Tips to Healthier Living Series: Part Two, Reading Labels

Today in Part two of my tips to Healthier Living Series, I am going to explain what I look for on a label and what ingredients I stay away from. You could read Part One here, if you missed it. It explains how I shop and start with the square.
When shopping the isles, the less healthy food choices, I usually read the label and check the ingredient list. You would think I would check the nutritional value of the item, but to tell you the truth, I don’t look at that at all. I look at the ingredients and the type of fat and sugar that is in the item.

Here is a little information that you may find on labels, what it means, and my comments about it.
On the label when it says:

Natural: Just mean that a portion of it has to be natural. I do not know what the percent has to be. I know it use to be only 10%. The regulations are always changing.
Organic: This means it is grown or made with no pesticides or synthetic fertilizers. I wish I could buy everything organic. The nutrients are much greater in organic food.
”Low Calorie”: means less than 40 calories per serving. If you count calories you also have to see how much is a serving. If you eat 2 or 3 servings your calories are then doubled or tripled. I do not count calories.
“Low Cholesterol”: 20 mg of cholesterol, 2 g or less of fat/serving. I don’t look at this either.
“Reduced Fat, Sugar, or Calories”: does not mean “free”, it means 25% less of the specified nutrient or calorie. I try and stay away from these foods. It usually means some other non-natural ingredient replaced whatever they took out.
"A good source of”:  means 10% of the DV, daily value, not necessarily a lot.
“Calorie Free”: provided less than 5 calories/serving. Calories are not important (to Me!)
“Fat Free or Sugar Free”: has less than 1/2 g /serving, which means an artificial sweetener or fat substitute has been added. Natural sweetener are best. I like to use pure raw honey (I get mine sometimes from the apple orchard near by), 100% maple syrup (grade B or C (less processing and more nutrients) are better than grade A , or stevia (a natural herb sweetener).
“Low Sodium”: less than 140 mg/serving (not your serving) you may have 4 servings. To much sodium is not good. Here again I wonder what is replacing the salt. I only use Celtic sea salt in my kitchen.
“High in”: means it has 20% of the daily value. Not necessarily High!
In the ingredient list, the items are listed in order of descending order by weight. I try to buy things with the least amount of ingredients. That usually means more natural.
Healthier Living 7 Series
Below is a list of things I look for, if I see them I don’t buy it.
I don’t buy:
Foods containing MSG (Monosodium Glutamate): “MSG is a neurotoxic substance that causes a wide range of reactions from temporary headaches to permanent brain damage. We have a huge increase in Alzheimer's, brain cancer, seizures, multiple sclerosis and diseases of the nervous system, and one of the chief reasons is these flavorings in our food. MSG is also associated with violent behavior. And it is everywhere in the food.”
Diet or Lite foods: Another type food where non-natural ingredients are added in order to fool the consumer into thinking they are buying something healthy.

Cereal: (you could read why here, I read Sally Fallon’s book 13 years ago and that is when I changed a lot of my ways of shopping and cooking.) I do buy oat meal.
Margarine: (I only use real butter) “Butter is a rich source of fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K. The saturated fat in butter actually enhances our immune function, protects the liver from toxins, provides nourishment for the heart in times of stress, gives stiffness and integrity to our cell membranes, and aids in the proper utilization of omega-3 essential fatty acids. Butter will add extra nutrients and flavor to your vegetables, whole grain breads, and sautéed dishes.”
This is how Sally Fallon describes how margarine is made “Margarine processing uses the cheapest seeds, most of which are full of pesticides and genetically engineered. Oil is extracted under high temperature and pressure, and the remaining fraction of oil is removed with hexane solvents. Then manufacturers steam clean the oils, which removes all the vitamins and all the antioxidants – but, of course, the solvents and the pesticides remain. These oils are mixed with a nickel catalyst and then put into a huge high-pressure, high-temperature reactor. What comes out of that reactor is a smelly mass resembling grey cottage cheese. Then they mix in the emulsifiers to smooth it out, and steam clean it again to get rid of the horrible smell. Then they bleach it to get rid of the grey color, and they add artificial flavors and synthetic vitamins. But they are not allowed to add a synthetic color to margarine. They have to add a natural color, such as annatto – a comforting thought. It is then packaged in blocks and tubs and advertised as health food.”  I never bought margarine again!
Hydrogenated Oils: “Many, many diseases have been associated with the consumption of these trans fatty acids - heart disease, cancer, and degeneration of joints and tendons (that is why we have so many hip replacements today) . The only reason that we are eating this stuff is because we have been told that the competing fats and oils, the butter, the lard, the coconut oil, the palm oil, the tallow and the suet are bad for us and cause heart disease. And that is nothing but industry propaganda to get us to buy substitutes.” I choose to buy only coconut nut oil and olive oil.
Pop and Soft Drinks:
Wow, there are so many reasons for this. This might be a whole post in itself.

Juice: (sometimes I buy juice, if there are no additional sugars added, and it is for a special occasion) This also will be part of a post I will do about sugars.

(except tortilla chips) I love salsa and guacamole!
Foods with corn syrup: Definitely another post!
In the isles I buy some canned goods (tomatoes, refried bean, tuna, pineapple) peanut butter, condiments, tortilla chips, popcorn, long grain brown rice, oatmeal, pasta, and whole grain breads. I used to make homemade bread with freshly ground grain. I just haven’t had the time lately so I buy whole grain bread and pitas (most of the time). I really want to teach my 12 year old to make bread, she loves to bake!

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The quotes that are in this post are from Sally Fallon’s Book. Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats


  1. Thanks for the posts! I love them. We do most of the things you talk about, but there are a few grey areas we still struggle with giving up.
    Keep up the healthy posts!

    1. You are not alone, it is hard sometimes. The more you learn how bad certain things are for you, the easier it is, most of the time.

  2. Wow...I will never look at margarine the same way again! Thanks for sharing!

  3. I am SO HAPPY you are doing this series!!! I am trying so hard to rid my home and young family of as much toxins, etc. as possible. I have followed many of your tips (we're coconut oil-aholics over here now!) and learned a lot from AM's blog as well. I recently read that canned tomatoes are a bad idea as well *sad face.* I really look forward to reading more of your tips and am throwing out my margarine as soon as I get home!

    1. I thought I heard something about the tomatoes also. I will have to look into that and see what they have to say. Thanks for following along!


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