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lcriswell0421 11-12-2012 03:27 PM

Food Labels
 
What are, in your opinion, the most important things to avoid when reading food labels and deciding what to buy or not to buy?

lcriswell0421 11-13-2012 10:34 AM

I have been doing some reading on nitrates/nitrites and then looked in my refrigerator. It's amazing how much food I have in there right now with sodium nitrites...kielbasa, hot dogs, lunch meat. Applegate Farms I know is a good alternative that I need to consider buying. Anyone have any other easy to find brands that are better replacements for these types of things?

cjohnson728 11-13-2012 12:21 PM

Thanks for starting the thread, Lisa. I meant to do so yesterday but my connection went out for a while and then I got distracted with other things.

I read labels for things like food dyes (the red 40 is the main offender and hard to avoid entirely), partially hydrogenated oils (trans fat), BHT (another one that's really, really hard to avoid), and any label that contains a ton of ingredients that are unrecognizable and unpronounceable.

I watch for soy because of the GMO and because of speculation that it might affect hormones, but soy-something seems to be in a lot of products, so I can only do so much without quitting my job, moving to the country, and growing all my own food. I also look for canola for the same GMO reason (I tend to look for things with safflower or sunflower oils). The same goes for corn. Hubby and son eat a lot of tortilla chips (and I won't lie and say I never do), so I try to stock up like crazy when the organic ones go on sale.

I look for artificial sweeteners and I also look for anything that has white flour ("enriched flour") as the first ingredient, and usually there is a better choice.

I don't have any ideas for you on your meats, sorry; someone else might. I think Mern and Hope watch those things pretty carefully and they may chime in.

I'm interested in everyone's thoughts...we all have our compromises and things that are important and there's always a lot to learn!

bojibridge 11-13-2012 03:03 PM

Hey Lisa! In regards to meats, I also try to avoid nitrates and nitrites, since word on the street is they're carcinogenic. I've switched to Hormel, which does not contain said chemicals - I'm a particular fan of the smoked turkey. It's 60 calories/3 slices, so I think it's a pretty good option.

I look at saturated fats, mostly because I really like my half and half in my coffee, and I'm picky about fat free (like, what is fat free half and half even? certainly not cream...) Anyway, because I tend to load up on sat fats there, I try to keep it down in other places.

Additionally, like Cassie said, I try to limit fake sugars, sort of. I'm have Type I diabetes, so it's a balancing act sometimes, trying to not get too much real sugar while limiting fake stuff. So, I allow myself a diet coke every now and then. However, when it comes to things like jelly, there's a really good low-sugar option (I think it's Smuckers?) So, instead of getting the sugar-free, which is made with aspartame (I think), I get the reduced sugar stuff, which is still pretty low calorie and carb for jelly, but still no fake stuff.

Overall, I'm generally of the opinion that the fewer ingredients in the list, the better. I'm not really hardcore about it, but if there are options, that's what I go for.

4.a.healthier.me 11-13-2012 05:53 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by lcriswell0421 (Post 91837)
I have been doing some reading on nitrates/nitrites and then looked in my refrigerator. It's amazing how much food I have in there right now with sodium nitrites...kielbasa, hot dogs, lunch meat. Applegate Farms I know is a good alternative that I need to consider buying. Anyone have any other easy to find brands that are better replacements for these types of things?

I also found that if I didn't eat a large amount of protien in the morning, I was ravinous all day, no matter how much or what I ate. I found that a large breakfast, medium lunch, and fairly light dinner helped a lot. Try for foods that are a good value for the calorie load, they tend to have more staying power than the more processed foods.

The things that I try to avoid are high frictose corn syrup, and anything that has some form of sugar in the first 4-5 ingredients. I also don't consume any "adult beverages" which can really pack in the calories if you don't watch it.

When I want to go meatless I usually aim for "Morning Star" or "Quarn" products. I try not to think about how much processing it takes to make these products, but sometimes you just have to give in to the guilty craving. The MS is soy baised, and the Quarn is actually mushroom based! It actually has a pretty good meat like texture.

cjohnson728 11-13-2012 10:21 PM

Good points, Angela. I did not know Quorn was mushroom based. Glad to know now, as I'm allergic to them!

If anyone's looking to kick a soda habit, check this out:

Naturally Flavored Water

lcriswell0421 11-14-2012 03:02 PM

I also buy Morning Star and Quorn products for my vegetarian daughter. I love Quorn products! They are the closest thing to the taste and texture of real meat that I have found.

I went out this morning and picked up a package of Hormel Natural Choice Honey Ham to try. It was on sale for $3 for an 8 oz package. $6 for a lb of meat is kind of expensive for me, but then when I think about it, when I buy meat from the deli I always end up throwing some of it away because it goes bad by the end of the week before we eat it all. This way at least I won't be having any waste. And, this is definitely better than the price of cancer, right? I tried a piece, and it was really good! It tastes like actual real ham! I think I'm hooked. Can't wait to try the turkey. Also, I'm going to look for it at WalMart to see if it's any better priced there.

Thanks for the tip on the Hormel Natural Choice! Loving it!

lcriswell0421 11-15-2012 12:00 AM

Aspartame
 
Ok, I've heard that aspartame is bad for you. What's bad about it? My dr. told me to drink diet soda rather than tons of water, which obviously has a lot of aspartame in it. I know...WHAT???? Telling me to drink diet soda in greater proportion to water?! There's a reason. I take a medication that, in addition to what I use it for, is also used for anorexia patients to MAKE them crave sugary carbs, therefore to make them gain weight. Not a good thing when I'm trying to lose a ton of weight. He said that by drinking falsely sweet diet soda (and things like Crystal Light won't do the trick he said) it will alleviate my urge to eat sugary carbs. And it works. That's what's important...it was recommended by my Dr. and right now it works for me. But what affects could the aspartame be having on me? Are there any diet sodas that anyone is aware of that doesn't use aspartame? I drink A LOT of it, and am wondering if I have any alternatives?

cjohnson728 11-15-2012 12:26 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by lcriswell0421 (Post 91915)
Ok, I've heard that aspartame is bad for you. What's bad about it? My dr. told me to drink diet soda rather than tons of water, which obviously has a lot of aspartame in it. I know...WHAT???? Telling me to drink diet soda in greater proportion to water?! There's a reason. I take a medication that, in addition to what I use it for, is also used for anorexia patients to MAKE them crave sugary carbs, therefore to make them gain weight. Not a good thing when I'm trying to lose a ton of weight. He said that by drinking falsely sweet diet soda (and things like Crystal Light won't do the trick he said) it will alleviate my urge to eat sugary carbs. And it works. That's what's important...it was recommended by my Dr. and right now it works for me. But what affects could the aspartame be having on me? Are there any diet sodas that anyone is aware of that doesn't use aspartame? I drink A LOT of it, and am wondering if I have any alternatives?

To use or not to use artificial sweeteners is a very personal decision. If you are interested, google "dangers of aspartame"...there is more info than I can summarize here.

I am not sure as to why diet soda and Crystal Light would be different...they both use the same sweeteners. And it has been shown in some studies that drinking artificially sweetened things triggers more of a response for additional sweet things because it primes the body for sugars, which the body doesn't get. I have had this experience but it sounds like you have had the opposite effect.

My grocery's store brand is sweetened with sucralose, so when I do have diet soda, that's what I use. Not sure about the natural brands, but it will say on their labels.

My preferred sugar sub is stevia, the newest one from the stevia plant. It's processed, not real sugar, but not created in a lab. It is new enough that I don't think any sodas have it yet.

But Lisa, the takeaway message is always this. If it works for you, do it; just research it and decide for yourself. If we all avoided everything that someone somewhere decided was bad for us, we wouldn't eat or drink anything at all.;) I know you've heard me say, choose the hill you're willing to die on. It's a very individual process and we all make our trade offs depending on our priorities.

4.a.healthier.me 11-16-2012 11:27 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by cjohnson728 (Post 91916)
My preferred sugar sub is stevia, the newest one from the stevia plant. It's processed, not real sugar, but not created in a lab. It is new enough that I don't think any sodas have it yet.

FYI There is a new soda out called "Zevia" or something close to that. I found it at Whole Foods a while back, and tried it. Unfortunatly I tried it at room temp and wasn't impressed, but it may be better cold :confused:. I like Stevia, but with the amount that is in the soda it tasted bitter to me.

As for Quarn products, they are great in texture, but because they are made from mushrooms they have an earthy flavor the some may not like. Although I'm not alergic to mushrooms, I don't eat them, so when I found out that the were the base for the product I understood why the flavor tasted a bit off to me. If you prepare it with a sauce or topping that masks that flavor, it is a great option for a meat free diet.


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