I’ll admit I used to be slightly irritated when out grocery shopping observing certain individuals obsessively reading the labels of the products they were buying. What were they looking for? What was it all about, and was it really necessary…or just a bit OTT? Well I am proud to say that I am that person (keep reading and you’ll find out why)! I can’t say when or where it started or even how, but it was a gradual progression that began several years ago. I guess curiosity eventually got the better part of me so I started doing research…mind you I also have a huge curiosity in learning how things are made from food, crafts, skin care, to just about anything! If there is something tasty or beautiful that grabs my interest I’ll give a go at making it, or at the very least come up with my own version of it!
But back to the main point here – label reading! I began to realize the importance of being a label nerd as hardly anything is as it say’s on the packet. Thanks to marketing ploy’s, fancy wording, shiny packaging, etc…all fool us into believing what ever it say’s on the item ignoring the hidden fine print or lack of stated ingredients thereof.
3 Reasons Why You Should Be a Label Nerd:
As a consumer it’s our responsibility to educate ourselves on what we’re buying. Labels provide us with important information to help us make an informed decision before purchasing a product. A few reasons are:
- Provides key information such as use-by-dates, place of origin, name of manufacturer, allergens, and storage instructions. Of course this is a given!
- Provides you with nutritional information such as how much sugar, fats, salt, and calories it contains – helping you improve your diet and make cutbacks where necessary. If you’re counting calories to lose weight this can be quite helpful. Or if you’re looking to ensure you’re getting enough nutrition such as protein, calcium and minerals, this will be a quick guide.
- Helps you make an informed choice on misleading nutritional claims such as fat-free, sugar-free, and whole-grain. If it’s fat-free then the flavor is most likely compensated with oodles of sugar, if it’s sugar-free it’s probably a synthetic sweetener that’s even more damaging and contains added fat for flavor, or if the bread is brown but the list of ingredients state wheat flour as opposed to whole-wheat or whole-grain, then you’ve probably been duped with a bit of food coloring.
Fooled By Packaging?
I feel like a raging lunatic every time I come across a product that has a fancy package with false claims of its main ingredient. Those Fruit Roll-Ups that are “made with real fruit – an excellent source of Vitamin C“, are completely misleading if you didn’t read the list of ingredients. As far as I’m concerned if a package has a huge claim like that splashed all over the label then it had better be the first ingredient on the list with not many more to follow. Yup, that guacamole dip…isn’t made with much avocado, neither is that crab pate really crab, and that Mc Donald hamburger…well don’t get me started!!
Buy Real Food
One way you can avoid falling into the trap of misleading packaging is to buy REAL FOOD, food that isn’t processed or with a list of more than 5 ingredients. Aim to make all jams, dressings, sauces, and dips, as fresh is always best! If nothing else at least educate yourself on ingredients. Is it real? Are the nutritional claims accurate? Is it something you can make fresh instead? Is it worth the price? Knowing your ingredients helps you be a smart shopper saving you money and avoiding a whole lot of unhealthy ingredients!
Hopefully you’ve already caught the “label-reading-bug” and are a smart shopper, but if this is all new to you I URGE you to start thinking about what you’re buying. Besides the obvious of always buying fresh (I can’t promote that enough) an easy place to start is by educating yourself on ingredients you don’t want to be seeing on your labels, ingredients that are harmful and toxic for the body and completely unnecessary. Next always give a quick glance over the label, and finally decide on whether it’s something you really want to buy. This is smart shopping!