Healthy Tahoe: Digging into food labels

It’s National Nutrition Month. During the month of March, we invite you to learn about making informed food choices and develop healthful eating and physical activity habits.

There is an immeasurable amount of information regarding the direct relationship between our health and the foods and beverages we put into our bodies, yet making informed food choices can still feel tricky, especially when navigating food labels.

Keywords and phrases printed on food labels, like “All-Natural” or “Non-GMO” are included to encourage consumer behavior, yet they are not regulated by any governing agency, so their definitions can be vague or misleading.

Phrases like, “100% Natural” and “Made with 100% Natural Ingredients” have no formal definition issued by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration nor do they address food production or processing. When purchasing foods labeled as “Natural,” take a look at the ingredient list; look for products with a focus on whole food ingredients and limit additives or preservatives.

GMO-related keywords such as “GMO-free” only exclude foods genetically modified by the method of transgenesis by humans in a lab, though many GMOs are naturally occurring, and many healthy foods labeled as “non-GMO” have gone through some form of genetic modification and thorough safety testing including canola, salmon, sweet potatoes and apples.

When navigating food labels and prioritizing healthy foods, aim to shop for fresh ingredients from the outside aisles in the grocery store, stick to your grocery list, look for food products that use whole foods as their main ingredients, and limit things with added sugars and sodium. If you focus on choosing foods based on what benefits it can provide you, rather than focusing on all the negative angles, you will find that it gets easier everyday to achieve balance in your diet.

Additionally a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist is a great partner- our goal is to help you feel confident making choices for your health with personalized nutrition advice specific to your goals.

Ariel Rearick, MS, RDN, LD is a registered dietitian nutritionist with Barton Nutrition. March is National Nutrition Month; Barton Nutrition can help address your questions about food labels- email nutrition@bartonhealth.org or call 530-543-5824 to schedule a consultation.