Reading ingredient lists can be confusing. They are long, small, in all capital letters, and filled with words you have never heard of. I often hear the saying “if you can’t pronounce it, don’t eat it“. I would agree! But I also think it is important to be an informed consumer and understand just what manufacturers are adding to foods.
The Center for Health in the Public Interest is a great neutral resource for reliable nutrition information. They have a great comprehensive list of all food additives and then deem them safe, to use with caution or to avoid. Have a look!
They tend to be a little more lenient then me…I would stick to only the “safe” options and try to avoid those listed to “cut back” or “use with caution”. In the long run, I don’t think it is worth the risk, especially since you can find less processed but still packaged foods. My recommendation is that a packaged product should have 5-6 ingredients or less. This is definitely doable now that consumers are becoming more aware of ingredient lists and demanding less processed foods. And please refer to my previous post for brand recommendations: Convenient Real Food.
Above all, the best thing you can do for yourself is to read ingredient lists as you are shopping. Don’t just focus on the calories, make sure that the calories you are consuming are made up of high quality ingredients. YOUR BODY IS WORTH IT!
Emily Fonnesbeck RD,CD