We all strive for food made from scratch, but there are some days when we need convenience foods.
Like that time your family dropped like flies from the flu and all you had in the fridge were pickles and ketchup. In times like this, any mom or dad would be begging for a convenient meal. Just because we all need a break sometimes, doesn’t mean we should be forced to eat junk.
Wouldn’t it be nice if we could trust all the marketing messages on the front of packaged food products?
The ones that read “made with real fruit,” “baked with real cheese” or “contains 100% whole grains.” Products like these must all be healthy foods, right? Wrong. That statement couldn’t be further from the truth. Products that make such bold claims are typically laden with ingredients that are rubbish and not REAL food at all.
So, if it comes in a package, how do you know it’s REAL food?
Skip the propaganda messaging on the front of packages, turn the packages over and read those nutrition labels. Now, if your experience at the grocery store is anything like mine, I’m sure this is no easy request. Seriously, how can you possibly decipher a nutrition label when you’ve got a two year-old kicking in the cart and screaming repetitively, “Mama, I want somethin, pleeeease!!!!”
Finding packaged foods that truly contain REAL food ingredients can be tricky,
but it’s not impossible.
Let’s tackle how to read a nutrition label with a screaming infant strapped to your chest and/or a feisty six year-old using the cart as a skateboard.
- Skip the calories and fat information, go straight to the ingredients.
- Read the ingredients out loud (under your breath so the store patrons don’t think you’re loopy).
- Keep reading if you know what the ingredient is and why it’s there. STOP if you don’t recognize something or don’t know why it’s there.
If you don’t know what an ingredient is or you don’t know why it’s there then move along.
It’s likely a preservative, an artificial ingredient or something FAKE that you don’t want your family ingesting. For example, here’s two ingredient lists both from well-known products that use messaging stating they contain REAL food. One has simple ingredients that I have in my pantry, the other contains a bunch of junky stuff.
Bar containing only REAL food:
Ingredients: DATES, ALMONDS, UNSWEETENED APPLES, WALNUTS, RAISINS
Bar containing mostly FAKE ingredients:
Ingredients: CRUST: WHOLE GRAIN OATS, ENRICHED FLOUR (WHEAT FLOUR, NIACIN, REDUCED IRON, VITAMIN B1 [THIAMIN MONONITRATE], VITAMIN B2 [RIBOFLAVIN], FOLIC ACID), WHOLE WHEAT FLOUR, SOYBEAN AND/OR CANOLA OIL, SOLUBLE CORN FIBER, SUGAR, DEXTROSE, FRUCTOSE, CALCIUM CARBONATE, WHEY, WHEAT BRAN, SALT, CELLULOSE, POTASSIUM BICARBONATE, NATURAL AND ARTIFICIAL FLAVOR, MONO- AND DIGLYCERIDES, SOY LECITHIN, WHEAT GLUTEN, NIACINAMIDE, VITAMIN A PALMITATE, CARRAGEENAN, ZINC OXIDE, REDUCED IRON, GUAR GUM, VITAMIN B6 (PYRIDOXINE HYDROCHLORIDE), VITAMIN B1 (THIAMIN HYDROCHLORIDE), VITAMIN B2 (RIBOFLAVIN), FILLING: INVERT SUGAR, CORN SYRUP, STRAWBERRY PUREE CONCENTRATE, GLYCERIN, SUGAR, MODIFIED CORN STARCH, SODIUM ALGINATE, CITRIC ACID, DICALCIUM PHOSPHATE, METHYLCELLULOSE, NATURAL AND ARTIFICIAL FLAVOR, CARAMEL COLOR, MALIC ACID, RED 40.
Breaks your heart doesn’t it?
Oh, my. There are so many icky ingredients in bar #2 from artificial flavors to GMO oils. Plus, there’s at least six different forms of sugar!
There you have it folks, fake food disguised as real food in pretty little packages with flashy marketing messages.
A.C.T. (Action Changes Things)
Step into your pantry and be brave enough to ACT.
Grab your family’s favorite packaged foods and read the labels.
What’s in there? Do you recognize the ingredients? Which ones are questionable?
What did you find? Tell me in the comments.
Did any products break your heart with their icky ingredients?
Were you pleasantly surprised by some products? I want to know!
To life, love and REAL food,
P.S. If you’re up for avoiding the center aisles of the grocery store and skipping most packaged foods, then you’ll love my post on How to finish an entire REAL food shopping venture in 18 minutes.