Reading a food label can be pretty intimidating. All those different types of nutrients and percentages and calories. What does it all mean?! Let me help you.
The first thing I want to say about reading food labels is don’t let it overwhelm you. I’m talking from experience when I say that it’s easy to get into perfectionist mode. To be perfectly honest, it doesn’t matter all that much. We aren’t about to compete in a figure competition, we’re just trying to fuel our bodies and feel good.
The last thing I ever want for any of you is to look at a food label after you’ve eaten and feel like you’ve failed. A few extra calories, a gram of fat “too much”, or a little added sugar are not going to kill you.
Before you get to my tips, I have a fun announcement! Next week, starting May 1st, Kat from Crunchy Kat and I are doing a week of lunch and snack meal prep over on Instagram! We’ll be sharing our go-to midday meals and snacks for a busy week. To follow along, use the hashtag #mealsnmunchies ! AND! Look for a guest post from Kat next week sharing her favorite lunch replacements!
PIN IT FOR LATER!
Here are my tips for those days when you want to glance at a food label and know that you’re eating something that will make you feel good and energized.
- Look for bars with a good sugar to protein ratio! What do I mean by this? There are some bars out there with a ton of added sugar, I’m talking upwards of 30 g of sugar per bar. These same bars have less than 10 g of protein. While this is okay sometimes, it’s probably not your best choice for an every day bar. Instead look for something with higher protein and lower sugar. One of my favorite brands is RX Bar !
- Look for crackers with whole grains as the main ingredients! I love Mary’s Gone Crackers because the only ingredients are whole grains, seasoning, and water. What you don’t want is a cracker made with some whole grains, but mostly fillers. So watch out for a food label that says “MADE WITH WHOLE GRAINS!” but it’s actually the last ingredient on the list.
- Watch out for protein powders that are high in carbs! Don’t get me wrong, I love carbs! But I prefer for them to be in the form of sprouted bread, sweet potatoes, or oats. Not weird fillers in my protein powder. A few protein powder brands I really like are Orgain, SFH, and Whole Foods Plant-Based Fit Protein.
- Watch out for high sodium content! A lot of times, processed foods, like grab and go snacks, have high amounts of sodium. Again, nothing wrong with the occasional high sodium food, but probably not the best for every day. Unless you want your rings to be permanently stuck on your fingers. My tip? Look for a food label with 20% or less of your daily sodium intake per serving. Lower is better here. I recently found this Country Archer Hickory Smoked Turkey Jerky at Marshalls and I’m obsessed ! (( PS Marshalls has some GREAT snacks! Keep your eyes peeled at the checkout counter!))
- Look for bread with sprouted grains! Why? Because this makes it easier to digest. When a grain is sprouted, it means that it has already started to be broken down. So one less step for your digestive system. I also look for bread without cane sugar or syrup. I recently found Angelic Bakehouse and I’m in love with all of their sprouted breads.
That’s it! I hope these tips help you read a food label and feel in control of your choices.
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