Becoming more aware of the foods we eat is always a good idea, because a healthy balanced diet will help fuel a healthy and balanced life! Yet sometimes this means looking past what is advertised in bold writing and having a real look at the ingredients in some of the products we purchase.
I see so many packaged foods that advertise as being ‘healthy’, ‘nutritious’ or ‘light choices’ that are packed full or preservatives, sugars and other highly processed ingredients. It is quite concerning that they get away with advocating themselves as being healthy options. I mean, you only have to consider those sugar packed cereals that advertise as having 5 vitamins and iron, as though they are the most nutritious breakfast choice.
Sure, some of these products might be lower in fat or some lower in sugar, or lower in carbs, than other similar products, however at what cost? Usually the fat, sugar or carbs are replaced by some other chemically enhanced ‘ingredient’.
Personally I always try opting for foods that are close to their natural state, I love cooking, so I love working with fresh foods! However sometimes cooking from scratch isn’t always an option. So if you are going to purchase pre-packaged meals then there are a few things you should check when making your selection:
- Check the nutrition content - As a rule it is a good idea to opt for foods that are low in sodium as most of us need to cut down on our sodium intake. When it comes to meals, try opting for something rich in fibre. Check for sugar levels.
- Avoid the nasties - Check for artificial sweeteners, colours or flavourings (often represented by a 3 digit number), or high fructose corn syrup, as well as forms of MSG (such as yeast extract) and soy protein isolates.
- Check the expiry date - Unless it is a frozen product or tinned, then I am always a little dubious of items that claim to have a really long shelf life. This screams excess preservatives and is something I avoid.
- Opt for frozen over tined/jars - As a general rule frozen foods are a healthier option because it is prepared and frozen fresh.