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Learning a Little About Nutrition

By Stephen R. Farris

We always hear a lot about nutritional health, but what is it that we should be looking for? Should we be counting calories, cutting out certain foods, adding certain foods? It can get kind of confusing out there, especially when it comes to reading all of those food labels on packages and canned goods. Sure, they lure you in with low-sodium, low-fat, low-carb, light, fat-free, gluten-free, etc., but are there other ingredients hidden in that fine print? It's enough to make you take a magnifying glass with you while shopping, just so you'll know exactly what's inside the food we buy.

However, you can cut out a lot of the guesswork by simply buying fresh products like fruits and raw vegetables. Let's not leave out the meat department either. There's plenty of lean cuts of poultry and fish meats to choose from that are healthy for us and can be used in all kinds of delicious, nutritious meals. So let's take a look at that word again. Nutrition.

What the Label Actually Means

When buying processed food -- I don't recommend unless absolutely necessary -- make sure you are reading those labels. They may advertise healthy, and use words like "whole grain," and other key buzzwords, but most of those items still have lots of sugar and sodium in them. Also, try to look for items that list "whole foods" as their first three main ingredients. If the list is more than a couple of lines long, chances are that item has undergone high processing methods.

What About Portions

Nearly all labels suggest -- or have written/typed -- the serving size per individual, or how many servings are available in the product. Seriously, who drinks just a half-can of soda if the suggested serving size is 6 ounces, or two servings per can? A 12-ounce can of ravioli is usually the same as one serving in a restaurant, yet the label may suggest two or three. Let's not forget about the calories per serving either. Those serving portions can dig into your daily caloric intake fast. So read, learn, then proceed with caution if you're trying to lose weight or maintain it.

Last, but Not Least, the Hype! 

These are a few of the key words you'll find on most labels, advertising that they are supposed to be healthy. Quick clue, they're not always healthy.

  • Light
  • Natural
  • Organic
  • Wholegrain
  • No added sugar
  • Low-calorie
  • Fortified or enriched
  • Fruit-flavored
  • Zero trans-fat

The best way to learn if something's nutritious, or not, is to study and do your research.

To learn more about your health, wellness and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Baton Rouge, La.

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