Labels, Clean Eating (Part 1)

Clean eating is not a diet; it is a lifestyle and it’s something that’s super easy to get used to.   It means consuming food in its purest form- whole, unrefined foods; nothing that comes in a package with preservatives and nothing that has an ingredient list with ingredients that you can’t pronounce.   Fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean meat (not pre-packaged). Side note: meat isn’t critical to clean eating, if you’re vegan or vegetarian that’s perfectly fine.   Along with whole foods, eat healthy fats, drink a lot of water, consume reasonable frequent portions throughout the day and read labels carefully.


Photo courtesy of cookbookman17

Onto the topic of labels, you have to become more conscious by sifting through what’s in your food. Be smart- just because a package claims to be low fat, or ‘healthy’ doesn’t mean that it is. Welcome to strategic marketing; food labels do tell you what is in your food, but it’s up to you to figure out what the ingredients actually mean. It’s important to become a smart consumer and get to know the ‘good’ vs. the ‘bad’ in labels. Once you know how to do this, making better choices will become second nature to you. Your body will reward you with a healthy complexion, increased energy and weight loss.


Photo courtesy of Ingserban

I wanted to take a label and show everyone how you can tell when something is bad for you, so I picked Uncle Ben’s Bistro Express rice. The clever marketing team at Mars Incorporated markets these products as a part of ‘healthy Living, quick and convenient’. Shouldn’t the consumer start to wonder how convenient a plastic microwavable pouch is? Plastic pouch + microwave = disgustingly unsafe. It doesn’t matter how convenient something might be, we need to stop trusting in clever marketing ploys and start doing our own research for the sake of our health.

People wonder why they’re unable to lose weight or why they’re complexion looks dull or why they have reoccurring stomach issues.   Look at the label on their mushroom flavor long grain & wild rice- my comments are in red:

WATER, LONG GRAIN PARBOILED RICE (has 80% the nutrition of brown rice), WILD RICE, CANOLA OIL AND/OR SUNFLOWER OIL, SALT (enter our friend ‘sodium’ 5th on the list, which means that there is a lot of it), DEXTROSE (is a form of glucose....not cool), HYDROLYZED PLANT PROTEIN (SOY, CORN, WHEAT) (contains MSG….Yes…I said MSG), MUSHROOM POWDER, HYDROGENATED VEGETABLE OIL (SOYBEAN, COTTONSEED, SUNFLOWER) (Here come the garbage fats), MODIFIED MILK INGREDIENTS (a term to describe any product that was originally milk…what does “was originally’ mean?), BUTTER POWDER (what?), MODIFIED CORN STARCH (modified is not good), AUTOLYZED YEAST EXTRACT (typically used as a less expensive substitute for MSG), MALTODEXTRIN (has a fast glycemic index which can make you feel hungry right after you eat), GARLIC POWDER, SUGAR (bad), GUAR GUM (another additive), ONION POWDER, SPICES (do these spices contain our little friend MSG, who knows), FLAVOUR (be more specific please), XANTHAN GUM (another additive), DISODIUM PHOSPHATE (additive/preservative), COLOUR (?), TORULA YEAST (additive/preservative), DEHYDRATED VEGETABLES (ONIONS, TOMATOES, CARROTS, PARSLEY).


Photo courtesy of "miamism"

At 500mg of sodium in roughly  ½ a cup, if you were to eat 1 cup of this rice at dinner you would have already hit your daily sodium allowance. No wonder you feel bloated and lethargic. And this is nothing against Uncle Ben’s; go into your pantry and take a look at the labels on your food; if you don’t know what the ingredients are and you can’t pronounce half the names, then how can you justify putting it into your body?

So then what would a clean rice label look like? The cleanest rice option would be rice itself- preferably brown and wild rice. Then, just choose some real ingredients to add to it for example: garlic, chili powder, thyme, cilantro, rosemary, curry, low sodium broth, mushrooms, asparagus, beans and walnuts. The list is endless.

Eating clean is convenient; all you need to do is organize a weekly menu ahead of time, plan out your grocery list accordingly and cook meals at the beginning of the week so that they’re ready to go at any time.   Once you start to get in the habit of buying clean/ whole foods and pairing them with great natural flavor enhancers such as herbs and spices, the many benefits of this new lifestyle are remarkable.

Stay tuned for part: more deceiving labels of foods that you thought were good for you.