Thursday, November 17, 2011

Picking Packaged Foods

We've been talking lots about grocery shopping, reading labels, processed foods, and additives.  One key to remember is that foods have different levels of processing.  If a food is not in it's whole, natural, raw form it has undergone some form of processing.  Thus, not ALL processed foods are bad for you - think natural nut butter, dried fruit, olive oil, whole wheat bread/pasta/rice, frozen fruits and vegetables, etc.  

Food processing was originally designed to make foods last longer (and in some cases it's still used for that).  Think of pickling, canning, salting, smoking, and pasteurizing for example.  These processes allowed people to eat foods even when they were out of season and kept them from spoiling.  However, it seems that processing continues, but we also have access to food every time we turn around!

In her book Go UnDiet, Gloria Tsang (Registered Dietitian, advises people to UN-LOW.  When foods are labelled as low-fat or low-sugar they often contain other ingredients to simulate those that have been removed; they undergo more processing and become further from the original natural state.  The only "low" claim Gloria says is a positive one is low-sodium (salt). 

Gloria talks about highly processed foods that have had artificial ingredients added and/or have had fibre and nutrients removed.  Her tips to avoid some of the worst offenders include:
  • avoid products with cartoon characters on the box
  • avoid fat-free products
  • read ingredient lists; generally a shorter list is better than a longer list
  • choose fresh over convenient
  • consider if you could make it at home 
These are just a few ideas to help you become more aware of what goes into your house and into your body.  Start with one small step such as comparing the serving size of two similar products (or the sodium content, fibre content...).

Seek out a Dietitian if you need more specific information to help get you started on the road to a healthy future!

Steph Wheler
something nutrishus counselling & coaching