Confused By Food Labels? Here’s A Solution
October 9, 2012 27 Comments
Last week, Snack Girl complained about hidden ingredients in her food (see: You Need To Be A Detective To Find These Hidden Ingredients). Now, I going to teach you some tricks.
Many people mentioned these toaster pastries when I wrote about PopTarts so I thought I would evaluate them. I was inspired by this question from Wendy:
The problem I have is feeling overwhelmed by all the things to look for in nutrition labels.
I feel my head swimming and I just want to throw in the towel and buy a bag of Tostitos and and eat the whole thing in one sitting...LOL
Yes, I want to by the FAMILY size Tostitos and eat the whole bag :)
Her e-mail inspired me to share my tips for assessing a food product quickly.
Tip #1: Ignore everything on the front of the package. These lovely Organic Nature’s Path Toaster Pastries not only have blueberries and the words “Organic” and “Made With Real Fruit” - there is a Robert Frost poem on the bottom of the box:
“You ought to have seen what I saw on my way
To the village, through Mortenson’s pasture today:
Blueberries as big as the end of your thumb,
Real sky-blue, and heavy, and ready to drum
In the cavernous pail of the first one to come!”
from “Blueberries” by Robert Frost
Just ignore everything, including great poetry, if you are trying to assess if this food is a good choice.
Tip #2: Look at the FIRST ingredient in the ingredients list. It will tell you the most about its relative health as opposed to another product. I always check to see if this is sugar. From the package, you might think it would be blueberries.
The first ingredient here is wheat flour and not sugar which is a good thing, BUT you have to notice that it doesn’t say WHOLE wheat flour. These means that these toaster pastries are not 100% whole wheat which is too bad. There is whole wheat flour added but it is the fifth ingredient. Blueberries, the theme for the box comes in at #11. Huh.
Tip #3: Check out the grams of sugar. For me, this is a big indicator if this is a TREAT or a healthy snack. Five grams of sugar is about 1 teaspoon.
Hello! 20 Grams of sugar! That means there are 4 teaspoons of sugar in every pastry. Wow! Now there are 28 grams of sugar in a regular Pop-Tart so you are saving yourself a bit here - but that is still a lot for breakfast.
Nature’s Path does write “A Treat You Can Feel Good About” on the package. Remember a few lines ago when I told you to ignore the package? This company is being truthful, actually, about their product. This is a treat.
For some of you, sodium will be important as well. I do keep that in mind when I am looking at savory food.
Just remember: ignore the label, look at the first ingredient, check the grams of sugar for a quick assessment.
Please share your tips for assessing nutrition labels.
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