Do you remember when you were trying to learn how to read? Those words on the page seemed pretty daunting. They just looked like a bunch of lines, but you knew they meant something! Over time you practiced, and you had a lot of help from your teacher and your parents. Eventually things started making sense!
Now reading is second nature and you don’t even think about it when you’re doing it. You read every day. Oh sure, there may be a word here and there you don’t know, but you can usually figure it out just fine.
It’s really no different with reading food labels. It may seem daunting at first, but with practice you’ll be able to quickly glance at a label and know exactly what you need to know. Where do you start, though? Who will teach you?
The ABCs of Reading Food Labels
There are some misconceptions out there regarding food labels and clean eating. Some subscribe to the idea that as long as the list of ingredients isn’t too long, the food must be okay. There’s a problem with that, though. A food may have five ingredients, but if two of them are artificial then it’s not a clean food.
Clean eating means the ingredients in your food are pure and natural. When you’re looking at the list of ingredients, ask yourself if it would be possible for you to grow or harvest that food. Can you buy that ingredient separately in the store?
For instance, a sauce may contain milk, cream, eggs, salt, and spices. These are all ingredients that you could gather or grow yourself. This would be a clean food. However, if we add monsodium glutamate (MSG) we cannot call it a clean food. You could not venture out to the garden or the barn one morning to gather MSG.
Another good rule of thumb is to always shop the perimeter of the grocery store. In general, this is where you will find produce, meats, eggs, and dairy. These are all basic ingredients for clean eating. The exception to this is the grains that you will find in the interior part of the store. Look for grains that are not processed or treated. Quinoa, barley, brown rice, and whole-grain flours are all great clean-eating foods.
Another misconception about clean eating is that looking at the Nutrition Facts label will ensure a healthy food. Not so. Many cereals are fortified with vitamins and minerals, but they are very processed and often contain loads of unnatural ingredients. Stick to reading the ingredient list and always make sure you are eating whole foods that are naturally high in vitamins and minerals.
How Long Will it Take to Learn?
You might feel a bit frustrated at first. The last thing you feel like doing is spending the whole morning in the grocery store reading labels. However, just as you learned to read when you were a child, you will learn how to read those confusing labels! They might seem like a bunch of lines on the paper at first, but you will quickly learn how to decipher them like a pro.
Plus, we’ve made it even easier for you! We’ve compiled a handy guide to clean eating. There’s no need to list every ingredient out there that’s bad for you (that would be an incredibly long list). Instead, we’ll help you to quickly see what’s good for you. We’ve even put together a clean eating grocery list! We know you’ll find it useful in your journey to better health.
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