Diane McLaren's Healthy You Naturally Monthly Newsletter

September Issue 2010


Diane McLaren C.C.Ir., R.O.H.P., R.N.C.P.

As summer fades into treasured memories, fall is upon us and the kids are back to school, Meal planning is on most people's minds this time of year so I thought it would be a good time to share some thoughts on those, ah hem, fact labels found on all packaged foods. 

Understanding what's really in the products you consume can dramatically affect your weight and overall quality of health, as well as those you may be preparing meals for. 

Discover how to better understand food labeling:

  • When calories matter and when they don't
  • How ingredient lists obscure a products real nutritional value

I hope you find value in this information and thank you for allowing me to share my passion, training and experience with you.  I welcome your comments & feedback! 

Warm & Healthy Regards,

Warm & Healthy Regards, Diane

Diane McLaren C.C.Ir., R.O.H.P., R.N.C.P.
Natural Health Practitioner
Healthy You Naturally
(905) 855-3000

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What You Should Know About Food Fact Labels

Popular Breakfast Food LabelReading the labels on products you purchase is important and you probably do but did you know that the manufacturer has many ways to present the packaging and data so it appears to be nutritious when in fact, it can be anything but?

Look at the label to your right.  It's a very popular breakfast product and its packaging message is compelling, especially to children!

Humm, just 200 calories per serving, that's not bad ... or is it?  Tell me what do you think of it?

Knowing how to answer the question above will empower you, and anyone you prepare food for.

  • “Fat free”
  • “Higher in fibre”
  • “Low calorie”
  • "Made with real fruit"
  • "All natural"

Even as people are trying to make healthier choices, they are being conditioned to believe that phrases like these are healthier – when in fact they alone are certainly not!

Food Packaging & Labeling - Is It Designed To Be Confusing?

Marketing messages say one thing, but the ingredients tell a very different story!

It can be frustrating trying to make sense of the never-ending and often conflicting information fed to us by product labels, news media, advertising, regulatory bodies, etc. 

We are targeted with over 1,500 advertising messages every day! So let`s start by demystifying just one part of the fact panel found on food packaging.  Calories!

Biologically, Our Nutritional Needs Haven`t Changed Much Recently!

The body's balanced nutritional needs are about the same as they were 10,000 years ago!

  • In recent years, thousands of man-made ingredients the body does not recognize have found their way into our food, and our bodies
  • For the most part, the information on product fact panels tells us little, if any, of these man-made ingredients and daily nutritional quality has declined significantly
  • The rise of once middle-aged diseases in our youth (like diabetes) and a majority the population (over 60%) being overweight to obese eerily aligns with the availability of modern processed foods over the past century.  All are wide-spread today.
  • What percentage of the foods that you buy are actually in their raw state?

Nutrition Is Not Just About Putting Food In Your Mouth

  • Nutrition is about consuming quality foods and don`t be fooled into thinking you can get everything you need from even whole foods alone anymore
  • Agricultural practices, when/how often food is harvested, where it's harvested, the chemical additives used to force it to grow, pesticides to make it look good, the genetic modifications, preservatives, well, by the time it gets to your table it has been processed and handled so extensively, nutrient content is really quite poor

We have been conditioned to look at “calories” on the nutritional panel as a health quality measure when we buy our foods!  How very misleading that concept is!

What is a calorie anyway?

Calories are a simply a measure of heat or energy e.g. how much energy a food will deliver. The premise behind “watching calories” was developed for and is promoted to people who wanted to watch/lose weight.  It is a main-stream concept today.

The idea is to put less energy in the body than the energy burned, but if that worked, why are there countless examples low calorie products and diets with limited results?

Calorie measures alone provide poor information on the quality of food.

Calorie claims can guide people toward unhealthy choices, and away from healthy foods.

  • Diet soda has 0-1 calorie but numerous chemicals and artificial ingredients which contribute to weight gain vs. a pea vegetable soup which is full of nutrients, fibre, 200 calories and will contribute to health plus control weight 
  • The 200 calorie soup works because the body knows how to process the ingredients
Popular Cereal Food Label

Most People Would Agree, Popular Cereals Are Not That Nutritious, But They Do Sell Well!

If you only use calories as a guide and read the packaging claims, you might think they're not so bad!

Just 110 calories per serving (1 cup).  Take a quick view of this product label which applies equally well to many popular cereals and related processed foods:

Begin by ignoring the calories and look down to the ingredients, you find the first item is sugar!

The quantity of each ingredient in a product is most to least in order of appearance on the food label.  This also works well in describing the nutritional value of a product!

Ingredients: the top 3 are: sugar, corn and wheat flour, not so good!  Next is oats which are ok followed by hydgronated veg. oil (not good), vitamins and minerals (likely synthetic), natural flavours (warm and fuzzy) then artificial food colorings and other chemical additives.

It is the source of a calorie, carb, sodium, vitamin or mineral that is important when it comes to good nutrition, so look for whole plant sources.

  • It`s not the calorie that`s the issue, it`s the source
  • It`s not the sodium that`s the issue, it`s the source
  • It`s not the sugar that`s the issue, it`s the source

In this label, calories are derived from sugar, not a very nutritious ingredient.  Those consuming the product will experience something equivalent to a sugar rush and crash followed by cravings for more by mid morning!

Foods containing natural sources of these elements deliver a far superior, longer lasting, balanced and positive long-term effect on the body.

Yes, read the labels and be conscious of what it`s saying!

A Simplified Approach To Understanding Food Labels

  • I have a very simple rule, if I cannot read or pronounce 1-2 ingredients, I won’t buy it
  • That's over 80% of typical grocery store food choices so remember, it is what we do everyday that counts and keeps us healthy, not what we do once in a while
  • I am not saying you totally ignore the calories, look for nutrient sources and use calorie content as a last bit of information when making food selections, not the first

Thoughts To Ponder

It`s the first 3 or 4 ingredients that make up a majority of a product so ...

How can a food labeled as “very high source of fibre” with 12 g in one serving be healthy for you when the second ingredient is “sugar” which we know contributes to weight gain, creates nutrient debts, depletes the immune system, creates cavities and so much more?

What about when the third ingredient is another form of sugar called malt or high fructose corn syrup, the 4th ingredient is “salt” which we know contributes to high blood pressure, water retention, hardening of the arteries perhaps it's time to look elsewhere!

Then there's the ingredients which no one can even pronounce including a few synthetic vitamins/minerals.  Do you really want those chemicals in your body?

Eat well, your body will reward you with many years of faithful performance!

Do You Want To Open An NSP Account?

Visit an NSP website (USA or Canada) to order nutritional herbs at member discounts. 

If you do want to open your own account, please use sponsor # 342288-7 Diane McLaren (note Canada if you live in the USA so you get local US delivery) and with your purchase you'll enjoy a 1 year membership of great discounts on all your herbal and nutritional supplementation needs.

Got questions about NSP?  

Ask me!  I've used NSP products personally since the 1980's and professionally since 1994.

Want a personalized wellness plan?

If you have questions about information in this article or would like to get a personalized wellness plan in place, I would be honored to be of service. 

Warm regards!

Diane McLaren
(905) 855-3000

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