We all know that the best foods to set on the table for our families are fresh and natural foods, preferably freshly-picked from our own backyard organic garden. We would even catch our own fish if we can, or have eggs straight out of our own poultry. Yet all these may simply be wishful thinking given our real situation-living in cramped apartments with nary a space for gardens and pursuing hectic jobs which leave us with not enough time to do our own cooking. And so after office hours, with heavy steps, we lumber down to our kitchen, peer mindlessly in the ref and pantry and settle on packaged foods for dinner. this link for more tips
Thankfully, though, there have also been a few good men in the packaged food industry. There are now packaged foods which have redeeming values. There are packaged foods made of organically-grown meat and produce. There are packaged items which are low in the unhealthy ingredients and fortified with nutrients.
The following guidelines are here to help you make the most out of packaged foods.
1.Always read nutrition labels.
Reading nutrition labels may be time-consuming but it is the only way you can check on all the ingredients lurking in your packaged foods. You may do nutrition label-reading if you have leisure time and just stick to the healthy brands later on.
The ingredients which are notorious for being excessive in packaged foods are salt, sugar, fats and preservatives while the healthy ones which are either absent or deficient are fiber and nutrients. Also deserving your attention are the serving sizes and number of servings per pack.
2.Keep in mind the following numbers of important ingredients when shopping:
-3 grams-the recommended fiber content per serving
-13 grams-the maximum amount of fats per serving
-30 grams-the maximum amount of sugar per serving
-500 mg-the maximum amount of sodium per meal
-Be familiar with the terms used for added value.
-Here is a sort of glossary on the common indicators of nutritional value.
-fortified, enriched, filled-This means the food is enriched with nutrients.
-single-serving-This means that the portion is already controlled for you, thus reducing your chances to overeat.
-whole-grain-This means grains which are simply mechanically ground and not chemically treated. Food is thus high in fiber and nutrients.
-organic-This means the food is sourced from organically-grown plants and animals devoid of fertilizers, pesticides and hormones.
3.Beware of the terms used for substances with health risks.
Just as there are terms which indicate nutrition, there are also terms which connote potential hazards to health.
-hydrogenated, shortening-This refers to oils which have been treated with heat and chemicals in order to extend shelf life. Trans fats are inevitably formed, leading to cardiovascular and other health problems.
-refined, bleached-These terms are commonly used in conjunction with flour and oils. Whole wheat flour, for instance, is refined and bleached in order to come up with longer shelf-life breads which are whiter and softer but are stripped of much of its nutrients and fiber.
-strange-sounding names- The unknown trace substances printed on food labels are usually preservatives, artificial colors and flavors. The more a packaged food contains these chemicals, the less healthier it is.
4.Consciously restrict the amount of packaged foods you eat.
-Schedule it. Perhaps you may schedule MWF or Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays for cooking with packaged foods. All the other days should be filled with fresh, nutritious foods.
-Limit it. Some nutritionists recommend consuming no more than 1 serving of packaged food per member of the family per day. Having a conscious mindset to control packaged food consumption is the only way you can really limit the consumption of fresh foods.