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SUMSUMS SparkPoints: (14,546)
Fitness Minutes: (10,312)
Posts: 1,453
4/12/14 1:03 P

The best way to be healthy is to eat foods that dont need a label! Fresh fruits, veggies, meats, ect.

RUSSELL_40 Posts: 16,826
4/12/14 12:04 P

Even though there are 56 ways to label sugar, they still get listed under carbohydrates as sugars, and the new labels will even separate ADDED sugars, so you can tell the difference between natural sugars, and added.

So even if you have no idea what the ingredients are, you can see that there is a lot of sugar.

Overall, I think labels aren't detailed enough. I think the food we are supposed to eat has been altered to make it unhealthy, and more detail on labels will allow us to see what they have done.

I "third" whole food, and any method you use to fit home cooking into your schedule. While this may be time consuming, it is important. The more steps happen to the food before you take over, the more chance the manufacturer altered the food, usually by adding salt, and sugar.

RENATARUNS SparkPoints: (4,367)
Fitness Minutes: (2,155)
Posts: 1,379
4/12/14 10:20 A

Another vote for batch-cooking for sure. It's especially nice when you can get someone to cook with you. :)

We'll generally take a few hours on Saturday or Sunday and make 2 or 3 different things in big pots. And then Sunday's dinner will often be something new (and made in a big batch) as well, so we could have up to four different things for the week. It's especially nice to have cooked food to bring to work for lunches, IMO, even if that does mean it all runs out a little faster.

BUNNYKICKS Posts: 2,433
4/12/14 9:41 A

"Its not the labels that have gotten out of control, its the food."

^^ This.

And I also totally hate the way things like "sugar" can be hidden on a label by disguising it with other names for it. "Barley Malt" and "Cane Juice Crystals" and "Fruit Juice Concentrate" and "Caramel" and "Molasses" and "Dextran" and "Carob Syrup".... most people these days know to look out for the dreaded "High Fructose Corn Syrup" and "Things ending in -ose" but the manufacturers then just use different names, some that even have an almost "health food" ring to them (i.e. cane juice/fruit juice). When in fact, all you're getting is a compendium of SUGAR bound together into a food-shaped item.

EXOTEC Posts: 3,327
4/12/14 8:55 A

I agree with all the previous posters. Real food is preferable in every case.
Labels are regulated by agencies whose primary objectives are support of agriculture and commerce. They have little to do with "health" or nutrition as WE would define it.

One thing *I* wish they'd address is all the erroneous and devious descriptives for ingredients. There's simply no excuse to be allowed to use half a dozen names for sugar/s. The healthcare industry has modified their "patient inserts" from the technical jargon normally found in the package inserts so that users can understand their products. I think the same approach should be applied to foods. Of course, that's not likely to happen: the food producers and manufacturers would raise a noise and lobby effort that we'd never overcome. That doesn't keep it from being the right thing, nevertheless.

So far as cooking from scratch -- it really isn't as difficult and time-consuming as most people (who don't do it!) think. We buy whole foods in bulk and then spend one day cooking several entrees. Then we portion it out into easily-reheated batches and freeze or refrigerate them. Last weekend we made a ham, lasagne, and chili. In the interim, we'll occasionally pick up some simple "fast-food" (like a rotisserie chicken from the grocery) to fill in. Meanwhile, we've got lots of other stuff to pull out and toss in the microwave. And if we don't agree on what we're hungry for, we have alternatives. I like to do roasts and casseroles this way, too. The only "fresh cooked" items we usually do are veggies, and those are just too simple to cook ahead, unless it's a special recipe. It may *sound* like a lot of bother to cook for a day -- but add up that time, and compare it with cooking single meals every day. I think you'll find you actually SAVE time, and I know it saves money, to batch-cook this way.

Processed foods are just substandard in SO many ways. The farther you can distance yourself from them, the better off you'll be. We're meant to eat real food. This latest craze of food-like products is just wrong. The folks making money on them aren't going to relent... but we can certainly take back control of our health on our own.

LARISSA_NY Posts: 200
4/12/14 8:25 A

It all comes down to your priorities. The only thing I hate more than cooking is eating pre-packaged, heavily processed crap. Take a good look at the frozen dinner section sometime. That stuff's not even food, it's food-shaped product.

4/11/14 8:40 P

Yes, if you get away from processed, packaged foods, you have to worry a lot less about food labels. Cooking can be enjoyable and creative, and you control what's in your diet. I work full time, but on Sundays I chop veggies, make a pot of lentil soup or something like that for lunches, boil and peel some eggs for hard-boiled eggs, and mentally plan out basically what's on the menu for the week. I also do as Miss Ruth describes and cook in big batches. Ultimately, cooking your own food tastes better and is more satisfying than packaged foods.

MICHELLEXXXX SparkPoints: (12,049)
Fitness Minutes: (5,920)
Posts: 3,733
4/10/14 9:15 A

Some things I find helpful when balancing time constraints with good nutrition:

frozen veggies (can be steamed in 5 minutes)
prewashed veggies
chopping veggies on Sunday and storing in ziplocks
frozen preportioned chicken and fish filets
canned tuna and salmon

Edited by: MICHELLEXXXX at: 4/10/2014 (09:27)
MISSRUTH Posts: 4,223
4/10/14 8:08 A

well.... I reckon there are lots of people who cook from scratch and hold down full-time jobs. Admittedly, it takes a little getting used to-- but every time you fire up that stove or oven or grill, cook twice as much or even 4 times as much as you need for a meal. And then you've got leftovers for a quick heat-and-eat meal on a busy weeknight. Dig out that crockpot. I used to have a smaller crockpot (kids are grown & gone, and it's only DH and me now). I got rid of the smaller one and got me a large size.

The way I look at it, if I'm cooking anyway it doesn't take hardly any more effort to cook a bucketful instead of just enough for one meal. If I'm cooking brown rice.... it doesn't take any longer to cook up 4 or 6 cups, instead of just 2 cups. And then I refrigerate the leftovers so I can zap some in the microwave later in the week.

The easiest way to find low salt, low sugar, low fat.... is to start with ingredients and cook it yourself, so that you're totally in control of what goes into it. I routinely leave out whatever sugar or salt is called for, in a recipe. Or use half the oil, or just a spritz.

I don't think food labels have gotten out of control.... but I DO think it takes a little education and some experience with reading them, to be able to quickly pick out the things to watch for. I'd agree that some changes and updates to the labels would make them more user-friendly. But if you start with ingredients (real food) rather than boxes and jars and frozen meals... there's not much if anything to look at, on the label.

4/9/14 7:25 P

The "Contains: Peanuts" label is required by law for foods containing peanuts (even if it is obvious like peanuts). It is essential for people with serious allergies that foods with the potential to cause a reaction be properly labeled.

4/9/14 2:17 P

Sometimes the labels are humorous. buying hardboiled eggs? The able reads :contains eggs. Buying peanuts? The label reads "Contains peanuts."

I've started just looking at the ingredients instead of worrying about anything else. The label that looks like I could make it at home is the product I buy. For example:
One flavor of ragu:

the Light Ragu:
Tomato Puree (Water, Tomato Paste), Diced Tomatoes in Puree, Onions, Sugar, Salt, Garlic Powder, Spices, Basil, Natural Flavor.

The light ragu is closer to what I'd find in my kitchen so I would grab that before the traditional ragu. For me this is much easier than reading the label for anything else.

4/9/14 1:37 P

Information is power. Can you just imagine if packaged foods didn't have labels? We would have no clue what was in our food! The food manufacturers would make food out of the most cost effective ingredients possible which I can guarantee you are not going to be very good for you.

I think eating healthy is about setting priorities. People make the time to work out for an hour a day but if they took that hour and spent it cooking healthy food they wouldn't need to workout so much. Make healthy eating a big priority in your life. You only get one body.

Above all JERF - Just Eat Real Food

MONTANAROWAN SparkPoints: (6,180)
Fitness Minutes: (6,805)
Posts: 58
4/9/14 12:33 P

I totally agree with Rentaruns! Just keep your foods simple and unprocessed! Fresh fruits and veggies. Fresh meats, eggs, simple whole grain breads. Sweet potatoes. I'm all about simple and fast cooking. Not much faster than a marinated pork loin chop, steamed veggies and a microwaved sweet potato! Voila! Low fat, low sugar and fast

GIPPER1961 Posts: 750
4/9/14 12:32 P

Food labels come from regulations (government regulations). manufacturers will always attempt to downplay ingredients that are considered bad currently. They will use alternate ingredients that aren't well known that do the same thing (56 names for sugar for example).

Labels are helpful, but we do have to keep educating ourselves on what different things are known by. The manufacturers are trying to sell food and we know from experience that there are enough people around that buy things because they like it and not because it is healthful and they don't really care about the ingredients.

As for why you can't find foods that are low in sodium fat and sugar, that is the primary way flavor comes into processed food. Take those three things out you don't have flavor.

Being knowledgeable about what ingredients are and of course eating real food when possible is the only way around it.

RENATARUNS SparkPoints: (4,367)
Fitness Minutes: (2,155)
Posts: 1,379
4/9/14 11:42 A

Its not the labels that have gotten out of control, its the food. It will continue as long as people keep tolerating it.

I think the answer in general (may not apply exactly to your specific needs) is to make MUCH from scratch, and then choose the rest carefully. The less processed food you require, the easier the task becomes, because you're not having to label read everything you eat, and for the rest you can find and stick to a few acceptable options. In general, learn the names of added sugars and steer away from foods that contain them unless the total sugar value is acceptably low. Look to avoid the various terms for processed flours and their additives. Stick where possible to ingredient lists that are short or at least largely recognizable as food.

Overall you will get better quality food by doing that, that produces fewer challenges to health.

You likely will not find what you are looking for in the low-fat, low-sugar worlds very often. As you find out, when one thing is removed another is put in. They can be more reliably controlled by careful choice of what you eat and by portion control where necessary. When it comes to salt even that may not be enough and cooking from scratch a great deal becomes even more important.

People here have lots of great tips on other threads to make that easier and maybe you'll get some here too.

4/9/14 11:14 A

I thought this was a great article: Food Labels Have Gotten Out Of Control, And Now We Hate Shopping. There is nothing so defeating as buying and consuming something you thought was helping you get fit and healthy and then realizing it's packed with sugar or a horrible chemical.

What are you're favorite clean but store-bought go-to items that help keep your weight down?

I also have a similar problem buying groceries for my mom who has diabetes and chronic heart disease. Finding products that are low sodium, low sugar, AND low fat is almost impossible.

I think the only way around this is to make your own food from scratch but who has time to do this every day and hold down a full time job?

Any tips are much appreciated!

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