One time when I went to the grocery store I was curious to know what people buy so I looked at other shoppers' carts. I was really amazed at the amount of packaged foods folks buy.
I'm a label reader and since I don't trust most ingredients in packaged foods most of my shopping cart ends up being fresh produce. I would say 80 percent of my cart is organic fresh produce and organic, grass-fed meats and frozen organic produce.
I've pretty much given up on buying a lot of packaged foods because so often there is an ingredient that is questionable or has been known to have carcinogenic properties. Below is a list of what I look for when reading labels.
Top Ingredients To Avoid
- Sugar is a big one! It's called so many different things like evaporated cane syrup, brown sugar, corn fructose, organic sugar, turbinado sugar, molasses, muscovado, corn syrup solids, agave nectar, raw sugar, brown rice syrup, confectioner's sugar, fruit juice, Splenda (fake sugar), aspartame (fake sugar). See more names for sugar here. Sugar is in practically everything in the grocery store from breads to cereals. As a nation we are addicted to sugar. What I've learned about sugar is that it messes up your healthy cells. It also accelerates the aging process. Sugar is very addictive; your body gets hooked on it in very much the same manner as it does to smoking, alcohol, or drugs. It's not something to fool around with. If the label does not read coconut sugar, stevia, or coconut nectar, I won't put it in my cart (and get really upset at my husband when he does). Even if the label reads "sugarless" it doesn't necessarily mean that the package does not contain sugar.
- MSG or monosodium glutamate is harmful. I've seen this also disguised in labels. If you see "yeast extract" on a label it's the same as MSG. My son and I highly react to MSG and get hives.
- Xanthan gum and other gums should also be avoided. Xanthan gum is very common and can be found it many grocery items like frozen pizza, almond milk, and ice cream. It can cause irritation in the digestive system, throat and nose. My son reacts horribly to xanthan gum, causing him to scratch. I would also avoid other gums like guar guar gum.
- Canola oil and other processed oils are not good fats. I stopped cooking with canola oil, vegetable oil, PAM cooking oil, Crisco, butter, margarine, and shortening a long time ago. It's better to cook with healthy fats like olive oil, coconut oil, avocado oil (organic, extra virgin, and cold pressed are best). Fats from clean animals (animals raised on an organic diet), like duck fat, are also good.. From time to time I will also use goat butter and ghee.
- Table salt is processed and unhealthy. The two salts that I look for are Himalayan pink sea salt and Celtic sea salt. Himalayan and Celtic salts are the healthiest salts available. Anything else I avoid.
- Cornstarch is questionable. What I've read about cornstarch is that it can be filled with GMOs (genetically modified organisms). I haven't used cornstarch in a long time now. Instead I purchase arrowroot and kudzu. They are healthy and so good for you.
- Modified anything is not a good idea. I see the word "modified" a lot in labels. Why does food need to be modified in the first place? To me modified means it's been chemically tampered with. And that's the last thing that I want to do with my body and my family's.
- Carrageenan is another questionable ingredient to avoid. Carrageenan is an additive that can be found in many non-dairy and dairy items as well as other packaged foods. Carrageenan may cause issues like inflammation and digestive disorders.
- BPA is in a lot of canned and packaged food items. There are studies that show that BPA may negatively effect the brain and behavior as well as be linked to cancer, heart problems, and other health issues. I like to look for BPA-free packaging or glass jar packaging.
If you're dealing with health issues or just want to start eating clean, I recommend spending some time writing down a grocery list before going to the store. This can help you from getting sidetracked with all the marketing in grocery stores. Stick to the list. Before going to the checkout counter just glance at your cart. If it's not filled with at least 80 percent fresh produce review everything before you buy. If 80 percent sounds too high, then buy as many fresh organic items as possible and avoid packaged foods. Health is wealth, folks!
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