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5 Quick Steps To Mastering Food Label

evaluating  food label ingredients in 15 seconds or less

By checking off the trans fat, sugar, and sodium listed above, we’re assured there won’t be any MSG, high fructose corn syrup, or hydrogenated oils in this section.

Today I want to share with you some quick tips on how you can

evaluate a food label in 15 seconds or less and know if that food

is healthy or not!

It’s really important to know how to read the basics of a food

label because sometimes that’s the only way you’re going to know

what you’re really eating.  Here’s a quick checklist you can use to

evaluate the foods you are buying.


Trans and saturated fats


In the U.S., all packaged foods come with a nutrition facts label.

The first place my eyes go is to the fat content. I draw my

personal line in the sand at trans fat. We don’t need it, and there

is always another food option without it. Trans fat is man-made fat

that comes from dubious preparation processes. If an item has any,

it goes back on the shelf.

Next, I look at saturated fat. We don’t need much of it, and if we

eat meat or dairy products, then we have probably met our

requirements without it needing to be in our other foods.

Next to the number of grams, you’ll see the percentage of your

daily requirement that the food contains, eliminating the need for

math. If that number is high, be wary. Of course, you must evaluate

what you’re buying. Olive oil, for example, is a fat, so it’s going

to have a high number. However, you don’t use much. Potato chips,

on the other hand, would have a lower number, but you might eat the

entire bag, so you should consider that. But that’s obvious stuff,





Get instantly suspicious if this number is high. Sports foods are

supposed to have sugar because you want to quickly replace blood

glycogen lost during exercise. All other foods don’t need it. If

you’re buying a dessert item, you’ll expect a high ratio of sugar,

but for anything else, you’re probably getting a cheap product

that’s poorly produced. Remember that many “low-fat” foods have a

lot of sugar–it’s not technically fat. It just makes you fat.




Prepared foods usually have high levels of sodium.  Also,

oftentimes, you can find an “organic, nonfat, low-carb,” purely

healthy sounding food item that has over 1,000 milligrams of

sodium, which is around half of your “recommended daily allowance”

(RDA). What you’re generally looking for from these three “s”

ingredients (saturated fat, sugar, and sodium) is a low number, and

it only takes a few seconds to figure it out.


Fat, Protein, and Carbs Ratio


When choosing a food, you probably already know a few things about

it. If it’s butter, you’ll expect all fat; candy will be high in

sugar; and things that sit on a shelf may have a lot of sodium. For

meals, however, you’ll want to take a quick notation of the amount

of fat, protein, and carbs.

If you’re on a strict diet, this ratio is very important, but if

you’re not, you just want some balance. A nice round number is 40

percent carbs, 30 percent protein, and 30 percent fat. You can then

assume that your prepared “meals” would be better if they reflect a

similar balance.


Length of Ingredient List


Now just take a quick glance at where it says “Ingredients.” If

it’s under about 10 items, don’t worry about it. If there’s a long

list of ingredients, take caution.  There will be ingredients that

you can’t pronounce and you might not want to be eating things you

can’t even pronounce.  If it’s somewhere in the middle, I may take

a closer look, but in general I keep it simple.




There are a few “evil offender” ingredients on food label that people tend to

look for, but we’ve covered them. By checking off the trans fat,

sugar, and sodium listed above, we’re assured there won’t be any

MSG, high fructose corn syrup, or hydrogenated oils in this


By adding a mere 15 seconds per item, you may not have the perfect

diet, but you can certainly make sure it’s not terrible. This is

not an exact science, but your diet doesn’t have to be either. Eat

better and get more exercise. Beyond this, we’re nitpicking.

That’s it for today.  I hope you learned something.  Now go put it

to good use! 


 Dr. Justin Trosclair

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