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Number of ingredients are getting smaller, but can still confuse you!

I admit to eating many a food item that comes pre-made or in a wrapper, but I do read labels. 

I read all of the labels that hit my grocery cart, and I throw back lots of things that hop in with a laundry list of five-syllable ingredients.  The smaller the ingredient list, the better, you know what you are eating. 

Would you let this in your kids' bowl (or yours?)   Ha.  Occasionally.  I never really "allowed" junk cereals in my house, but we do occasionally bring in a box of "That bird ceweeal Mama!"

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So please let me tell you how happy I am that one of my children is currently in love with this:

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I must admit, however, that as a WLS'er sometimes it is beyond hard to eat simply made or simple ingredient foods.  Many of the foods available for our uniqueness are super-manufactured.  This is just an example of a food I might eat every day:

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I have said over and over again, I would love to have a Food Pill, all of the nutrients of a meal, in a simple capsule or chewable tablet, because eating sometimes is a chore and makes us ill.  Especially for those of us who react to Good Simple Wholesome Foods.  Potato?  OH NO.  (I know, it's pretty ridiculous, but reality for some of us.)


Have you ever really given the side of that cereal box you just bought for the kids a good look?  O-o  Or that boxed dinner?  Or, anything, really?

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Number of ingredients is getting smaller, but many food labels still have confusing lists

From:  Chicago Tribune

When it comes to packaged food, a short ingredient list has become something to brag about.

Food author and activist Michael Pollan has been a major champion of this concept. In his frequently cited "rules of eating," Pollan suggests avoiding products with more than five ingredients, or ingredients you can't pronounce.

If you can't say it, don't eat it, he advises. Or if your great-grandmother wouldn't recognize it, skip it.

Food manufacturers appear to be taking notice. Today, it's all about few and familiar ingredients.

First, it was Five, the new line of Haagen-Dazs ice cream that's made with only five ingredients -- including well-known kitchen staples (milk, cream, sugar and eggs). Then, Pillsbury introduced Simply cookies that are based on a similar premise: "Made just like you would make at home, same ingredients, same process."

Many food companies are scrambling to simplify ingredient lists and find naturally sourced alternatives to create what has been dubbed a "clean label." And when they do, they proudly declare "no artificial flavors, colors or preservatives" on the front of the package. That has become one of the most popular claims made by new foods and beverages, according to the market research firm Mintel.

In this era of fresh, organic and whole foods, we've become a nation fearful of food additives, said dietitian Elisa Zied, a New York-based spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association. Pure, clean and natural are the new demands.

"People want to know what they're eating," she said.

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How to read an ingredient list

From The Chicago Tribune:

The ingredients on a food label are listed in descending order by weight, from the largest to the smallest. Companies are required to list all ingredients in the food. You might, however, see some ingredients listed collectively as "flavor," "spices" or "artificial flavoring." If you have food allergies, you don't need to worry that an offending ingredient is hiding inside. FDA now requires that companies call out in plain language whether products contain any of the eight major food allergens: milk, eggs, fish, shellfish, peanuts, tree nuts, wheat and soy.

Sugar, known by many names: Sugar can pop up in the ingredient list in many guises. Several types of sweeteners are often used, which means sugar may be distributed throughout the list and may not be the first or second ingredient (so the product could have more sugar than you realize). All should only be eaten in moderation.

Label says: agave nectar, beet sugar, brown sugar, cane juice crystals, corn syrup, corn sweetener, dextrose, evaporated cane juice, fructose, fruit juice concentrate, glucose, high fructose corn syrup, honey, invert sugar, malt syrup, maltose, molasses, raw sugar, sugar (sucrose), sorghum syrup, turbinado sugar

Leavening agents: These ingredients help baked goods rise. Leavening agents with "sodium" in the name increase the salt levels of the product. Calcium- and potassium-based leavening agents are increasingly used to make lower-sodium items.

Label says: sodium bicarbonate (baking soda), sodium acid pyrophosphate, monocalcium phosphate, potassium bicarbonate, calcium carbonate

Preservatives: These ingredients are added to food to slow spoilage, including the growth of bacteria and molds. Preservatives also help maintain freshness, delay rancidity and prevent changes in color, flavor or texture.

Label says: ascorbic acid, butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA), butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT), calcium propionate, calcium sorbate, citric acid, EDTA, potassium sorbate, propyl gallate, sodium benzoate, sodium erythorbate, sodium nitrite, sodium nitrate, tocopherols

Nutrient fortification: Sometimes you might be alarmed at a long list of ingredients, but often many of the unfamiliar names are nutrients used to enrich or fortify the product -- especially in cereals and breads. Here are some of the common names of nutrients.

Label says: thiamine hydrochloride, riboflavin (vitamin B-2), niacin or niacinamide, folate or folic acid, beta carotene, potassium iodide, iron or ferrous sulfate, alpha tocopherols, ascorbic acid, amino acids (L-tryptophan, L-lysine, L-leucine, L-methionine)

Emulsifiers: Emulsifiers allow for the smooth mixing of ingredients and help prevent separation in products such as salad dressings, peanut butter and margarine. They also are used to control crystallization in frozen desserts. Common emulsifiers include:

Label says: soy lecithin, mono- and diglycerides, egg yolks, polysorbates, sorbitan monostearate

Flavor enhancers: These ingredients have little or no flavor of their own, but are added to enhance the flavors of foods. Some people complain of sensitivities to monosodium glutamate (MSG); many companies have been working to eliminate it.

Label says: monosodium glutamate (MSG), hydrolyzed soy protein, autolyzed yeast extract, disodium gunaylate or inosinate

Stabilizers and thickeners: Sometimes ingredients are used to keep the combinations of water, oils and solids well mixed and to improve the "mouth feel." These stabilizers and thickeners are often natural or chemically modified carbohydrates that absorb some of the water that is present in food to make it thicker.

Label says: gelatin, pectin, guar gum, carrageenan, xanthan gum, whey

Ingredients to watch: All food additives must be approved by the Food and Drug Administration. Yet the Center for Science in the Public Interest, a consumer food advocacy group, considers some additives poorly tested and believes they may pose a health risk for some people. Not all experts agree, but the center recommends avoiding these ingredients:

Label says: acesulfame-K, artificial colors Blue 1, Blue 2, Green 3, Red 3, Yellow 6, aspartame, butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA), cyclamate, olestra, partially hydrogenated vegetable oil (trans fat), potassium bromate, propyl gallate, saccharin, sodium nitrate, sodium nitrite

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