This is organic marinara sauce.

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Note that every single ingredient is familiar and organic! Organic foods aren't just pesticide and fertilizer free and non-gmo, they are actually more nutritious. Want to learn more about that? Read Organic Costs More. Does it matter?

This is a chocolate sandwich cookie.

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When reading ingredient labels, pay attention to punctuation. Parentheses indicate that they are telling you the ingredients in an ingredient or telling you what an ingredient is. For example, Unbleached Enriched Flour contains:
Wheat flour
Reduced iron
Thiamine (which is Vitamin B1)
Riboflavin (which is Vitamin B2)
Folic Acid

There isn't really anything here I don't recognize, but something else important about ingredients lists is that they are listed in order of how much is used. This means that for this cookie, the top three ingredients are flour and sugar and palm oil. Flour isn't a horrible thing, but it is used poorly most of the time. "Enriched" flour has been stripped of its nutrients and then enriched by having some nutrients back in.

Continuing down the list, the fourth ingredient is more oil, followed by cocoa and then more sugar in the form of High Fructose Corn Syrup. This "food" is mostly flour, sugar, and oil!

Another way to tell that this is a poor choice is by looking at the nutrition label, which tells me that there's a lot more fat and sugar than nutrition, so this is in my "occasional treat" list.

If you want to learn more about reading labels, that's coming soon!

Easy one! This is whole grain rolled oats.

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Here's an example of a food that only has an ingredients list because it's required by law for packaged food. The name of the food is the same as the ingredients list. No surprises. It's also no surprise that this is a nutritious choice. Just check the nutrition label if you don't believe me. Carbs are not bad. Carbs are necessary. Want to know the truth about carbohydrates? That's coming soon!

This is chocolate pudding mix.

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What is pudding, really? It doesn't grow anywhere. It's not food. Yes, we have eaten it for years, but it is not a good choice. Yes, it's mixed with milk, which has some nutrition, and can even be made with plant milk to avoid the fat and cholesterol of animal milk. This package is "sugar free" which sounds like a positive thing until you stop and think about the fact that instead of sugar, lab-created sweetener is used instead. Is that better? No.

This is whole grain sliced bread.

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Most of these ingredients are recognizable with the except of a few. It's actually not that easy to find a healthy packaged bread. Here's what to look for:

  • 100% "Whole Grain" or "Whole Wheat" - sometimes bread will have some whole grains, but is still mostly white flour
  • 1 g of fiber for every 5 grams of carbohydrates (Take the number of carbs and divide it by 5 to get the minimum fiber needed)