September 11, 2020

Reading labels to figure out which products are healthy and which are not can be daunting and confusing. The food industry is also pretty smart about making things look healthy and attractive.
With packaging, deceiving words like “natural”, “healthy”, and “all-natural” are meant to stir us away from the truth of what is actually in the package.

This is often seen with processed foods that contain some type of sugar. The package might say something like “no sugar added” or “natural sweeteners” which mostly means artificial sweeteners were added. I urge you to check out my other blog which breaks down my recommended Top 5 Natural Sugar Substitutes so you can satisfy your sweet-tooth minus the regret.

Here Are 4 Simple Tips to Help You Deconstruct Food Labels

  1. Start with reading the ingredients -not the nutrition facts- it’s more important to know where the fats, proteins and carbs are coming from vs how much is there.
  2. Ingredients are arranged in order of the most to the least, so check those first 3 ingredients first…and if they are sugar or flour or any unhealthy ingredient definitely skip it.
  3. Avoid long lists of ingredients that are hard to pronounce, usually, more than 5 ingredients are too hard to process.
  4. Avoid these 3 ingredients corn syrup, hydrogenated oils, and chemicals that you can’t pronounce.


5 Products Put Under Scrutiny

Here are 5 products with me assessing the ingredients and helping you define whether they are healthy or not…

1) Canyon Bakehouse gluten-free bread

Going gluten-free thinking you’re doing yourself a favor?

Not all gluten-free products are healthy, actually, the majority are full of teachers, sugars, and fillers to try and imitate the same effect of gluten.⠀

Let’s take a look at this Gluten-free supposedly ancient whole grain bread and see whether it’s truly healthy or not ⠀

Healthy Factors 👍🏽

Has brown rice flour, sorghum flour and oats flour, all whole grain healthy flours⠀
Has no preservatives, additives, or chemical ingredients ⠀

Non-Healthy Factors 👎

The first ingredient (which is the biggest) is tapioca starch, meaning carbohydrates stripped from its fiber⠀

Has only 1 Gm of fiber! that’s like almost nothing, and can’t be considered a whole grain bread⠀

Has some cane sugar⠀

Deceiving! Has less than 2% from the ancient grains mentioned in the name of the bread, which means its trace amounts only of millet, teff, and Quinoa ⠀

Final Verdict 🎊 – Healthy or Not Healthy?

This could be a quick solution for someone who has celiac or is gluten sensitive on occasions, but I wouldn’t consider it a wholegrain high fiber everyday bread. Instead, try making bread at home using almond flour, coconut flour, or a mix of whole grains that are gluten-free and high in fiber content like Quinoa and Buckwheat.⠀

2) So delicious dairy-free, sugar-free ice cream – is it healthy or not?⠀

Healthy Factors 👍🏽⠀

Gluten-free and Dairy-free⠀
The first ingredient is healthy, organic coconut milk and cream⠀
A heaping 7 Gm. of fiber (That’s’ great for an ice cream bar)⠀
Only 7 Gm. of net carbs, so no blood sugar spikes⠀
Has no sugar added⠀
Not a lot of weird additives ⠀
Uses stevia and monk fruit in sweetening (A low glycemic sweetener)⠀

Non-healthy Factors 👎⠀

Has some erythritol, sugar alcohol than can cause stomach upset for some people⠀
Has vegetable glycerin, typically made from soybean or palm oils⠀

Final Verdict 🎊 – Healthy or Not Healthy?

Overall, I think this is a great product for an ice-cream, it avoids a lot of the unhealthy culprits in regular icecreams like non-organic dairy and sugar! it’s low on carbs and sugars so won’t cause intense cravings, and the ingredients are for the main part – not entirely – clean. For on occasional indulgence I would definitely recommend this over regular ice-cream.

3) Kevita fermented drinks

Kevita drinks are probiotic fizzy drinks that filled healthy market shelves in recent years, is it truly healthy or just a hype?⠀

Healthy Factors 🥳

The second ingredient is apple cider vinegar, aids in digestion, fixes any stomach acid problems, add probiotics (Aka healthy gut bacteria)⠀
The fizziness comes naturally from the fermentation done by healthy bacteria!⠀
Stevia for sweetening, low calories and doesn’t affect blood sugar ⠀
No weird additive or preservatives ⠀
Probiotics in the ingredients, great for boosting your immune system and improving gut health⠀

Non-Healthy Factors😩⠀

My only concern is that it has 7 Gm of sugar from the juice concentrate, so you want to be careful not to overdo it.⠀

Final Verdict 🎊 – Healthy or Not Healthy?

My verdict, it’s a great alternative for soda and sugary drinks. Great for people with digestive problems and for populating gut bacteria with healthy probiotics.⠀

4) Organic valley honey oat bars

Bars are one of the snacks I see the most in kids and parent’s lunchboxes, and mostly because they consider it a healthy snack.⠀

…Let’s explore whether this is truly healthy or not ⠀

Healthy Factors 👏🏻⠀

Oats is the first ingredient, a whole grain which is great ⠀

Non-Healthy Factors 👎

it has sugar as the second ingredient, 11gm per serving! ⠀
Canola oil, an unhealthy highly processed oil ⠀
Only 2gm of fiber, too low!⠀
A heaping 29Gm of carbohydrates per serving, not good for the waistline!⠀

Final Verdict 🎊 – Healthy or Not Healthy?
My verdict, this bar could be a good option to substitute chocolate or a cake, but not as a breakfast or a healthy snack to keep the kids going through the school day for example. Not for someone who is weight conscious and trying to watch their sugar and carb intake. Instead opt for whole real foods like nuts, plain oats with honey, apple and nut butter, hummus, and carrots.⠀

What is your favorite snack to pack?⠀

5) Bean-Based Pasta

Bean-based pasta has been a health trend in the last year or so, let’s explore whether it’s truly healthy or not!⠀

Healthy Factors 👍🏽⠀

The first ingredient is chickpeas, a whole bean 👏🏻⠀
Dietary fiber 5 Gm, great! 🎈⠀
13 Gm. of protein per serving! super ✓⠀
No sugars, additives, or weird ingredients 🎉⠀

Non-Healthy Factors 👎

heaping 32 Gm of carbs per serving! that could be too much for those that are weight conscious ⠀
Tapioca starch is the second ingredient, it’s basically a starchy flour with no fiber, mostly carbs!⠀
Pea protein is not exactly natural whole food, instead of a highly processed form of protein⠀
Beans are best consumed after soaking 12 hours and cooked very well, consuming beans in the form of flour or pasta can cause digestive distress for some people.⠀

So is it healthy or not?⠀
it really depends on your goals, and what healthy means to you. I would consider it a healthier alternative to regular white pasta, but not necessarily a superfood, or something I would indulge on without worrying about my portions. ⠀


About the author 

Aayah Khalaf

A health coach and detox specialist, CEO and founder of Bee Nourished a health and weight-loss initiative. I help women and mothers achieve their health and weight-loss goals with life changing programs that are uniquely yours.

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