A few summers ago, I came back from the beach from an amazing weekend away. Being the only one who was driving home (the rest were flying) I scored an onslaught of groceries. I smiled knowing that my kids and hubby would be overjoyed with the fact that among them was a bag of potato chips and Life Cereal which are pretty much never seen at our house. (Being the kid of a health coach is rough ). I knew the cereal was probably loaded with sugar and probably a few other questionable ingredients but I am perfectly fine with my kids having a treat from time to time.
The next morning my entire family had smiles on their faces eating the cereal and I even tried a few handfuls myself. I went in for just one but it was delicious so I took a few more. About an hour later I felt kind of gross and my husband mentioned he did too. “I wonder what is even in this?” he said. So he turned over the box and we found out just what was making us feel so groggy. The ingredients of a box of Life cereal are as follows
INGREDIENTS: Life Cereal (Whole Grain Oat Flour, Sugar, Corn Flour, Whole Wheat Flour, Rice Flour, Salt, Calcium Carbonate, Disodium Phosphate, Reduced Iron, Niacinamide*, Zinc Oxide, BHT (A Preservative), Yellow 5, Yellow 6, Thiamin Mononitrate*, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride*, Riboflavin*, Folic Acid*.)
Read the Labels
I was shocked. While I had guessed the cereal had a little too much sugar I would not have imagined it also contained all the artificial colors and additives highlighted above. This served as a reminder as to why I always look at the ingredients before I buy any food for myself or my children. Most people think that reading a grocery item label consists of reading the nutrition label and stopping there. However, the actual ingredients in the food you eat are more important than the calories/fat listed on the label. Now that consumers are more health conscious of the food they are eating and looking at nutrition labels, food companies are striving to make food lower in calories and sugar but are doing so by filling foods with loads of artificial sweeteners, dyes, preservatives, and fillers which are extremely detrimental to your health. Research has linked many of these artificial ingredients to cancer, allergies, hyperactivity, and learning impairment. In fact, many European companies have banned common artificial ingredients found in the processed food we eat in the US due to the overwhelming research that shows them to be harmful.
While it can be a daunting task to read all the ingredients in every food product you buy on your next grocery trip, start by reading a couple of them on the staples you buy most and look for healthier options on foods that don’t make the cut.
The Food Label Game