Learning how to read food packaging is vital to understanding your relationship with the food you buy and eat. Despite the effort involved in learning to ignore the buzz-words, sales pitches and image association techniques that splash themselves across everything we buy these days, there are really only three things you need to find when you are looking to read food packaging, other than the product name, and mostly they’re hidden in the most boring place on the box: the back.
Product Weight/Serving Details
Does this meat contain unnecessary chemical?
Don’t forget, you only have to read a package once, because when you read through all the various ‘hams’ or ‘breads’ or ‘peanut butters’ to find the ones that are healthiest, you’ll always remember that its your safe choice. This means that knowing how to read food packaging is a skill that you’ll use a lot for the first two months, and then steadily less as you become familiar with the various bundles of poison and nutrition that saturate your favorite hunting grounds.
Let me offer you a closer look at everything that matters on food packaging beyond the noise. Learn to understand how you’re treating your body, and what your alternatives are.
A product’s ingredients are listed in descending quantitative order, which is important, because a product can contain the same ingredients but have a very different reaction inside of your body dependent on the quantities of those ingredients. So pay attention to where in the list an ingredient appears if it’s an ingredient that you are trying to avoid. And of course, avoid eating ingredients altogether if you don’t understand their relationship with your body.
For those of you that haven’t yet acquainted themselves with the two rules of my How2LiveOnEarth system, learn more now by clicking on the hyperlink.
Product Weight/Serving Details
Either weight or serving details are important when attempting to understand the Nutritional Details segment of the label, as nutritional details often look surprisingly positive at first glance, right up until you notice that these details are normally given with a “per serving” caveat, which obligates you to then try and figure out how much of the product they mean when they tell you that it’s only got 10mg of sugar in “a serving”.
Companies are sneaky, so make no mistake when you read food packaging, they are trying to deceive you when they employ deliberately confusing calculation systems like this. It’s like the sleazy used car salesman that deliberately talks too fast in order to make the details of the ‘great deal’ he’s pitching get lost in the storm.
Don’t let them win. Know when you’re eating poison.
Clearly there are things on this list that some people will need to be more vigilant of than others. Consult your doctor for further details on this aspect of how you read food packaging. However, if you’re trying to just generally avoid dying prematurely and have no otherwise conflicting medical conditions, these are the things that you’ll want to pay closest attention to on the Nutritional Details segment of the label.
Specifically, how much of the carbohydrate content is ‘sugar’. This is a deceptive statement, because it’s not simply ‘sugar’ a lot of the time, but actually fructose or sucrose. The ‘sugar’ in the Nutritional Details segment of the label refers to these ‘sugar’ mutants, but can also be glucose, lactose or any other number of ‘sugars’ that your body responds positively to. Lot’s of carbohydrates are great for you, even some sugars. But ‘sugar’ is a deliberately ambiguous nutritional term if its really just a mask for fructose or sucrose. Therefore, look at the Ingredients list to see what kind of ‘sugar’ they’re referencing in the Nutritional Details segment. Organic Evaporated Cane Juice and Natural Flavors; two examples of names used to replace fructose or sugar on food labels. Both are misleadingly made to sound like healthy ingredients, though neither are.
The only fat that we’re certain you should be losing sleep over is trans-fat. It’s also the only fat mankind needs to produce in factories because it occurs so rarely in nature. Because it’s poisonous.
Cholesterol & Sodium
For lots of people Cholesterol and Sodium are really important factors. Take note if you’re among the millions of people suffering from ailments like high blood pressure/cholesterol, etc.. If you’re unaware of those recommendations: consult your family doctor. Talk with them about the adjustments you’re looking to make to your food/health relationship and follow their advice.
Omega 6 and Omega 3
Not just in a single product, which can be difficult, but in your overarching diet this one is very important. Find foods that expose you to the correct ratio of 2:1 pro-inflammatory to anti-inflammatory (Omega 6 to Omega 3). The level of inflammation your cells experience has a heavy influence on your body’s internal mechanisms. Like the tires on your car, you need to keep the pressure in the green zone; this is where you do that tuning for your body.
How It Works In Reality
Be aware that there is a lot of salesmanship distorting the labels of almost all food. Loose language piggy-backing on science is a primary issue here.
For instance, what does the word “Healthy” even mean?
For most people ‘healthy’ means “good for you”. Many of us now associate expressions like, “gluten-free”, “GMO-free”, “all natural ingredients”, “organic”, “hormone-free”, “antioxidants”, “low-fat” or “reduced-fat”, as well as many others, with an implication of “healthiness”. In reality, most products that meet those definitions are totally inappropriate for normal people to consume, containing body damaging chemicals.
For example: energy drinks that say they contain antioxidants, but their ingredients still shamelessly reveal dangerous quantities of fructose combined with caffeine. This creates a hazardous chemical cocktail that places the organs in your body under great strain.
Companies that make food are reliably trying to deceive you.
I trust product packaging for the sections above (Ingredients, Nutritional Details, Product/Weight Serving Details) because companies failing to report the truth in these sections reliably experience litigation and profit degenerating impacts to their consumer reputation. But everywhere else on the package is free game for lies, so learn to ignore it.
Learn how to read food packaging and let the facts inform your decisions, even if you decide to eat junk sometimes. Knowing what you’re doing is the key to reclaiming your relationship with food!
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