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10 Ingredients and Labels to Avoid

10 Ingredients & Labels to Avoid

Since we’ve been on this real food journey for awhile now, I have learned over the years the difference between what many labels and ingredients mean. It’s become second nature to me. It’s important to know what foods to buy but also what foods to avoid. Food marketers have become very sneaky and savvy in their advertising. Knowing that consumers want healthy food, they bet on the fact that many may not read or know exactly how to decipher food labels. It becomes a big marketing game at your expense. Keywords such as “natural,” “low-fat,” “whole grains,” and more are used to give us the illusion that we are buying healthy products.

This list contains ingredients or labels that I try to steer away from while shopping. I think it’s important to be aware of these so that you, too, can easily avoid them and make better choices. And while it may sound restrictive, the good news is that there are always alternative real food options that are easily found at many conventional grocery store, health food stores, or even on the internet in places such as Amazon.

  1. The words, “healthy,” and/or “natural.”
    Even after all these years, seeing these words still makes makes me pick up the package or box. It’s a truly magically marketing word that makes us think we are doing something good for ourselves. Avoid products that use these words on the front of the package to proclaim it’s qualities.
    Alternative: ALWAYS read the ingredient labels!
  2. High Fructose Corn Syrup, Refined Sugars, and Artificial Sweeteners.
    Stick with sugar that is as minimally processed as possible. Look for sweeteners such as raw honey, 100% maple syrup, dates, coconut sugar, or stevia. Read the ingredient labels as many products contain hidden sugars.
    Alternative: Look for products without refined or added sugars. These can include corn syrup, cane sugar, or artificial sweeteners.
  3. Carrageenan
    A highly debated product, carrageenan is found in many products ranging from dairy products to toothpastes. It’s used to make the texture of products creamier, but can be harmful if ingested in large amounts. I choose to steer clear of this ingredient since it’s not something that fits the real food rules and I would NOT have found in my great-grandmother’s pantry.
    Alternative: Look for products without carrageenan. Silk brand of almond milk does not contain this ingredient. Or make it yourself! This almond milk recipe is easy and tastes delish!
  4. Canola, Soybean, or Vegetable Oils
    Even though “vegetable” oil sounds healthy, in all actuality it’s not. All of these oils are highly refined and most likely genetically modified.
    Alternatives: Coconut oil, olive oil, grass-fed butter, or ghee. You can even use unsweetened applesauce as a substitute in baking or use water when sauteing.
  5. Low-Fat or Fat-Free Products
    In the late 1980’s the “fat free” and “low fat” craze hit and these products flew off the shelves. In turn, these companies added sugar, artifical flavors, and carrageenan for flavor and texture. Any time you see the words, “low fat” or “fat free,” put down the product and run!
    Alternative: When purchasing dairy products, always purchase full fat, plain varieties. For all other products, read the labels and avoid any artificial ingredients and sugars.
  6. Flavorings
    I try to avoid all artificial flavorings including the infamous “natural” flavorings. You’d be surprised how many granola bars or cereals contain “blueberries” or “strawberries” that are nothing more than an artificial flavor.
    Alternative: Buy real ingredients. Flavor foods yourself including oatmeal, yogurt, or baked goods.
  7. Food Dyes
    There are many questions to the effect of food dyes on our children, particularly their effects on mood and behavior. Naturally, we avoid it whenever possible.
    Alternative: When you need food dyes for things like a birthday cake, try to use whole food options such as strawberries or blueberries.
  8. Soy Lecithin
    Used primarily as an emulsifier, you can find soy lecithin in anything from salad dressings to tea bags to chocolate. Because it’s derived from soy, it most likely is genetically modified and is refined.
    Alternative: Make your own foods to avoid this ingredient. Try chocolate made without this ingredient. I love Theo’s chocolate bars and use Enjoy Life’s Dark Chocolate Chips.
  9. Too Many Ingredients
    A huge red flag for me is an ingredient label that is loaded with unidentifiable ingredients. Most companies will highlight ingredients on the front of the box to make you think they are healthy, but the ingredient list doesn’t lie. When you turn the package over to read the list, if you see more than 5 ingredients that you most likely wouldn’t find in your own kitchen, put it down and walk away.
    Alternative: Try to purchase ingredients rather than ready made products. If you do purchase a product, make sure the ingredient list is short and you can pronounce each ingredient.
  10. Pasteurized Juices or Ultra-Pasteurized Milk
    Pasteurizing or ultra-pasteurizing heats juice or milk to a high temperature to kill any bacteria. The problem is, it also kills any beneficial nutrients resulting in a  “dead” food.
    Alternative: Make non-dairy almond milk easily from scratch. If you are looking for a dairy milk, and your state allows the sale of raw milk, then purchase grass-fed raw milk from a reputable farm. You can make  your own juice at home using real fruits and vegetables. All you need is a juicer or try a green smoothie in your blender.

Take Aways

  • Read ingredient labels.
    Always ask yourself if you would use those ingredients in your own kitchen. If not, put it back.
  • Use ingredients instead of buying pre-packaged foods.
    Learn to cook with these ingredients and make your own homemade versions. Your food will taste better and you won’t have to worry if the ingredients are real or not.
  • Be informed!
    Question products and get to know which companies you can trust. Once you learn, shopping will become easier!

Until next time, keep it real.

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Do You Need a Health Coach?

Health Coaching

The Health of Our Nation is Declining

It’s estimated that as much as 70% of the adult population is either overweight or obese and 81% of the population takes at least 1 medication a day, with most people averaging closer to 2-3 meds daily. Reasons include symptoms such as high anxiety, high blood pressure, diabetes, cancer, stroke, stress, heart disease, insomnia, heartburn, hypothyroidism and more. Most of which are diet related and are both preventable and/or reversible with healthy lifestyle changes.

It’s no secret obesity is becoming a huge problem, even in children. According to the CDC, childhood obesity has more than doubled in children and quadrupled in adolescents in the past 30 years. Type 2 diabetes, once considered a disease of middle or old age, is now affecting a staggering number of overweight children. Today’s children, based on research, might be the first generation to live less healthy and possibly even shorter lives than their parents.  Clearly all this “healthy” eating isn’t so healthy after all.

What’s the Best Diet?

In today’s society we are bombarded with conflicting health information. One day fat is bad, the next day it’s good. Adkins is the best diet, then Paleo is all the rage. Fruit has too much sugar, now we aren’t eating enough of it.  We have completely overcomplicated healthy eating and it’s no wonder our heads are spinning! But it’s really much simpler than we make it out to be. I love the way Michael Pollan puts it in his book In Defense of Food, “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.”

Wanting to change to a real food lifestyle and actually doing it are two different things. When we first started out over 3 years ago, the information was overwhelming. I didn’t know where to start, I didn’t know what to make, when I thought I was making good choices I actually wasn’t and I spent a lot of time sorting it all out. Eventually, I learned how to navigate my way around the grocery store, how to convert recipes to real food ingredients and put an actual meal on the table. But the process was long, hard and often frustrating.

What is a Health Coach?

Health coaching is a term that’s slowly gaining momentum nowadays, and with good reason. Millions of people nationwide are finding that the Western diet and medicine is often times leaving them fat and sick, without answers to their ills and they’re repeatedly finding themselves disappointed and depressed.

Health coaches can bridge the gap and offer more in-depth support where you otherwise might not know where else to turn. They can also help you achieve health goals that don’t require medical intervention, such as losing weight, creating better eating habits or establishing a new exercise routine. They can fill the roles of confidant, cheerleader, motivator, friend, and when necessary, they can give you a good kick in the pants to get you back on track.

How I Can Help

Our blog has become a source of information to help you achieve your real food lifestyle. But when you find that you need some extra one-on-one attention and guidance this is where I can help. Learn what we can achieve by working together.

Here are 10 things that I can do for you:

  1. Help you understand what real food is.
  2. Determine what is “good” food and “bad” food.
  3. Help you clean out your refrigerator and/or pantry.
  4. Help you navigate the grocery store aisles with ease.
  5. Give you personal feedback on any questions.
  6. Help get a health plan in place.
  7. Help you pick real food recipes that fit within the rules.
  8. Help you feed your family well regardless of your schedule.
  9. Teach you how to cook.
  10. Help carry out a doctor’s nutritional advice.

Don’t try and go at this alone. Together we can get you and your family on the road to a healthier, happier you!

Contact me at tracey@realfoodlife.com for more information or check out our services page to book your service. Make sure to sign up for our newsletter so you don’t miss important posts.

Until next time, keep it real.

Dairy: 6 Reasons You Should Avoid It at all Costs

Criticizing milk in America is like taking on motherhood, apple pie or baseball. But that’s just what I’m about to do.

Got milk? Plenty of people think its perfectly healthy to drink, and advertisements would have you eating dairy all the time. But it may not be as healthy as you think. In this weeks UltraWellness blog Dr. Mark Hyman gives six reasons you should avoid milk and explains why it may be at the very root of your health problems.

Why Drinking Milk Is Rocket Fuel For Cancer

Most of us in my age range grew up being taught and conditioned to believe that drinking milk was a healthy option and that it should be a staple in your daily life.

Most of us in my age range grew up being taught and conditioned to believe that drinking milk was a healthy option and that it should be a staple in your daily life.

Wow, our parents and all of us through our childhood and still today are brainwashed on the benefits of drinking milk. In my opinion, the dairy industry’s commercials about how milk is supposed to do a body good is a crime and it couldn’t be further from the truth!

Let’s get to the facts on why drinking milk is foundation to illness and disease including, sinusitis, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, osteoporosis and potentially cancer!

Starchivores: John A. McDougall, M.D. & Nathaniel Dominy PhD.

 

“That’s a myth,” says anthropologist Nathanial Dominy, PhD from Dartmouth College. “Hunter-gathers, the majority of their calories come from plant foods … meat is just too unpredictable.”