Healthy eating tip #1: Be label smart
Healthy eating must be one of the top New Year’s resolutions, but it can be difficult. How do you define “healthy”?
That vague word makes it easy for marketers to sell their products, whether they are truly healthy or not.
Lucky for us, the consumer website Peel Back the Label wants to inform consumers about these marketing tricks.
They explain frequently-used terms like non-GMO, gluten-free, all natural, light, hormone free, and no added sugar.
Our mission at Peel Back the Label is to highlight the food companies using misleading labels to make their brands seem superior to the competition. In reality, these claims almost always apply to all similar products in the store. These companies prey on consumer misinformation about what is really in our food. In order to combat this misinformation, we’ve researched some of the most commonly misused labels and clarified them for you here.
The website also shares some particularly misleading products and their labels.
Great information for the savvy food shopper!
Healthy eating tip #2: Ignore news and social media
News and social media love to create controversy and confusion about nutrition.
Over the last year, for example, I’ve read articles that drinking alcohol in moderation helps you live longer. No, wait—even one drink a day will kill you sooner.
Saturated fats, like those in butter and whole milk, are bad…or are they good?
What about coffee? Or potatoes? Or bananas? Or smoothies?
The list of foods that researchers claim to be good for you (healthy) and bad for you (unhealthy) at the same time is just about endless. I don’t see this trend changing—these headlines make great clickbait.
I’ve posted several times about the problems with nutritional research studies. There are just too many variables to make them useful. And the relationship between foods, our individual lifestyles, and our unique genetics is complex and nearly impossible to quantify.
For more information about how decades of flip-flopping nutritional advice has affected us, read Michael Pollan’s great book, In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto.
Healthy eating tip #3: Relax and trust your common sense
I like Michael Pollan’s healthy eating advice: Eat food, mostly plants, not too much.
I don’t follow any diet trends. I think everything is fine—in moderation. More often than not (the best goal) I eat a balanced diet with fresh vegetables, whole grains, lean meats, and whole milk and yogurt. My husband likes to ferment, so we also have plenty of sauerkraut and kefir.
My biggest challenge is portion size. I constantly remind myself to start with a smaller serving and go back for seconds if I’m still hungry. Too often I pile food on my plate and then eat it even though I’m no longer hungry.
A nutritionist on the website Food Insight uses the term “intuitive eating.” What is intuitive eating?
It’s about eating foods you enjoy (yes, really!), listening to your hunger and fullness cues, and not labeling foods as good or bad. And yes, intuitive eaters do consider the healthfulness of the foods they eat — it’s just not the only thing they consider.
Food Insight is a consumer information website that hopes to reduce our confusion about conflicting nutritional advice.
Dirt to Dinner is another nutrition website I enjoy following.
Check out these resources. Or, you know, just relax and use your common sense when it comes to shopping and preparing meals.
You got this.