Updated: May 28
What counts when reading food labels is the number of chemicals found within each food.
The days of calorie counting are over, as it has been proven that counting calories does not lead to weight loss.
The future of healthy eating lies in learning how to read food labels and choosing foods that are as close to their natural state as possible (not processed or packaged). For example, both table sugar and high fructose corn syrup are made from chemicals, but one contains more chemicals than the other; therefore, one will be less healthy than the other.
Look For The Ingredients List
You’re trying to figure out if there are too many calories in a product—but you won’t get that information from a food label. Instead, look for an ingredients list. If sugar or flour or some other simple carbohydrate is one of top three ingredients, then there are likely lots of calories.
Ideally, you want products with as few ingredients as possible and foods where every ingredient contributes nutritional value (like broccoli). And never overlook serving size; sometimes products sound better than they really are because they have small serving sizes.
Lastly, be aware that serving sizes aren’t standard across all brands so check grams against ounces when reading labels side-by-side. After practicing reading nutrition labels for a while, most people find it much easier to spot when something isn’t healthy.
No matter what your food shopping strategy is, always read nutrition labels! Keep your wits about you when grocery shopping and trust yourself: Your eyes will reveal more truth than what you give them credit for.
Count In Terms of Chemicals, Not Calories
food labels offer a lot of eye opening information!
While calories have become a major part of public health messaging in recent years, those counting calories may be missing something important about food and drink. A study published in JAMA Internal Medicine last fall found that even when people drink diet soda and think they’re making a healthy choice for their waistline, they don’t necessarily choose lower-calorie options than those who opt for regular soda—they just end up eating more chemicals instead.
Which is worse?
Obviously there are tradeoffs to both scenarios, but chemical additives can sometimes have worse side effects than added sugar.
If you eat something made with high fructose corn syrup or other chemical ingredients, you are getting these additional chemical compounds that you probably don’t need or want and we know very little about what they do to us over time, said Rebecca Gottesman Klinefelter in an interview with CNN last year.
We tend to focus on calorie content because it’s easily measurable, but it doesn’t capture everything in our diets. So forget calories: Go straight for reading labels and understand exactly what you're consuming by counting (and knowing) your chemicals.
Where can you begin?
When you look at a food choice, compare its food label to the competitor's brand. Which one has more chemicals? Choose the one with less.
Try to make choices where food is closer to a whole foods as opposed to processed pre-packaged foods.