Currently, I don't read labels anymore and you don't have to either. Here's why, I don't buy food with labels! Ok, I don't buy absolutely 100% of my foods without labels (even eggs have a label), but I try to eat foods that don't have them such as fresh fruits, vegetables, and quality/grass fed/hormone free meats from local butcher shops. Most food with labels are processed packages, and replace real ingredients like fat and sugar with carbs and man-made sugar substitutes (which are causing the problems they're claiming will help people avoid).
If you want a cookie, make it! Not from a factory and pre-packaged for you, but a real and tasty cookie that won't last 2 years on a shelf. One that will digest properly in your body because the ingredients aren't foreign invaders. Yes, it's a cookie and I had one, but I can tell you the ingredients and pronounce them! :)
What about those of you reading this who do buy food with labels? I won't leave you hanging. Like I said, I don't buy everything without labels, I'm not making my own yogurt and raising cattle. I'm a house wife and have kids who like pretzels and tortilla chips, so we're real. It's still pretty simple to read labels and I want to show you how.
Green beans from a friend's garden...
#1 Look at the Ingredients List first. Don't waste your time looking at the fat content first. It starts and can end with what the food is made of.
#2 How many ingredients are listed? It's pretty easy to glance and see 30 ingredients on the back of a label, if so, put that sucker down because there's no use. Fat-free ice cream sandwiches drenched in no calorie chocolate?! That's the heart attack waiting to happen cause it isn't real people! Your body will self-destruct over time. Give me cream and cocoa instead. Seriously. I want ice cream from the cow, not the lab.
Green beans, bacon, onions, peppers...thanks sister.
#3 Choose foods that have real and recognizable ingredients. If you pick up a package of tortillas and it has mon-whatever and di-you name it, then put it down (that's where it ends), look up my tortilla recipe, and spend 20 minutes making the best tortillas you've ever had. But if it says, flour, butter/oil, water, salt, then buy them.
Stuffed tomato...cook in the oven. Wow! Yum.
#4 Watch for sneaky ingredients (remember being able to recognize foods...#3). Hydrogenated anything? Stay away. Trans fat is never good for the body. N-e-v-e-r. Even if it says, "No trans fat" on the label, there's loop holes. If partially or fully hydrogenated is listed, it's trans fat. You mean the USDA isn't always truthful and doesn't have our best health in mind? Shocking I know. Also, those commercials are LYING when they say High Fructose Corn Syrup isn't bad for you. So if it's in the food, put it down. Yes, real sugar is better for you than HFCS.
#5 Once you have determined the food you are holding is real and acceptable, you may look above the ingredients list. But don't be afraid of fat. The low-fat era still lingers and the more real foods we eat actually contain a decent amount of fat. But guess what? It's not the enemy. All the processed junk is. So full fat cheese, yogurt, ice cream, nuts, eggs, etc are not bad for you. You don't have to limit your fat to almost nothing. Our bodies need fat. Our hormones are regulated by it, our brains, organs, skin, hair, and nails need it.
The easiest way to read labels is to barely read them because you're buying fresh, whole foods. The more you buy those foods, the more time you save, empty calories avoided, cravings dissipated, pounds lost, blood sugar stabilized, and the more life you bring to your body. It's really pretty incredible and life-giving.