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I really want to get my family eating healthier. When reading labels, what should I look for beside fat and sugar content. I'm a newbie at this and need alot of help please. I starting to buy organic where I can.
 

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I would also stay away from any artificial ingredients (sweenters, preservatives, colors) and hydrongenated fats. If a packaged good has the USDA certified organic label on it, then it means that it doesn't have any of the afore-mentioned crap in it.

+organic and seasonal produce is best (no persistant pesticides, etc and more nutrient dense)

+hormone-free & antibiotic-free (grassfed) meats, poultry

+oganic eggs, milks (even do reseach on raw cow milk & goat milk)

+wild caught fish (especially salmon, halibut- good omega-3 fatty acids)
 

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When reading labels, I put back on the shelf anything that has:
High Fructose Corn Syrup
Hydrogenated or Partially Hydrogenated anything
Mono-sodium glutamate (MSG)
Sugar as the first ingredient (depending on the item, listing sugar at all is sometimes a no-go, like canned tomatoes)
Inulin (a form of fiber that my body does not like)
Sugar Alcohols (Maltitol, Sorbitol, Mannitol are three of the main ones)
Modified Food Starch (I'm ok with cornstarch)
Aspartame/Nutri-sweet
Saccharine/Sweet & Low
Processed soy products
Nitrates/Nitrites

When I first started reading labels, I think I started with the first 4 items, and it's gradually grown over the years as I do more research and learn my body better. I'm sure I'm missing something from the list, but you get the general idea...
 

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Quote:

Originally Posted by CaraNicole View Post
i kinda like the "if you can't pronounce it, don not eat it"
Me too. I try to make sure as many ingredients as possible are actual food. I allow 1 or 2 non-food ingredients as long as it's not high-fructose corn syrup or partially hydrogenated oil or something horrible like that.
 

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Quote:

Originally Posted by cristeen View Post
When reading labels, I put back on the shelf anything that has:
High Fructose Corn Syrup
Hydrogenated or Partially Hydrogenated anything
Mono-sodium glutamate (MSG)
Sugar as the first ingredient (depending on the item, listing sugar at all is sometimes a no-go, like canned tomatoes)
Inulin (a form of fiber that my body does not like)
Sugar Alcohols (Maltitol, Sorbitol, Mannitol are three of the main ones)
Modified Food Starch (I'm ok with cornstarch)
Aspartame/Nutri-sweet
Saccharine/Sweet & Low
Processed soy products
Nitrates/Nitrites

When I first started reading labels, I think I started with the first 4 items, and it's gradually grown over the years as I do more research and learn my body better. I'm sure I'm missing something from the list, but you get the general idea...
I stay away from everything on that list except Inulin. I do not think it is harmful (except in your case where it disagrees with your system). I have heard that it is a valuable ingredient in yogurt, as it encourages the probiotic cultures to take root in your gut.

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I try not to buy any prepackaged stuff. I buy meat, vegetables, grains, and dairy as pure as possible, and make my own stuff. On rare occasion I will buy a jar or can of something, like salsa or soup.
 

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Cristeen's list is good.
I read in a book the advice to avoid all food with labels - especially when the front of the package makes a big health claim (like certain diet foods) - but some things that are good for you often come in packaging with a label. So I adjust that to say "things with no ingredient list". Whole foods are the way to go - local and organic are very important, but there is plenty of organic and locally made "junk food" out there.
 

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Quote:

Originally Posted by kallyn View Post
Me too. I try to make sure as many ingredients as possible are actual food. I allow 1 or 2 non-food ingredients as long as it's not high-fructose corn syrup or partially hydrogenated oil or something horrible like that.
Me three. I've recently gone from allowing a few non-food ingredients that aren't HFCS, MSG, or (partially) hydrogenated, to only allowing non-food ingredients that I know what they are. Hmmm, nothing specific comes to mind. Usually what I do is buy one of the thing, then bring it home and research what's in it. If I don't like what I find, I don't buy that item again.

I also watch out for the "renamed" MSG. I read somewhere that there are other names they use to try to make you think it doesn't have it. One of them was...autolyzed yeast extract?
Ah, here we go: http://www.msgmyth.com/hidename.htm
Watch out for chicken broth, even a lot of "good organic" brands contain this. The only one I've found that doesn't is called Imagine.

If it has *any* artificial sweetener, I refuse to buy it. This includes aspartame (NutraSweet) and sucralose (Splenda).

I also read once that the term "spices" or "natural flavors" can really mean just about anything. I try to avoid it, but sometimes I can't. Really, if it's not all whole foods, I ask myself if I can make that item or something similar. I haven't cut out everything, but it has really helped me to cut down on the processed foods to think of it as "do I have to have it" rather than "can I have it". Somehow the latter is easier for me to justify, not sure why.
 

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Quote:

Originally Posted by luvmy2boys View Post
I also watch out for the "renamed" MSG. I read somewhere that there are other names they use to try to make you think it doesn't have it. One of them was...autolyzed yeast extract?
Ah, here we go: http://www.msgmyth.com/hidename.htm
I realize this thread is old, but thank you for posting this! I was reading in "A Beginner's Guide to Natural Living" about this concept. I'm not vegan, I'm still very much learning, but when it says all gelatin has MSG... are we talking Jello type stuff?
 

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So, I'm never buying Jello again. But from that article, it says
"Special kinds of gelatin are made only from certain animals or from fish (known as K-gelatin) in order to comply with Jewish kosher or Muslim halal laws. Vegetarians and vegans may substitute similar gelling agents such as agar, nature gum, carrageenan, pectin, or konnyaku sometimes referred to as "vegetable gelatins" although there is no chemical relationship; they are carbohydrates, not proteins"

"Gelatin is an irreversibly hydrolyzed form of collagen"

"The name "gelatin" is colloquially applied to all types of gels and jellies; but properly used, it currently refers solely to the animal protein product"

And from the list of alternative names for MSG are
Foods always contain MSG when these words are on the label:
Gelatin
Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein (HVP)
Hydrolyzed Plant Protein (HPP)
Foods made with the following products often contain MSG:
Carrageenan
Pectin

I'm seeing the same names on both lists.
 
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