy Protein Isolate, Natural Flavor, Calcium Phosphate, Salt, and Vitamin & Mineral Blend (Calcium Phosphate, Ascorbic Acid [Vit. C], Magnesium Oxide, dl-Alpha-Tocopheryl Acetate [Vit. E], Niacinamide [Vit. B3], Zinc Oxide, Calcium Pantothenate [Vit. B5], Ferrous Fumarate [Iron], Pyridoxine Hydrochloride [Vit. B6], Vitamin A Palmitate, Riboflavin [Vit. B2], Thiamine Mononitrate [Vit. B1], Folic Acid [Vit. B9], Chromium Chloride, Biotin [Vit. B7], Sodium Selenite, Sodium Molybdate, Cyanocobalamin [Vit. B12]).
Did you guess it was a candy bar?
Nope. It’s a Chocolate Peanut Butter Zone Perfect Nutrition Bar.
You’ll likely find it in the “Nutrition Aisle” at your grocery store. And chances are you’ve eaten something similar when you were tight for time and wanted to grab something “quick and healthy.”
Perhaps you even ate one as a meal replacement at breakfast or lunchtime. But now as you look at the label and note the sugar, chemicals, and weird fats listed, you’re probably asking yourself, “Is this really even food?” It reads more like some sort of food construction, with a strange medley of highly processed ingredients.
Do you see how many times the word “sugar” appears in this label? Sugar in all of its many sneaky forms creates a big barrier to a healthy diet. And even worse, this added chemically produced sugar may be delicious, but it's also highly addictive and toxic.
I’m not even going to sugarcoat this for you. (pardon the pun) Sugar is more than just bad for your teeth; it causes insulin resistance that can lead to diabetes, is one of the primary causes for obesity, can cause liver disease, heart disease, cancer, has been linked to Alzheimer's and more.
Knowing all of this, how nutritious do you think that Nutrition Bar actually is? It's basically the equivalent of a candy bar. Which is all good and fine when you're enjoying your favorite treat, not so much when you think you're making a choice that supports your eat better goals.
That’s the problem with buzz words like “nutritious” or “healthy” or “organic.” They lure you into trusting the packaging and stop us from looking beyond the headline. If you want to improve your daily diet, boost your health and promote lasting weight loss, you’re going to need to learn how to read and understand those nutrition labels.
And here's some really good news ... it's not as hard as you think.
Here's the reality: simple ingredient foods are one of the easiest ways to start eating better. The longer the list of ingredients, the further it tends to be from real nutrient dense food. Think about it, chicken breast is just chicken. And a bag of romaine lettuce is just lettuce. That avocado, just an avocado. Add them all together and you have a quick and easy dinner salad. No fancy marketing label or special set of impossible to pronounce ingredients.
Foods that have only one ingredient are almost always the most pure form of nutrition. Eating better doesn’t have to be overly complicated. Start by looking for foods that come from nature - flew, grew, swam or ran - and you're already making great progress!
And no, I'm not saying you need to avoid everything that comes in a box or bag. Simply begin to notice WHAT you're eating. Because the truth is there are plenty of whole grain crackers, hummus dips, Greek yogurts, popcorns, etc. on the market with only a handful of ingredient that you'll recognize and can easily pronounce... and there are plenty of others boasting 20 or more hard to pronounce ingredients. Start steering toward the foods that keep their ingredients simple and you're more likely to be eating nutrient dense foods with less unnecessary fluff.
The recipe for eating better is simple, because eating simple foods is a simple way to naturally begin eating better.
Are you tired of starting over every Monday, hopping from diet to diet, wondering if you'll ever get it "right" so that you can lose the weight and become the best version of you? I’ve got you friend! Come join me inside my FREE women’s-only Facebook community: Eat Better with Coach Mindy. It's for busy women who are ready to lose weight, gain energy, get healthy and fit -- without restrictive diets or punishing food rules.