Always. read. the label.

Far too often our diet is littered with all kinds of things we’re unknowingly eating – sugar, additives, preservatives and goodness knows what else. We pop something in the trolley at the supermarket, feeling pretty confident that it’s good for us. A quick scratch below the surface soon tends to prove otherwise.

Faileo jar This post hopefully goes some way to help us clean up our store cupboards once and for all.

  • One of the easiest ways to avoid the trap of hidden ingredients is single ingredient foods – namely something that hasn’t had anything suspicious added to it. Fresh, whole foods – uncooked meats and fish, eggs, fruit, vegetables, nuts and seeds. Of course be mindful of where you’re sourcing meat from in particular to check the animal itself hasn’t been subjected to any nasty types of feed or antibiotics
  • Would you eat a spoonful of…. Calcium Disodium EDTA? Potassium Chloride? Citric Acid? Sulphite Ammonia Caramel? I could go on and on (unfortunately). The point I’m making here is if someone suggested you eat a spoonful of this unrecognisable substance you probably wouldn’t do it. So why eat it when it’s hidden in a jar of something?
  • The longer the list of ingredients, the less likely you are to want to eat it – if you need a magnifying glass to read the label that’s usually a sign that the manufacturer is trying to hide something
  • In the UK, ingredients have to be listed in order of their quantities. So for example, the ingredient listed first will appear in that product in a far higher quantity than the last ingredient
  • Unlikely suspects – meat’s just meat, right? When I first cleaned up my diet one of the biggest things to surprise me was the additions to cooked meat. I thought I’d hit jackpot to find the supermarket nearest my office stocking organic cooked turkey breast. I thought I’d check the back of the packet one day. The ingredients read “German breast of organic turkey, salt, organic sugar, gelling agent carrageenan. Prepared with 114g of turkey per 100g of product.” I have no idea what that carrageenan-wotsit is, but I didn’t buy it again…
  • Is there a cartoon on the box? It tends to be there for a reason. To seduce innocent unsuspecting kids to want to eat it and nag their parents to buy it. Cartoons are usually synonymous with ‘sugar loaded’. If something is loaded with sugar, it makes it more addictive. And in support of the cartoon, it makes little Johnny want it more and more
  • Get to know the good guys – they have your best interests at heart. Here are some all time favourites in our house. These manufacturers lead by a wonderful, clear labeling, epic ingredients example:

good guys jars

–       Coyo: this dreamy, creamy coconutty immenseness as good as transports you to a tropical beach, even when you’re having lunch at your desk

–       Meridian Almond Butter: this beauty packs a gloopy, delicious, good fat punch. And makes me extra specially happy that 99.5% of this jar contains almonds

–       Booja-Booja (especially the truffles): little to say on this other than nothing in the world (yip, big statement, I know) compares to the incredibleness of these beauties

–       Seggiano: these guys manage to do everything that so many other condiment manufacturers don’t. The raw basil pesto might just change your life – and your fish and your chicken – forever

What has surprised you most about the ingredients of some of your ‘favourites’?