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Ingredient Labels: What You Need to Know?

Ingredient Labels: What You Need to Know Now

For starters, we applaud you for even taking an interest in the topic of understanding ingredient labels. So many people today are so overly concerned with calories, carbs, or other items on the nutrition labels of food that they forget to check the basics: the ingredients!

Yes, you may want to track calories or carbs as well, but the real power lies in reading the ingredients and knowing what you are putting into your body.


What on Earth Are You Eating? A Quick Guide to Understanding Ingredient Labels

Reading Ingredient Labels from Darin Stricker on Vimeo.

The Basics

Before you can become a food label expert, you’ll need to define what you do and don’t want for your body. Our best suggestions for optimal health are no gluten, no dairy, minimal sugars, and nothing artificial. Once you’ve honed in on those concepts, you can begin the process of dissecting the nutrition facts, and more importantly, the ingredients of your foods.

Start by reminding yourself that eating as close to a natural diet as possible is best. A natural diet means quality meats, organic vegetables, fresh fruits, and nuts. If you stick to these items, you will have to do little to no ingredient label research, which makes life (and grocery shopping) a lot simpler! With that said, we live in a world right now that tends to make this concept easier said than done. We are surrounded by bags, boxes, and cans of processed and artificial foods. Because of this, we must be able to read nutrition facts and ingredient labels and recognize the red flags.

Ingredient Label Red Flags

Ingredients you can’t pronounce

If you can’t pronounce the ingredient, you likely don’t know what it is, which means it probably isn’t healthy for you. Steer clear of these items as they usually are not real foods and have little to no nutritional value.

Ingredients you’ve never heard of before. 

If you’ve never heard of the ingredient, in all likelihood, it is bad for your body. Calmly place this item back where it came from and step away. Or, at the very least, bust out that smartphone and do a quick google search to find out what the ingredient is and take it from there.

The terms ‘artificial flavorings’ or even ‘natural flavorings’.

These terms, especially ‘artificial flavorings’, should make you raise an eyebrow. These items are flavor enhancers, and food manufacturers are not required to expose what exactly those enhancers are. You have no idea what you are getting. These ‘flavorings’ could mean anything, from salt and pepper to diacetyl, which is often used as a butter flavor but is thought to trigger Alzheimer’s. It is best not to risk eating foods that are enhanced with natural or artificial flavors.  Also, according to the FDA (The Food And Drug Administration),  the word natural has no real meaning.  There is no clear definition of natural, and therefore what is labeled as such may or may not be natural.

More than five ingredients listed.

If there are more than say, 5-8 ingredients listed, you should probably put the item back on the shelf. More ingredients usually mean more room for additives and preservatives and less room for real food.

Sugars and all the forms and variations. 

Sugars are not so sweet for your health.  You need to make sure you can recognize all the names.  Sugars are disguised as sugar, cane sugar, dextrose, fructose, glucose, sucrose, molasses, agave, and fruit juice, to name just a few.

The big takeaway here should be obvious: if you don’t understand or recognize what an item is that is listed in the ingredients of food, don’t buy it and don’t eat it. At the very least, don’t do so until you’ve researched and fully understand what it is you would be eating.

Knowledge is key here, and once you fully dive into healthy eating, reading and understanding a nutrition and ingredient label will become second nature.

So go ahead, be one of those people who stands in the aisle reading labels and attempting to understand what they are purchasing.  Your body and mind will thank you later.

At Well Pared, we care a lot about what goes into what we offer you. You can rest assured – we know the ingredients, and can give it to you with full confidence that you are feeding your body well!


Best Regards,


Nicole Griffith 


 Well Pared | 605 24th St. W. Ste. 4 | Billings, MT 59102

PH: (406) 534-3170 | C: (406) 672-2022 |

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