Hidden Ingredients: Reasons to become a Label Reader

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Lean Cuisine advertises low calorie healthy foods but they are packed with sodium.

By Jaime Rice

Not so long ago I used to never read the nutrition labels on the foods I would purchase. I would take whatever the item said on the front as the truth. Whether it was a low fat yogurt or a 100 calories snack, I would assume it was the healthy option. Little did I know the low fat yogurt was packed with as much sugar as a candy bar and the 100 calorie snack serving size was much smaller than I expected.

Once I started educating myself on nutrition is when I really started looking at the nutrition labels of the foods I was buying. I was truly shocked to see how much sodium and sugar were in my favorite foods. For example a single Lean Cuisine frozen meal has almost half your allotted sodium for the day.

While it may be more convenient and low in calories it is not worth consuming a tiny sodium bomb, plus I was hungry an hour after eating the tiny frozen dinner. It is much better to prepare a meal the day before to make sure you know exactly what nutritional value your food contains. Grilled chicken with sweet potato, veggies and fruit is a much better option than any frozen dinner, not to mention more filling and satisfying.

Yogurt is another favorite food with many different “healthy” varieties which is the best option? low calorie, low carb, low fat, Greek, etc? I prefer Greek yogurt due to higher protein in Greek yogurt. Even comparing two of the same brand of Greek yogurt, there is a huge difference.

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Dannon Oikos Triple Zero is an excellent Greek yogurt choice

One, the Dannon Triple Zero has 7 gram of sugar and 15 gram of protein; while the Dannon Greek Nonfat yogurt has 18 grams of sugar and 12 grams of protein. They both look like relatively good choices since one specifically says “Nonfat” but in reality you never want your sugar to be higher than protein. When I first started eating Greek yogurt it took me about 10 minutes to find the best one due to checking each brands labels. Most items marketed as “Healthy” are usually not.

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Regular Dannon Oikos Greek Nonfat yogurt is not the best Greek yogurt choice due to having 18 grams of sugar

Oatmeal is another big offender. I would suggest to never buy the prepackaged instant. Although it is marketed as “Heart Healthy” the added sugar and calories aren’t worth the tiny serving size. Instead buy the regular rolled oats and add to fruit, honey, cinnamon etc. look at difference between Apples and Cinnamon instant oatmeal and the regular rolled oats. Pay attention to the sodium, sugar and calorie

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Apples and Cinnamon Instant Oatmeal has 12 grams of sugar and 160 calories a packet

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Regular Rolled oats have only 1 gram of sugar and 150 calories per serving which is a 1/2cup measured dry

The regular rolled oats have only 1 gram of sugar with 150 calories per serving and 0 gram of sodium! Add your own cinnamon and apples or desired fruit and your oatmeal will be more nutritionally sound.

There countless more foods that have hidden ingredients, specifically sugar and sodium. This may take some getting use to and will definitely take longer initially at the grocery store to read every label. Once you do, you will be surprised at what all is actually in the foods you are eating. Making some easy and simple changes can save you a ton of unnecessary calories, sugar and sodium.

Follow me on Instagram @ms.rice19

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