Look beyond the bright colors, fancy packaging and misleading container wording. Food companies are only concerned with selling their product, not your health.

Any packaged food item should be carefully scrutinized to determine if it has any nutritional value whatsoever. To assess a packaged food product that catches your eye, look directly to the ingredients list usually labeled on the back of the packaging. The ingredients are listed by weight on the label, so the first ingredient listed is the ingredient that weighs the most when the food item was made with the last ingredient being the one that weighed the least. When reading the label, here are three simple guidelines to follow:

1. More ingredients = more unhealthy (in most cases). Many ingredients usually mean added preservatives, salt, sugars, etc. to extend shelf life. Many of these processed foods can last for months or years on the store shelf in sharp
contrast to unpackaged fresh foods which only stay edible for a short period of time.

2. If any type of sugar (high fructose corn syrup, fructose, sorbitol, saccharin, glucose) is listed in the first two ingredients, the food should be treated as a dessert.

3. If a non-whole grain is listed in the first two ingredients, (unbleached enriched wheat flour, wheat flour, white rice, white flour, etc.), the food should be treated as a dessert.

These are a simple three to remember without having to understand exactly what the ingredients are. Desserts in limited quantities are fine to eat following a nutritious, high fiber meal, but your entire meal should not consist of desserts. For example, a meal consisting of a hamburger on a non-whole grain bun, white rice, macaroni & cheese, and a cookie would be considered to have consisted entirely of desserts with very little nutrient or fiber content! Be mindful of your diet!


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