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Eating healthily should be easy once you decide to change your dietary habits, but, it’s not when ingredients like this are lurking in your foods.
Chances are, when you’re trying to lose weight, you do everything right with your diet. You eat lots of fruits and vegetables, avoid junk food, microwave meals, chips and candy, perhaps follow a reduced fat or low carb approach, and make sure that you include plenty of health foods in your daily plan.

Read the Ingredients

Whenever you buy something, or pick up some food at the grocery store, have a quick scan of the ingredient list. If there’s any ingredient on there that you can’t pronounce, or don’t know what it is, you’re best off putting it back on the shelf.

Natural Foods

Stick to the most natural foods you can find. These include fruits, vegetables, meat, fish, dairy products, nuts, seeds, pulses and wholegrains.

Don’t be afraid of real food either. Many dieters think that higher fat foods like butter, whole milk, red meat and peanut butter are public enemy number one in their quest for a lean body, but this is absolutely not the case at all. These foods, while slightly higher in calories, contain 100% natural ingredients, with no fake health foods added to them.

Lots of people would be inclined to switch from butter to margarine, which would save a few minor calories, but contains a lot more trans fats. Going from whole milk and red meat to soya milk and vegetarian meat can boost estrogen levels, and mean you’re missing out on vital essential fatty acids, and choosing reduced fat peanut butter really only means you’re choosing one with more sugar and sweeteners.

Real foods, while sometimes marginally higher in calories, are always better for your health.

Ask Questions

The best question to ask yourself is “Did this food swim, walk or fly, or was it grown in the ground?” If the answer to any of these is yes, then go ahead and eat it. If not, then it’s probably not much good.

Diet Foods

Avoid special “diet foods”. Much like the real food versus processed food debate, diet foods are usually loaded with some or all of the five sneaky health food ingredients you want to avoid. Generally, if a manufacturer claims something that sounds too good to be true on the packaging, it probably is.

Stick to the Outer Aisles when Shopping

Most of the foods that should be in your grocery basket are located in the outer aisles of the store. Fresh fruits and vegetables are usually one of the first things you see when you enter, the meat and fish are not much further away, then dairy products, nuts and grains are a little further on.

Avoid the end aisles and freezer sections, where you’ll see the TV dinners, desserts and convenience foods. Try not to hang around near the checkout either – stores tend to place candy bars and chips near the checkout lines so that you stare at them while you queue, and make impulse buys. Sneaky, but it often works.

It’s actually quite easy to decipher what you should and shouldn’t be eating, in what seems like a minefield of dietary information. Lots of foods that you wouldn’t initially expect contain sneaky unhealthy ingredients, but provided you stick to the guidelines, and use your common sense and knowledge, avoiding them won’t be a concern.

  • “Artificial Sweeteners: Understanding These and Other Sugar Substitutes” By Mayo Clinic. Published on October 9, 2010. Accessed on March 29, 2012. Retrieved from http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/artificial-sweeteners/MY00073
  • “Soy is for Dorks” By Charles Poliquin. 2012. Accessed on March 29, 2012. Retrieved from http://www.charlespoliquin.com/ArticlesMultimedia/Articles/Article/35/Soy_Is_For_Dorks.aspx
  • Photo courtesy of jdickert on Flickr: www.flickr.com/photos/jdickert/2383258134
  • Photo courtesy of elycefelizon Flickr: www.flickr.com/photos/elycefeliz/4061132404