Tips To Read Food Label

One of the most important things you can do for your own nutrition is to know what you’re eating. In recent years, food labels have become much more user friendly and you really can know exactly what you’re putting in your body.

Your relationship with food is very important. What you eat can help to give you energy, improve your immunity, and allow you to combat many diseases. But it can also do the opposite – leave you feeling weak and even cause disease.

But if you’ve never given your food much thought, reading food labels can be intimidating. There’s a lot of information there. Deciding which information is important and which isn’t can be challenging. Once you know the basics, though, you’ll read those labels with confidence.

Be Smart about Serving Size

Begin with looking at the serving size on the label. Sometimes people miss this part of the label and then have an inaccurate idea of what’s actually in the food. For example, if you have a can of soup and the label says it’s 2 servings, that means that the information on the label would be doubled if you ate the whole can.

Labels have gotten better in the recent past. For example, a can of soda used to be 1.5 or 2 servings. But now when you look at the label, one can of soda is a whole serving because most people will drink the entire thing. A 20 oz bottle, though, is more than 2 servings.

Calorie Breakdown

Once you know the serving size, you’re ready to move on to looking at the quality of the food you’re eating. The most obvious information you can get from your food label is about the breakdown of calories.

The label will tell you how many calories are in each serving. Calories are the measurement for how much energy it takes down to break down the food. The higher the calories, the longer it will take to break it down.

Your metabolism is the measure of how much energy you burn over a period of time. While we often think of exercising as burning calories, the effect of exercise is small compared to the total calories you burn.

When your heart beats, you breathe in and out, your body breaks down nutrients and makes new blood cells you’re burning calories. That’s why you need an average of around 2,000 calories in a day.

There are three basic biomolecules that your food can give you: proteins, carbohydrates, and fats. Food labels tell you exactly how much of each you’re getting in a serving of food. The label also tells you how many grams of that food you need in a typical diet.

Depending on the label, the following are the major categories you’ll find:

*· Total calories per serving

*· Grams of carbohydrates

*· Grams of fat

*· Milligrams of sodium

*· Grams of protein

*· Vitamins and minerals, if any

Within those major categories are some subdivisions to help you understand even more about what you’re eating. Let’s take a look at those subdivisions and what they mean for you when it comes to your diet.

Not All Carbohydrates are Created Equal

When it comes to carbohydrates, some are better for you than others. Let’s be clear – you need carbohydrates to have energy and to be healthy. Any diet that tells you to eliminate them completely is unhealthy.

A food label will break down carbohydrates into two categories – fiber and sugars. You need both. However, many people don’t have enough fiber in their diets. You want to look for foods that are high in this nutrient.

Fiber helps you to lower your cholesterol and helps your digestive system to be more regular. You’ll find more fiber in foods that contain whole grains such as wheat and oats. This is the healthier type of carbohydrate.

The other category of sugars is what you need to watch if you’re concerned about diabetes. Depending on your situation with blood sugar, you’ll want to limit how many grams of sugar you get in your diet.

When it comes to calories, every gram of carbohydrates contains 4 calories. So if you want to know how many calories in the food come from carbohydrates you can multiply your carbohydrate grams by four. Then you can look at the total calories in the serving to determine the percentage of calories that come from them.

The Purpose of Protein

Your body must have protein to build structures. Most of the structures inside you consist of protein and in order to have the building blocks to repair cells and develop muscles, you’ll need to eat food that has this important molecule.

A food label will tell you the number of grams of protein in your food. You’ll want to look for foods that are high in protein. Foods that have a lot of protein include nuts, meats, whole grain foods, and dairy products.

The Facts About Fats

Food labels will also give you information about fats. In the past, health practitioners told patients to avoid fat altogether. But it turns out that modern science doesn’t support that type of diet. You actually need fats just like you need other molecules in your food.

The two major categories of fats are unsaturated and saturated. Unsaturated fats come from plant sources. At room temperature unsaturated fats stay liquid. These are considered healthy fats. You need them to help keep your skin and other organs healthy.

Unsaturated fats also help lower “bad” cholesterol and raise “good” cholesterol in your blood. This helps to protect your heart and prevent problems such as heart disease and stroke. They also help your digestive system to run smoothly.

Saturated fats come from animal fats. These are solid at room temperature and are considered unhealthy fats. They contribute to high cholesterol, clogged arteries and can ultimately lead to heart disease, stroke, and other disorders.

Speaking of cholesterol, you can also find the amount of cholesterol in a serving of food on the label. Cholesterol amounts become important when you’re trying to eat a heart healthy diet. If you’re trying to lower cholesterol, you’ll want to pay attention to this part of the label.

Trans fats are a category of fats that come from altering the chemical structure of an unsaturated fat. They are also called hydrogenated fats because the process of taking a liquid unsaturated fat to a solid trans fat involves adding hydrogen atoms to the molecules.

For many years it was thought that trans fats were as healthy as unsaturated fats, but that has been disproved. In fact, trans fats are actually more harmful than saturated fats. Because of the bad press trans fats many food manufacturers are removing it from their products.

The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) now requires that trans fats are listed on food labels. It’s a good idea to avoid any food that has trans fats in it. These fats have no nutritional value and are in fact harmful for you.

Sodium Safety

Another nutrient that food labels provide information about is sodium. Sodium is the fancy, scientific term for salt. If you have normal blood pressure you probably don’t pay too much attention to salt. But if you’re suffering from high blood pressure, you can’t ignore it.

Sodium causes your body to hold onto water and in turn raises your blood pressure. High blood pressure is a leading risk factor for heart disease and stroke. So if you have this issue, you need to check the labels. Speak with your doctor about what healthy amount of sodium is for you.

Then you’ll want to look for labels that have low amounts of sodium or are even free from it. Some foods are labeled as “low sodium” but you still need to look at the label and see where it fits in with your needs.

Eating Vitamins and Minerals

While most people could use a multivitamin each day, the best way to get your vitamins and minerals is through the food you eat. In food, you find these vitamins and minerals in a natural state that’s easy for your body to absorb.

Food labels will give you an idea of what nutrients can be found in a specific food. Look for foods that are high in vitamins and minerals such as calcium, vitamin C, vitamin A, potassium, and beta-carotene.

Making Time for Reading Food Labels

When you’re new at reading food labels, it can see overwhelming. But the more you do it, the easier it becomes. You’ll also have your “go-to” foods that you can just pick up without revisiting the label every time.

Plan to spend some extra time at the grocery store when you’re paying more attention to food labels. Pay attention to what nutrients you’re looking to limit and what you need to add to your diet. Before you shop, make a list of what you need to get.

Then, as you’re shopping make a list of additional foods that you’d like to incorporate into your diet. You may also want to make a list of foods you’d like to avoid. Perhaps something you’ve always loved has way more cholesterol than you can afford. Spend some time looking for a substitute that’s on the healthier side.

Understanding Ingredients

The other list you’ll find on a nutrition label – or near it – is a list of ingredients. Ingredients on products are listed in order from greatest amount to least amount in the food. This list of ingredients can be very helpful for determining if a food is something you want to eat or not.

Some ingredients you might want to avoid include:

*· Corn syrup (highly processed sugar)

*· Hydrogenated oils

*· Monosodium glutamate (MSG)

*· Artificial coloring

*· Artificial sweeteners (sucralose, aspartame, saccharin)

Ingredients that are not natural and come from chemical processing are generally not good for your body. A rule of thumb to follow is that if you can’t pronounce the ingredient, you probably shouldn’t eat it.

Once you start reading food labels, you’ll be surprised to find out how many additives are in processed foods. While some foods with labels are healthy for you, there are a lot of foods that come in cans, boxes, and bags contain harmful ingredients.

Foods Without Labels

When it comes to nutrition, the best thing you can do is look for foods that don’t require labels. These are foods such as fruits, vegetables, and meats. The less processed your food is, the healthier it will be.

Other foods have labels, but are also close to their natural state. This includes food such as:

*· Milk

*· Yogurt

*· Whole grain bread

*· Whole grain cereals

*· Natural peanut butter

*· Natural cheese

Food Craving and Emotional Eating

Why Do We Have Food Cravings?

One important factor which may influence appetite control is the notion of food cravings. This overwhelming urge to consume a particular food appears strong in overweight dieters, and many theories has posited why this is so. The nutritional and homeostatic role of food cravings is described by physiological theories and explains why cravings might be more present in people who are deprived of food. The psychoactive abilities of certain foods to trigger cravings are likened to a self-medication behaviour and thought to relieve a central serotonin deficits. Psychological theories stress the role of negatives emotions (e.g. anger) as triggers for cravings and learning theories claim that cravings are a positive learnt response to cues (sensory, situational) and giving into a craving results in a pleasurable consequence. What is evident here is that food cravings are a multi-dimensional and complex occurrence, one which possibly involves aspects of all of the proposed theories.

Whatever the reason, it is suggested that food cravings frequently lead to consumption of the craved food and elevated Body Mass Index is associated with food intake and preference for high fat foods. Even in non-clinical samples, food craving has been found to be related to body weight, suggesting the significant role of craving in food consumption. Early identification of elevated body mass indexes (BMI), medical risks, and unhealthy eating and physical activity habits may be essential to the future prevention of obesity. One crucial question is the role food cravings may play in maintaining excessive eating patterns observed in other problems with eating behaviours: binge eating, bulimia, and obesity.

Food Cravings and Weight Gain: The Missing Link

There is thorough and outstanding evidence regarding the increase in worldwide rates of obesity and the projected outcomes if this is not addressed. Children in particular are noted as being especially at risk of future long term health problems. While dietary restraint, more nutritious eating habits and physical exercise have always been purported to be the answer to the obesity crisis in adults, adolescents and children, long term meta analysis and follow-up studies indicate that weight loss is not maintained (and indeed the more time that elapses between the end of a diet and the follow-up, the more weight is regained). Unfortunately, several other studies indicate that dieting is actually a consistent predictor of future weight gain.

A recent study conducted by Patricia Goodspeed Grant (2008) involved investigating the psychological, cultural and social contributions to overeating in obese people. She found that eating for comfort for the morbidly obese is rooted in using food to manage experiences of emotional pain and difficult family and social relationships. Her participants reported that what had been missing from all treatment programs they had tried was the “opportunity to work on the psychological issues concurrently with weight loss”.

It appears that a missing link in the treatment of overweight and obesity is this concept and issue of addressing the psychological contributors or emotional drivers that are leading people to overeat. Relying on willpower and education is clearly not enough.

Motivation Issues

Humans are only motivated by feelings (i.e. sensations). There are basically three types of feelings; pleasant, neutral and unpleasant. The motivation we get from the unpleasant feeling is to move towards a feeling we do not have, but do want. We move away from the unpleasant feeling by replacing it with a different pleasant (or neutral) feeling.

Hunger, is an unpleasant sensation (for most people) and is relieved by the pleasant sensation (for most people) of eating and the taste of food. Like other basic functions, this is so that we can survive, individually and as a species. Most of us prefer pleasant sensations over unpleasant sensations. But pleasant sensations are not always matched with the outcome that they were designed for. Many people eat, not because they need nutrition, but because they feel an unpleasant emotion, like rejection, loneliness, distress, depression, fear, betrayal, worthlessness, defeat, helplessness or hopelessness. This emotional over-consumption of food often leads to fat-gain and other health problems. This can then create a vicious cycle of more emotional eating to manage the emotional consequences of becoming overweight and unhealthy.

For children, excessive eating and binging are often a consequence of boredom and habit behaviours. Food or drinks are used to relieve the monotony. They can also be used as a coping strategy to deal with problems arising from anxiety, depression, stress and conflicts. Although they may feel comforted after consuming an amount of food, the person has not dealt with the underlying cause of these problems. This sets up a reward cycle of using food to get a better feeling. Consequently, there is no reason why they will not reoccur in the future. This can become a vicious cycle.

If a parent deals with their own emotional issues by eating and or over eating it is highly probable that the child will also do so. This pattern for coping is being modelled. Parents often find it difficult to tolerate their child’s disappointment or pain and are motivated to take this away. If food is used regularly as a means of doing this, for example, “Never mind not getting invited let’s go get a chocolate sundae,” a parent can be setting up a cycle of soothing uncomfortable feelings with the pleasure of food. This again can set up a pattern of eating to manage feelings. This is particularly a problem when there is no real discussion of the child’s pain or disappointment and instead food is just offered.

Have a think right now: why is it that you want to stop emotionally eating? You might immediately know, or you might have to think for some time. Finish this sentence out loud:

When I stop eating in response to my emotions, I will…

Your answer/s will give you some insight into how you are motivated.

If you are motivated towards pleasurable outcomes, you might have said things like:
• When I stop eating in response to my emotions I will be able to buy clothes ‘off the rack’ in the shops
• When I stop eating in response to my emotions I will be happy

If you are motivated away from negative outcomes your answers may reflect:
• When I stop eating in response to my emotions I will not be uncomfortable in my clothes anymore
• When I stop eating in response to my emotions I will be able to throw away my ‘fat’ clothes

You have probably noticed the patterns here. Moving towards pleasurable outcomes or away from a negative one, affects how we think, feel and behave. You might find that you have a combination of moving towards some outcomes and away from others. This is fine too. More often than not, we are primarily subconsciously motivated in one direction.

Motivation has also been shown to exist either as an internal characteristic or as an external factor in people in general. Internal motivation is linked to neurological circuitry in the left prefrontal lobe; the feelings of accomplishment, passion for work, excitement in our day all link to the left prefrontal cortex. It is this area of the brain, which governs motivating behaviour. It discourages pessimistic feelings and encourages action. The reality is that some people naturally possess a high level of this internal motivation; those who focus on the internal feelings of satisfaction they will attain despite any difficulties they face along the way. However others require more than this.

External motivation is any external influence or stimuli to generate positive behaviour. These might include monetary rewards such as bonuses, tangible recognition or honour, prizes, or other incentives. The reality is, despite such rewards motivating behaviour in the short term, it has been shown that no amount of bonuses or acknowledgment will inspire people to use their fullest potential to keep moving towards their goals. So what does it take?

You might have already noticed with exercise that no matter how many personal trainers you hire, how many motivational exercise tapes you purchase or classes you attend, eventually you lose interest and go back to your old behaviour. This is because all of those things are forms of external motivation. There is nothing wrong with them – some people thrive on external motivation and do very well with it. However, sometimes your behaviour does drop off when you cease getting the drive from an external source. Let’s face it, if you had a personal trainer at your door every single day for the rest of your life and a personal chef in the kitchen preparing nutritious balanced meals forever, then yes, you would be motivated to lose weight and become fitter. Such full time assistance is not a reality for most of us.

Sometimes people FIND the internal source of motivation they need to lose weight from an external source and this can help them get started. Here’s Mercedes’ story.

Mercedes had tried to lose weight for years. She was a clerk in the local library and thoroughly enjoyed her work and her food. She noticed over years of living a fairly sedentary lifestyle, with little exercise and a whole lot of reading in her spare time that the pounds had crept on. She was an accomplished cook and took pleasure in preparing meals for herself out of gourmet magazines from the library. She wasn’t really worried about her weight but it was always in the back of her mind that she should do something about it. It wasn’t until she noticed a regular visitor to the library every evening that she paid attention.

Jon was studying for his final exams in accountancy and because he still lived at home with his rowdy younger brothers and sisters, he began taking to the library every evening for the peace and quiet. He found Mercedes to be very knowledgeable and helpful with finding him necessary reference programs and they struck up a friendly rapport. Mercedes noticed that she started to look forward to her time every evening chatting to Jon and after the first compliment he made about her hair, she proceeded to take more time with her appearance. Jon was really the first man who had ever noticed her as a woman. Unbeknown to him, Mercedes began watching her meals and even started parking her car further from work to get some exercise each day, in the hope of slimming down.

Mercedes and Jon remained good friends and while nothing particularly romantic ever happened between them, Mercedes felt inspired to continue her grooming routine and eventually met her future husband while power walking on the weekend. He had lived two doors from her for years and they had never noticed each other!

Are you motivated toward a reward? Or away from a painful outcome?

Your subconscious mind is actually equipped to lead you towards something you want, rather than away from something you don’t want.

The same happens when we need to achieve a goal such as weight loss – we need to look where we are going. When focusing on losing weight most people are focused on wanting to move away from what they don’t want, or the negative situation. Rather than focus on wanting to loose weight to move away from your current position, focus on the positives of becoming slim, healthy or fitter. This is moving towards the positive rather than moving away from the negative.

Here is a simple exercise which will prove to you your subconscious is on the alert 24 hours a day: on the way home today, choose a make, model and colour of vehicle- anything will do. Start to think about it consciously. And then start to look around and see how many you can count on the way home. Really look hard – you will find them everywhere! How was it that on the way to work you didn’t notice any? You were not tuned in, that’s all.

What’s Driving Your Eating?

Many people suffer from food cravings at times when they are having a strong feeling. Others report a history of feeling criticized and judged by important others for their choices or the way they look, eat or feel. Feelings of shame and guilt about eating behaviours, looks or perceived lack of control are also common for people. Others report anger and annoyance that to be the shape they want, they have to eat differently to others and feel deprived (victimized/ not normal). Many are afraid to change their shape because this has helped them hide or protected them from hurt or intimacy. Many have tried changing their body shape so many times they do not believe they can succeed, or feel undeserving of success because they have a deeper sense of unworthiness.

Emotional Eating

Emotional eating is the practice of consuming quantities of food — usually “comfort” or junk foods — in response to feelings instead of hunger. Experts estimate that 75% of overeating is caused by emotions. Many of us learn that food can bring comfort, at least in the short-term. As a result, we often turn to food to heal emotional problems or take away discomfort. Eating to self soothe becomes a habit preventing us from learning skills that can effectively resolve our emotional distress.

Depression, boredom, loneliness, chronic anger, anxiety, frustration, stress, problems with interpersonal relationships and poor self-esteem can result in overeating and unwanted weight gain. There are 2 types of emotional eating in which people engage:

1. Deprivation-sensitive binge eating: appears to be the result of weight loss diets or periods of restrictive eating (yoyo dieters)
2. Addictive or dissociative binge eating: process of self-medicating or self-soothing with food unrelated to prior restricting (have you ever eaten a whole packet of something, before you realised it was gone?)

By identifying what triggers our emotional eating, we can substitute more appropriate techniques to manage our emotional problems and take food and weight gain out of the equation. Situations and emotions that trigger us to eat fall into five main categories:

1. Social. Eating when around other people. For example, excessive eating can result from being encouraged by others to eat; eating to fit in; arguing; or feelings of inadequacy around other people.
2. Emotional. Eating in response to boredom, stress, fatigue, tension, depression, anger, anxiety, loneliness as a way to “fill the void” or in response to feelings arising from memories of past negative experiences.
3. Situational. Eating because the opportunity is there. For example, at a restaurant, seeing an advertisement for a particular food, passing by a bakery. Eating may also be associated with certain activities such as watching TV, going to the movies or a sporting event.
4. Thoughts. Eating as a result of negative self-worth or making excuses for eating. For example, scolding oneself for looks or a lack of will power.
5. Physiological. Eating in response to physical cues. For example, increased hunger due to skipping meals or eating to cure headaches or other pain.

Some useful questions to ask yourself that might help you find some of your beliefs or issues include:
• Do you remember any times you were ashamed about your body or had others say things about you that you felt ashamed of yourself?
• When was the last time you were at your goal weight/shape? What was happening at that time?
• What are your attitudes about overweight people? What were the attitudes of important others about overweight people?
• What patterns exist in your family about food? Was it used to show love or as a punishment?
• What statements do you say to yourself that are self defeating, hurtful and holding you back from getting what you want. Some examples include:
– It’s in my genes,
– I’ve never been slim so I can’t be
– I’ll always be fat
– I’m the fat funny one
– If I let anyone get close to me they will hurt me
– My friends/family won’t like me anymore

It is useful to ask yourself:
1. What are the benefits of staying overweight?
2. What do you have to give up to achieve your goal?
3. Do you use food as your main reward either for yourself or your children?

Read these questions out loud then sit quietly and listen to what you say to yourself. Write down your answers. Remember, the more honest you are with your thoughts and feelings, the more profound change you are able to achieve.

Recent Research Tackling Food Cravings!

A recent randomised clinical trial tested whether The Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) could reduce food cravings in participants under laboratory-controlled conditions. Ninety-six overweight or obese adults who were allocated to the EFT treatment or 4-week waitlist condition. The waitlist condition received treatment after completion of the test period. Degree of food craving, perceived power of food, restraint capabilities and psychological symptoms were assessed pre- and post- a four week EFT treatment program, at 6- and 12-month follow-up. EFT was associated with a significantly greater improvement in food cravings, the subjective power of food and craving restraint than waitlist from pre- to immediately post-test. At 6-months, an improvement in food cravings and the subjective power of food after treatment was maintained and a delayed effect was seen for restraint. At 12-months an improvement in food cravings and the subjective power of food after treatment was maintained, and a significant reduction in Body Mass Index (BMI) occurred from pre- to 12-months.

EFT as a therapy belongs to a group of therapies termed ‘energy psychology’ (EP) and similar treatments would include Thought Field Therapy (TFT), EMDR, and Tapas Acupressure Technique (TAT). EFT was originally designed as a simplified version of TFT. Based on acupuncture principles, Callahan (2000) suggested that a brief tapping procedure may be successfully used to treat almost any emotional disorder. Specific problems have a tailored procedure and after diagnosis, the process involves tapping on specific meridian points on one’s body while focusing the mind on the source of the distressing situation. The tapping is suggested to create energy.

It seems EFT can have an immediate effect on reducing food cravings, result in maintaining reduced cravings over time and impact upon BMI in overweight and obese individuals. This addition to weight loss/dietary programs may result in assisting people to achieve and maintain reduced food cravings and lose weight.

How To Make Healthy Food Can Taste Better Than You Think

I believe that virtually everyone wants to eat healthier, but there are a number of things that seem always get in the way. One of the biggest problems for people, especially those who generally eat unhealthy foods, is that healthier foods typically don’t taste as good as the foods they are used to eating. I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard people try healthy foods and say things like, “This tastes like sawdust” or “I might as well be eating cardboard.” Obviously, this is problematic, because if you can’t stand the taste of healthy foods, you will probably continue eating unhealthy foods.

First, I want to say that while healthy foods have a stereotype of being bland or tasting bad, they have come a long way over the years from a taste standpoint. Also, many herbs and spices can be added to healthy foods to add more flavor without making them unhealthier, so there are definitely options. On the other hand, some people still do not like the taste of these foods or do not have the time or want to spend the effort to mix in herbs/spices or cook meals themselves in order to make the food taste better. If this is the case for you, don’t worry, because there is an easy way to make healthy foods taste better, especially if you currently eat a lot of foods high in fat and sugar.

Before moving on, I should make sure that you don’t get your expectations too high. If you love chocolate, it isn’t realistic to think that natural healthy foods will taste as good as chocolate, but they will probably taste significantly better than they do right now. They may even end up tasting better than you ever thought they could. If you are serious about improving your nutrition and want healthy foods to taste better, the thing you should do is simply eat more healthy foods and cut back on fat and sugar, especially refined sugars such as sucrose (basic white/table sugar).

I know that probably wasn’t the advice you wanted to hear, but bear with me. When healthy foods “taste bad” or “have no flavor,” the issue is often not the food itself, but rather your taste buds. When you eat a lot of sugary and fatty foods, your taste buds become accustomed to the high level of sweetness/richness, which actually changes the way you taste less flavorful or unsweetened foods. As a result, healthy and natural foods generally end up tasting worse than they should.

My guess is you already have some experience transitioning from a richer flavor food to a “less flavorful” version of the same food. Over the years, many people have switched from whole milk to 2% or fat-free milk, regular soda to diet soda, fried chicken to baked chicken, etc. There are many different situations where people stop eating an unhealthy food and replace it with something that is at least somewhat healthier.

At the beginning of this type of change, the new food (with less fat and/or sugar) will probably taste worse to you than the old food. For instance, when people first switch from high-fat milk to low-fat milk, they typically say the lower fat milk has less taste or tastes like water. However, after drinking the lower fat milk for a while, your taste buds will change and it will start tasting like the higher fat milk did before. At this point, if you try the higher fat milk again, you may think it will taste rich or fatty and you may even prefer the taste of the lower fat milk.

This type of change in the way foods taste not only happens with foods that are high in fat or sugar, like whole milk and soda, but it also happens with foods high in complex carbohydrates, such as rice, pasta, bread, and cereal. Many people eat more refined carbohydrate products, such as white rice, white pasta, or non whole-grain cereals (usually with added sugar), but it would be healthier to eat brown rice, whole grain bread/pasta, and whole grain cereals with minimal sugars.

As with milk, the healthier products may not taste good at first, especially if you have always eaten the products made with refined carbohydrates, but that will change with time. In some cases it can be a different texture, smell, or perceived lack of flavor that turns people off from these healthier alternatives, but once your taste buds adapt to the new foods, you will notice more flavor and eventually they won’t seem much different from the foods you used to eat.

So far I have only discussed the way tastes change when you stop eating one food and replace it with a similar healthier food, but these changes take place on a more general level as well. Basically, the more you eat foods that are high in processed fats and carbs, the worse natural healthy foods will taste to you. If you are able to decrease you overall intake of unhealthy fats and sugars, you will find that many other healthy foods that you thought were bland actually do have a decent amount of flavor.

On the other hand, if you keep eating higher amounts of sugary and fatty foods and only change one specific food, such as white bread to whole grain bread, you will not get the added benefit having other healthy foods taste better. This is especially true with sugar consumption, because when you eat a lot of sugar, things without sugar just do not taste as good. Your taste buds essentially become addicted to the taste of sugar, similar to the way your body can get addicted to caffeine. In these situations, the only way to get your taste buds back to normal is by drastically cutting back on your sugar intake.

If you have been having trouble eating healthier foods, because they don’t taste good to you, I hope this information helps motivate you to keep trying. Sometimes it does take a few weeks or even months, depending on how much unhealthy food you eat, but eventually healthy foods will start tasting better. Admittedly, switching from unhealthier foods to healthy ones is not a fun process, but once you get through it, you never have to do it again (assuming you continue eating healthy).

After this process, many healthy foods you once considered tasteless or unpleasant may actually become things you like to eat. More importantly, your body will certainly feel better, you will be healthier, have more energy, and have an easier time losing fat than when you were eating unhealthier foods. There are so many upsides to eating healthier that it is certainly worth going through a few weeks of eating foods that don’t taste very good. In any case, you will have to go through it at some point, so it is better just to get it over with so you can start enjoying the real taste of healthier foods.

Between Natural Food and Package Food

There are substantial differences between the two. In order to analyse this, we need to consider the MAIN difference if we look at the words, “Real Natural” and also – “Packaged.”

Real Natural Foods – Untouched or modified, and straight off the vine or tree.

Packaged Foods – Processed and packaged, modified and “enhanced or tampered with.”

Now I know these two descriptions are the extreme, and you must realise that if it’s modified or processed, then it is (by definition) not natural – in its natural state.

Your body will consume anything you put in it, and deal with it as best as it can. This includes all the processed and modified foods. Some are not bad, and others, not good at all.

Now, the real health concerns over what foods to consume is not going to be a big debate today, except to say that everything that we put in our mouth will either do us good, or not good. As you could imagine then, you have to be careful about the processed foods we put into our bodies, and understand that everything has consequences. Whether it is in short term, long term or secondary effect, it will affect your body in some way.

Now let’s have a look at the packaged foods.

What do we do about research understanding things that are in foods? Do we read the packet to see what adverse elements are actually in them? Do you know how your body reacts to certain processed foods? More importantly – do you know what you are actually feeding your children?

We also have to understand that although packaged foods (processed foods) affects us all differently, there are some fundamental ways in which we will react, and it’s usually the degree of the reaction that varies among each of us.

Now this is what I want you to do. I want you to consider what is in your pantry and fridge. What is in your food cupboard? Now this is where we have to be honest with ourselves to get the most out of this information.

The reason this is important is because we can often “fool ourselves” into thinking that “it’s only a little bit,” or “it’s just a treat.” Here is the real question… Is it a treat? What constitutes the timing of treats? Well, a treat every night is not a treat. It’s really part of your staple diet. Are you consuming too much of the “nasties” that react adversely to your body?

Here is a typical list of what is found in most ‘western society pantries’ and fridges:

– Potato crisps (chips in a packet) / corn chips

– cookies (biscuits and crackers)

– rice crackers / rice and corn shapes

– cup cakes

– donuts

– muslie bars / rice bars / nut bars

– confectionary – chocolate bars

– candy / lollies / sweets on sticks / wrapped sweets / toffee / chew bars

– mints / breath mints / candy suckers / lollie suckers / lozengers

– premade pasta meals, instant noodles

– soda drinks / soft drinks / soda pops / premix carbonated drinks

– juices / fruit drinks / pre-squeezed fruit and vegetable juices

– beers / wines

Now I ask the question – where is the real food in it? Where are the fruit and veggies? Is this your staple diet?

Watch how you or your kids react when they eat packaged foods, and watch how they act after they eat natural foods. There is a big difference. As a parent, I have seen this first hand. There is food related bad behaviour, as well as good behaviour.

I know what I prefer. What about you?

There is another element that affects how fast we digest our foods through our bodies, called Glycemic Index (GI for short). The higher the Glycemic index, the faster our body digests and processes food in our body. If you have heard the term “Low GI food,” it is food that is slowly processed and gives a slow release of energy. On the other hand, a “High GI food” gives you an almost instant pick up of energy, processes fast, and then you “fall flat” and you are out of energy. Even some natural foods have a high Glycemic index. BUT, the majority of packaged foods have high GI.

If you eat a packet of potato crisps, you may feel satisfied for a short while, and then you are probably empty and “unsatisfied” a short while later. That is because they usually lace the chips or snack with salts and flavours that make you ‘want more’.

Here is a challenge for you.

Instead of snacking on packaged foods, choose a natural alternative. This could include nuts, dried fruit, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, sweet peas or beans, tomatoes, grapes, fruit, and yoghurt.

The idea is to have it prepared beforehand. It is very difficult to “grab a snack” that is healthy when you are in a hurry, unless you have something pre-prepared. With seeds and nuts, have them separated into small bags or containers, so that when you “run out the door” you can simply grab that pre-organised snack. You will be satisfied, and you will feel better for it. You won’t feel gluggy, or flat, and you are doing your body good, not filling it with junk foods. It is a matter of being prepared and it is not hard to do. If you are serious about having slight changes in your lifestyle, then this is an easy step.

Packaged foods are mixed. Some are “healthy” some are not. You have to be careful even if they are labelled healthy. Are they really healthy? Do they have chemical flavour enhancers such as MSG, preservatives, or pH balancers? Do they have swags of laboratory numbers on the ingredients list? Or really, really long words that only your doctor or chemist would understand? If so, then you should do some research, find out what they really stand for, and avoid foods that contain them. This can be a little difficult – especially if you have kids. It’s that “No” word. Just make healthy alternative choices instead.

Making the right decision for your whole family will mean changes. And no one likes change. Just do a little research to avoid some bigger problems later on. However, a good mix of natural foods will be the best solution. Take an apple. – If your kids can’t eat a whole apple, cut it up into smaller sizes, they are more likely to eat it. Make eating these things fun. You get excited about eating healthy, and your kids will follow. Don’t make a big fuss over it though, it will just happen. A good variety is the key.

As you can see, there are major differences between packaged foods and natural foods. As a rule, if it comes in a packet, so it has to be preserved. How have they done so? Natural foods have a shelf life, and go off. That is the natural order of life. If a packaged food can sit on the shelf and not go off, decay and decompose, then it is not food, and is probably doing you more harm than good.

We have to be careful of what we put in our mouth. Ask yourself this question, am I eating food, or eating a chemically unstable snack? There is a big difference. We just need to be careful, and be diligent about what we feed our bodies, and our kids’ bodies as well.