Reading Food Labels — The Easiest Way to Lose Weight

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Does the product packaging play a significant role in your decisions when buying?

Well, it does to me! Packaging or advertising provides information for us consumers about what a product is made of. However, it’s sad that many manufacturers don’t care much about giving us the RIGHT or ENTIRE knowledge! ?

As a marketing strategy, putting misleading labels might have been caused by the pushy competition among different companies. Beyond increasing their sales and production, many have set aside giving us REAL and ACCURATE product information!

This becomes a more pressing issue if you are someone who has been wanting to lose weight! You didn’t know how reading food labels could help you achieve your goal in so many ways, did you?

If you have been watching the number on the scale, sugar is something that you must consider above all else. Nowadays, manufacturers have learned hiding sugars behind different names and forms! This is why you have to be more attentive to what these labels really say. ?

Take it easy! We are about to play detective by decoding what’s real, what’s not and what’s behind the food labels that we always see. Remember, a wise consumer can’t be tricked!

Reading Food Labels — The Easiest Way to Lose Weight

What’s at stake?

You might think that nothing serious could happen by not knowing enough about food labels. Well, that could be true, given that no serious health problem could indeed take place immediately. But if staying unknowledgeable becomes a habit to you, then that’s how you get into trouble. You are slowly putting your health at stake! It will be an endless scenario of buying products that you “thought” to be good and healthy because of how they were labeled.

Food additives have been shown to create adverse side effects in prolonged consumption.
Preservatives, on the other hand, can have mild to severe impacts and can even become life-threatening.

It is believed that some of the side effects of these chemicals are weight gain, fatigue, headache, palpitations, dizziness, allergies, hives and acne! ? While habitual consumption of food containing these chemicals (whether you’re aware or not) could be linked to anxiety, depression, hormonal imbalance and a higher risk of chronic diseases.

Don’t they sound like a pack of menopause problems? Because they surely do to me, but cheer up! You’re probably just one article away to avoid them from creeping up. Sit back and let’s talk further!

7 Practical Tips to Read the Labels Right

Many food companies have renamed the additives and preservatives in their products. Instead, they use catchy, health-friendly names that consumers fall for! Have you also been sweet-talked by one of these?

  • “XYZ-Free”
  • “Low in XYZ”
  • “25% XYZ Reduced”
  • “Lite”
  • “No Preservatives”
  • “All-Natural”
  • “High in XYZ”

I mean, won’t they leave you head over heels indeed? Sometimes, our infatuation for going healthy leaves us clueless about the decisions we make. We trust the labels so much and fail to go out of our way, reading the more important information. Don’t be misled, wise one. Fall in love instead with these super helpful tips! These will surely make you WISER on your next grocery-shopping day!


How many times have you actually read the ingredient list at the back?

I understand, being knowledgeable about each and every ingredient on a nutrition label can be challenging. So, here’s an easy, health-saving trick you should remember: Product ingredients are listed in order, according to proportion used.

This means that the one listed first is the most dominant ingredient of the product. Avoid buying the product if sugar, refined grains, soy or seed oils are listed first — or found in the first five ingredients! These ingredients are considered the top dietary toxins, causing so many people to be sick and overweight.

Sometimes, you can also notice brackets on some ingredients. Brackets mean that there are more “sub-ingredients” making up these listed ingredients. And you have to inspect those too!

“The whole marketing issue is huge. I basically say, if it has a health claim on the label, don’t eat it.”

– Dr. Mark Hyman, Functional Medicine Advocate and New York Times best-selling author

Again, reading through the ingredients is IMPORTANT. Some products can be deceiving! You can only prove the front label to be true if it’s consistent with the ingredients at the back.


Paying double attention to your sugar intake is not only about losing weight. It’s also about insulin resistance, diabetes and other chronic diseases that none of us wants!

To many, “SUGAR-FREE” might have been the best friend of them all. Sadly, this label has always been the trickiest too!

Sweetheart, sugar can come in so many names. Did you know that there are over 56 different names for sugar listed on food labels? ? Most manufacturers use these other names on purpose to make their products look “healthy”. Thus, more people will buy them! All this time, you might have been putting your health at risk!

Take a look at these sugar aliases from Healthline! You’ll learn about what they are made of and the foods where they are commonly found! As long as you see one of these names on a product, then it is far from being “sugar-free”!

“Sugar alcohols” or “polyols” are also another form of sugar. They are a mix of sugar and alcohol and become a hybrid that is poorly digested or metabolized. Sugar alcohol is commonly found in protein bars, sugar-free gums, ice creams, cookies and candies! They may have a minimal impact on your insulin levels, but they are still not healthy for you. They can cause bloating, gas and diarrhea! Examples are xylitol, sorbitol, mannitol, maltitol and isomalt.

Did you know that the term “sugar” has a different definition than “sugars”, according to the FDA? “Sugar” means explicitly “table sugar” or “sucrose”. While “sugars” as a term means ALL sugars — including lactose in milk, fructose in fruit and honey or corn syrups! Manufacturers have mastered HIDING sugars from our sight. ?

Many weight-conscious women go for sugar-free soda, diet coke or coffee with low-sugar creamers and drink them at peace. They would sip, gulp and feel good about the fact that they only had one or two drinks! Not realizing that there is still a lot of sugar and calories hidden in those drinks. ?

In this case, here’s a helpful rule to remember: 4 grams = 1 teaspoon of sugar.

Sugar in your drink

Now you realize how your extra attention is definitely needed for this sweet little thing! Check out this video from Dr. Berg. He talks about how sugar is hidden in sneaky ways to make it look healthy! ? [Sneaky Hidden Ways to Make Sugar Look Healthier] [7:28]


Look for the serving size and the number of servings in the entire container! That’s how you accurately know how much you can eat — especially if you are on a carbohydrate or calorie budget!

Contrary to popular belief, doctors don’t usually recommend a low-calorie diet. However, a low-calorie diet can benefit most health conditions associated with obesity, such as high blood pressure or heart disease!

On the other hand, carbohydrate counting is a preferable approach for those with type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Carb-counting is commonly used to maintain a steady blood sugar level all throughout the day. If you are aiming for a pleasing figure on the scale, carb-counting is made for you! ?

Check out this video from Dr. Becky Gillaspy. You’ll see a full list of food options you can choose from for a low-carb diet! [What Can You Eat on a Low Carb Diet? (Full Food List)] [8:38]

“Food is medicine. It’s not just calories. It’s information, and it provides instructions that affect your gene expression, your hormones, your inflammation markers, your gut microbiome; It affects literally almost EVERYTHING that’s going on in your body — in real-time, every minute.”

-Dr. Mark Hyman, Functional Medicine Advocate and New York Times best-selling author


Men work well with Keto, a form of a low-carb, high-fat diet. While midlife women can benefit the most from a low-carb diet. This healthy way of eating can effectively deal with many menopause symptoms, especially WEIGHT GAIN — a biggie for us women!

Generally, going low carb is a top favorite among health enthusiasts. This gives us more reason to know what lies behind this health craze!

One of the things that you primarily need to know is the difference between “net carb” and “total carb”. Most of the time, you won’t see “net carb” in nutrition labels. But you can figure it out with a magic formula! To calculate net carb, subtract the Dietary Fiber and Sugar Alcohols (if any) from Total Carbohydrate.

Nutrition Facts

Now you might be wondering, which between the two matters more?

For many years, one of the strongest diet trends is the Keto Green way. To be in “ketosis” means that you have taught your body to burn fat instead of carbs, as a source of energy. The only way to start that is to force the transition by not eating any carbs. In this healthy way of eating, only the net carbs are taken into account; excluding fibers and starches (which are included in total carbs). Want to know the best thing about this eating practice? ?

Well, it allows us to consume as many greens, cruciferous vegetables and salads as possible — giving us all the vitamins and minerals we need!

Now, this is the claim of many people who count net carb instead of total carb: Fiber and sugar alcohols are not easily or completely digested by the body — which makes their impact on your blood glucose insignificant.

But Dr. Becky Gillaspy says otherwise. According to her, you should look at the total carb if you want to lose weight. That’s because some fibers and sugar alcohols can still be absorbed through the small intestine AND cause a spike in your blood glucose and insulin levels! Therefore, counting only the net carb could interfere with your weight loss.

Learn how net carb-counting could disrupt your low-carb diet! Watch this video from Dr. Becky: [Counting Net Carbs? It Could Be Sabotaging Your Low-Carb Diet…Here’s Why] [7:33]

Additionally, there are “fast carbs” and “slow carbs”. Slow carbs can be found in foods that are digested slowly (having a low glycemic index). They can be found in fruits, vegetables and legumes! Slow carbs can also be found in berries but generally, most fruits contain fast carbs.

On the other hand, fast carbs are digested quickly (having a high glycemic index). They are more likely to increase your blood sugar levels! Soda, fruit juices with concentrated sugar, candy bars, bread and pastries made with refined flour should all be avoided. You would not want to raise your blood sugar levels! ?


“Should I completely get rid of fats?”

The answer is no. Contrary to popular belief, fats are actually good for your health! The key is by going for the right kind of fats!

Among the vital functions that healthy fats can give are:

  • Supporting immune function
  • Maintaining internal organs’ insulation
  • Body temperature regulation
  • Brain development
  • Promoting skin health and aiding in the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins

Fats are also a primary source of energy!

“Now, what are the different types of fats, and what sources should I go for?” ?

Saturated fats: You can find healthy saturated fats in coconut products (including unsweetened coconut flakes and coconut oil) and grass-fed meat. You will easily spot a saturated fat because it stays solid at room temperature! However, coconut and palm oils are saturated fats that can remain liquid at room temperature.

Saturated fats form our core “structural fats”, which serve as the “bedding” of our internal organs! Studies suggest that the food source you choose for saturated fat makes a difference in how it becomes healthy for your body.

Monounsaturated fats: The best sources for healthy monounsaturated fats are olive oil, avocados, nuts, legumes, seeds and eggs. These fats are known for their beneficial effects on cardiovascular disease risk markers, reducing inflammation and decreasing blood pressure!

Polyunsaturated fats: The two major types of polyunsaturated fats are Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids. Healthy sources for Omega-3 are: mackerel, salmon, seabass, oysters, sardines, shrimp, trout, seaweed, chia and hemp seeds! Omega-3 intake reduces the risk of several chronic inflammatory conditions — including coronary heart disease. Additionally, Omega-3 can also do your weight some favor by reducing metabolic problems, such as central obesity (a.k.a belly fat)! ?

On the other hand, you can get healthy Omega-6 fats in coconut oil, olive oil and avocado oil. Omega-6 plays an essential role in cell growth, brain health and muscle development! It can also help reduce nerve pain, decrease arthritis symptoms, lower blood pressure, reduce the risk of heart problems and support bone health.

According to “My Food Data”, foods with a high omega-3 to omega-6 ratio include crab, fish (tuna, cod, salmon), mussels, rapini, spinach, flax seeds, mangoes, lettuce and kidney beans! This study and this, suggest that having a well-balanced omega-3 to omega-6 ratio in your diet leads to a reduced risk of diseases. This includes cancers, cardiovascular disease, inflammation, developmental disorders and cognitive aging.

Take a look at this video from Dr. Becky as she gives tips on the best fat to use when cooking! [Saturated vs Unsaturated Fat – What’s the Difference & Which to Choose] [6:50]

“Where do “trans-fats” belong?”

Most companies and fast-food chains add hydrogen to oil during the manufacturing process. The product? TRANS-FATS! Manufacturers do this process because it can extend the shelf life of foods and enhance the texture!

So, don’t fall for “zero trans –fat” labels! This is another trick that most manufacturers do. They use “partially” hydrogenated ingredients to claim that the product is free from trans-fat.

Trans-fats have shown to increase cholesterol levels, putting consumers at higher risk of heart disease and stroke. They are notorious for causing arteries to be clogged. Partially hydrogenated oil is commonly found in frozen pizzas, non-dairy creamer, microwave popcorn, biscuits, cookies, cakes, pies, doughnuts and deep-fried foods in your go-to resto!


Organic enthusiasts all have one common denominator — and that’s enjoying the delight of products that are free of toxic chemicals!

The thing is, there are actually a lot of standards for a product to be labeled “organic”. Nowadays, many manufacturers only follow SOME of the tightly regulated standards. ?

Remember this: Quality organics must be free from GMOs (genetically modified organisms) for them to be purely organic!

To relieve you from not knowing how to identify quality organics, let me introduce you to the Dirty Dozen™ and Clean Fifteen™! The top 12 most chemical-rich crops are collectively called “The Dirty Dozen™”. While the “Clean Fifteen™” refers to 15 crops that use the least amount of pesticide contamination. These two were initiated by the Environmental Working Group (EWG).

Every day, consumers rely on EWG’s Shopper’s Guide to help them make the best choices for their families’ daily consumption. Now, you might as well be a part of these wise shoppers! ?

“Can going organic help me lose weight?”

It can! But only if you choose organic, nutrient-rich products without too many carbs or sugar! You’re also unlikely to develop cravings that result in weight gain if your diet is free from additives and chemicals. By going organic, you allow your hormones to function properly and bring your metabolism back to work too! ?

We got an article specially made for EVERYTHING ORGANIC and you can check it out here! ?

7 Wise Things You Should Know Before Going Organic


This principle is inspired by the book, Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual, authored by Michael Pollan. He is a well-known American activist and author of books about the socio-cultural impacts of food!

Basically, the Great-Grandmother Rule says: “Don’t eat anything your great-grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food.” If your great-grandmother is walking by your side along the supermarket aisle, would she have any clue about that plastic tube filled with colored gel? Would she recognize it as the famous “portable” yogurt? Or would she see it as toothpaste?

You see, there are now thousands of food-like products in the supermarket. I bet our ancestors wouldn’t even perceive them as food! Not to mention the various chemical additives they contain, or the plastics where they are packaged — which are probably toxic too!

“You’re much better off eating whole fresh foods than processed food products.”

– Michael Pollan, American activist and author

Processed foods tend to trigger our classic preferences for sweets, fats and salt — WHICH CAN ALL LEAD TO WEIGHT GAIN! These flavors are hard to find from nature but easy for food companies to manufacture! And that’s how this rule can help you keep unhealthy foods out of your diet. Now, you better thank your great-grandma!

The Bottomline

You see, a lot of ingredients are factory-made nowadays. They serve the purpose of making products sit on the shelf for years! If you can hardly pronounce most of the ingredients, believe me, you won’t regret skipping the product! Always watch out for sugar if you want to drop those extra pounds. ?

Spare yourself from the tricky world of food labels by going for foods that don’t have labels at all — fresh fruits, vegetables, shellfish, grass-fed meat and fish! If manufacturers are busy minding their own growth, let your health be your own business too! Stay healthy, keep away from diseases and get rid of menopause symptoms — EAT REAL FOOD!

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With love and gratitude, Gita ♥

Gita is the founder of My Menopause Journey. Since 2014, she has been supporting midlife women by sharing hard-earned learnings from her own experience. To advance her knowledge, Gita puts a lot of her time and effort into understanding the broad spectrum of women’s health. She immerses in extensive research about the physical, mental and emotional aspects of menopause. Gita believes in the life-changing power of healthy, holistic living — this is where she anchors her message to all women. Learn more about her marvelous mission in About us - My Menopause Journey.

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