Don't Buy It If...
If the Label has More Than Five Ingredients
The more ingredients the food has in it, the more it has been processed. For example, look at Quaker Oats, their oatmeal in 1910 only had one ingredient—oats. By 2008, Quaker Oats had added sugars, unnatural fiber (guar gum), flavors, salt and trans fats to their Instant Oatmeal in an attempt to keep up with the flavorful times.
Though both are oatmeal, the 1910 version is far more nutritious than the 2008. It contains natural carbohydrates (not sugar), natural fiber (not synthetic), and needs no preservatives (instead of salt). The one ingredient is only oats, and you can still find the 1910 Oatmeal on shelves in stores today.
More: Decoding Fat and Calories on a Nutrition Label
If Any of the First Three Ingredients End in "Ose"
"Ose" stands for sugar. Many sugars used in the food industry are highly processed, high in calories and are really bad for you. Sugar is added back into foods when the food is processed so much that the flavor is removed. One of the easiest ways to add flavor is to add sugar. A natural and unprocessed food like fruit or oatmeal (the slow-cooked kind) should hold their natural flavor and not need added sugars.
More: 8 Food Additives and Ingredients You Should Avoid
If the Food Label Is Not Clear
What language is the food label written in? Are they real foods or chemical descriptions? Are you eating a color? This is a big question to ask yourself when you read the food label. Healthy, whole-food is just that, food. If you have to ask yourself what is actually in the food you are eating, it's mainly man-made.
More: 9 Natural Foods to Beware
If You Have a Coupon
Cheap food is just that—cheap. If it doesn't cost much to make the food, it does not cost much to buy the food. Most likely there is not much nutritional quality to the food because it doesn't have quality ingredients, like whole grains or natural meats.
More: Diet Detective: Nutrition Quiz to Test Your Food Smarts
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