How to Read Food Labels

So many new "clean" brands are on the market, and many more that advertise themselves as healthy but may not be.  It can be difficult to decipher what is a good choice without heading down a 45 min rabbit hole in the store. 

As you head to the grocery store, here are some things to look for as you read food labels:

STEP ONE: Look at the end of the ingredient list for a call out.  

FDA regulation requires that the nine major allergens (wheat, eggs, milk, soy, shellfish, fish, peanuts, tree nuts, and sesame)  be listed at the end of the ingredient section in a call out that starts with "Contains".  

If it says CONTAINS: WHEAT, MILK, or SOY in the allergen callout- put it back, it is not on plan

In this example you can quickly see it is NOT on plan due to milk (in the form of cheese)
outer aisle cauliflower thins

STEP TWO: Look Under "Added Sugars" (Not sugars).  

Fruits and some vegetables naturally have sugar, and yes we are mindful of consuming even natural sugars in excess. But the bigger concern is added sugar

 Added sugars should be ZERO, if not- put it back.

In this example you can quickly see it is NOT on plan due to added sugar (see "organic raw cane sugar" in the ingredients)
lesser evil watermelon popcorn

STEP THREE: Look in the Ingredient List for common off plan ingredients.

Remember they are listed in order of quantity! On plan avoid these ingredients in any quantity.  At goal, you may decide that if it's minimal (listed last) you may want to try it.

  • potato starch
  • corn starch/modified corn starch
  • rice syrup / brown rice syrup (sugar)
  • rice flour
  • oats
  • corn
  • dextrose- any "-ose" sugar
  • whey or whey protein (should be listed as milk under allergens)
  • maple syrup
  • honey
  • dates/date paste
  • cassava flour
  • peanuts

Many "healthy" foods contain these ingredients- so read closely!  If you see one- put it back


In this example we have added sugar, corn starch, potato starch, dextrose, modified cornstarch and honey (sugar)

snyders gluten free pretzels

STEP FOUR: Look for a chemical s--t storm.   Any time you don't recognize many of the ingredients- put it back. 

Yes, many foods may have one or two stabilizers or preservatives in them, and sometimes that's unavoidable, but often "low fat" or "healthy" foods are loaded with chemicals and gums to mimic the consistency and mouthfeel of their full fat counterparts. 

If you don't know what many of the ingredients are- put it back, you shouldn't put it in your body

STARBUCKS EGG WHITE BITES: In this example (a common offender!) really the whole list should be yellow! It's loaded with off plan ingredients, chemicals and gums. Potential carcinogens and inflammatory ingredients abound. starbucks egg white bites

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