A Naturopath's guide to purchasing packaged foods

A Naturopath's guide to purchasing packaged foods

Updated: Mar 26, 2024Veronika Larisova

Guest post by @adaptive.naturopathy

Let’s be honest - packaged foods are both a necessity and a convenience in today's fast-moving environment. Of course, we always advocate for whole foods and home-cooked options BUT when we are on the run or are not feeling organised - we need to find a packaged alternative that doesn’t compromise our health goals. Lucky, we have this covered!! 

The health food aisle in the supermarket is my favourite. But we can’t ignore the fact that it is filled with an overwhelming amount of options - some with eye-catching packaging and most with artificial additives, hidden sugars, and misleading marketing tactics (when you look really closely). 

So - let’s break down some important things to look for in a packaged snack.. or should we say, some things to run from. 

While packaged foods may boast various health claims on the front of the package, it's the ingredient list that reveals the true nature of the product. Here are a few key points to keep in mind:

1. Keep it Simple

Opt for products with short ingredient lists containing recognisable, whole-food ingredients (hello Chief Collagen Bars). Beware of lengthy lists filled with artificial additives, preservatives, and unpronounceable chemicals.

2. Watch Out for Hidden Sugars

Sugar hides behind many different names, including high-fructose corn syrup, maltodextrin, and dextrose. Scan the ingredient list for these sneaky sweeteners, and choose products with minimal added sugars or opt for those sweetened with natural alternatives like monk fruit or camu camu. 

3. Beware of Artificial Additives

Artificial colours, flavours, and preservatives have been linked to various health concerns, including allergies, hyperactivity, and digestive issues. Steer clear of products containing these additives and prioritise those made with wholesome, real ingredients.

4. Look behind the marketing buzzwords

Don’t be fooled by “low fat” or “all-natural” claims UNTIL you’ve read the ingredient list. Sometimes this is just tactical marketing (and unfortunately, it does draw people in if they don’t know better). This goes the same for health star ratings - the true decider of the healthiest product lies in the ingredients list. 

    Navigating the world of packaged foods can be challenging, but armed with this knowledge, you can make informed choices that support your health (even during those busy times). As a Naturopath student, I encourage you to approach packaged foods with a critical eye, prioritise whole, minimally processed options (aka, Chief) and remember that your health is always worth investing in.

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