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This can be a very overwhelming, confusing experience, but it doesn't have to be.  I'll show you the 4 most important things to look for when determining if a food is healthy or not.  Don't try to replace all of your unhealthy foods at once, let it be a transition.  However, it all starts at the store -what you bring home is what you're gong to eat.  Therefore, it's extremely important to know how to shop healthy.  Make this a process, you don't  have to purchase the most healthy thing at first.  Start by comparing and trying to find something a little bit healthier than before, then continue to do that, always striving for improvement, not perfection. 

Grocery Shopping

The 1st thing you want to look at is the ingredient list.  You want to find ingredients that make it a whole food, not words you can't pronounce or recognize.  After it seems like a good quality food then you check out the next 3 important things on a label to determine if it's 'healthy'.  Read below to know the guidelines for each.  

SUGAR - When reading a food label, look at 'added sugar' and aim for zero! Anytime sugar is added, it's not usually healthy.  In our example to the right, there are 10g added which is a lot.  It doesn't mean you can't have it but men need less than 35g/day and women less than 25g/day so account for that.

FAT- There is healthy fat and unhealthy fat.  Our bodies needs the healthy fat (portion controlled) but we don't need unhealthy fat which has been connected with many health problems.   When reading a food label aim for zero trans fat and under 2g saturated fat per serving. General rule for saturated fat is getting under 15g per day but this differs person-to-person.

SODIUM- The total recommendation for sodium per day is less than 2300mg per day (<2000mg if you have high blood pressure).  You want to get as close to 140mg per serving as possible (this is the definition of 'low sodium'). If you had 2/3 cup of this sample product you would have 160mg towards your 2300mg.  

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If it wasn't for the 10g of added sugar this product would be off to a good start.  Many times you won't find the perfect product so you'll have to weigh out the pros and cons and try to find as healthy as possible.  The food label itself is only half the battle!  The most important thing to look at when determining if a product is healthy is the INGREDIENTS.  Companies can make the label look pretty good but the ingredients is what really matters.  Many times I go straight to the ingredients before I even read the food label.  This is how you know what's actually in the product.  Good rule of thumb -if you don't know what a word means or can't pronounce it chances are it's not a healthy ingredient.  Here is a link to a guide that lists some harmful ingredients to avoid. 

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