Confessions of a Dietitian: I Don’t Read Food Labels…

I know, I know… you must be thinking that I am the worst dietitian ever! Let me explain. When trying new foods on occasion, I will glance at the nutrition facts label. However, I don’t often read food labels because the majority of the food I buy doesn’t have food labels. That’s right! If you think about it, the foods that are best for you have no labels – ie. fresh fruits and vegetables! (Or else there is only one ingredient listed on the package, ie. meat, tuna, frozen beans, etc.) The Food and Drug Association regulates food labeling and does not require produce, fresh fish, some cartons of eggs or foods from self-serve bulk bins to have a food or nutrition facts label (FDA.gov). The majority of my shopping cart is full of these foods!

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That doesn’t mean I don’t buy any foods with a label… however, I do choose these carefully and look at their labels the first time I buy. The foods that I purchase which are labeled include: cheese, grass-fed whole milk, butter, plain full-fat yogurt, soy or seitan, Ezekial bread, and peanut/sunflower butter. Although labeled, these foods make it into my cart because I make sure they have few ingredients. The shorter the ingredient list, the better!
You may have heard this phrase before, but when grocery shopping you really should “shop the perimeter”. That is where you will find all the mostly unlabeled, wholesome foods that you should be putting in your cart. Once you start wandering through the shelves of brightly packaged goods in the center of the store, you will be more likely to buy and eat it. Don’t fall into the temptation! 🙂 Even better, avoid the temptation entirely by shopping at your local farmer’s market!

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Let’s translate this into food. Here is a day’s worth of meals which can be prepared from foods found in the perimeter of the store combined with just a couple pantry items.

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Above I have oatmeal prepared with whole milk, an apple, cinnamon and a tablespoon of sunflower butter.

DSCF4132 For lunch, I usually try to have a big salad – this time I had spring greens with black beans, cheese, and ranch dressing. I usually pair this with a sweet potato and/or some fruit.

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Dinner this evening included roasted green beans, a sweet potato, and almond flour breaded fish.

Here’s where I found the ingredients for this day’s worth of meals:
Perimeter:

  • Apple
  • Green Beans
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Salad
  • Dressing
  • Whole Milk
  • Fish
  • Butter
  • Cheese

Shelves:

  • Almond flour
  • Cinnamon
  • Sunflower Butter

Bulk-Bins:

  • Oatmeal
  • Black beans

As you can see, if you plan well, you only need to venture into the aisles when you need to restock staples, which shouldn’t be every shopping trip. So, next time you go grocery shopping, see if you can “stick to the perimeter”. Your body will thank you for it!

Do you read the food/nutrition labels on all the foods you purchase?

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2 thoughts on “Confessions of a Dietitian: I Don’t Read Food Labels…

  1. I do the same basically. I will check tortillas for trans fat though…which that is the ingredient list anyways.Oh and I don't check food labels because my parents paid >$60,000 to avoid having to do that. (so tongue and cheek)

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