Nutrition panels and ingredient lists

Get to know what you are eating…

Photo credit: Foodiesfeed

Food science can make us believe that nutrition is limited to the calories and macronutrients which make them up: fats, carbohydrates and proteins. Yet real food that comes from the earth, the kind your ancestors would recognize, is more complex than this.

It contains vitamins and minerals (micronutrients) essential for every function in your body including the digestion and assimilation of the food that you eat. When we limit our understanding of food to a panel, and believe this is all our body needs, we are shortchanging our health.

The problem starts when we take food apart and strip away it’s vitality. When we eat this type of food, it often leaves our body asking where’s the rest. This contributes to an overfed, overweight and undernourished population. If food maintains its integrity, you can often eat almost anything.  Listen to the short video below to learn more.

Ingredients list

Skip the panel and read the ingredients list. This will provide you with a true sense of how you are nourishing your body. The shorter the list the better. Whole, minimally processed foods contribute to vital health. Unrecognizable substances sporting chemical names don’t.

Below are two yogourts sold in Quebec.  The second one is one of the top-selling brands in this province.  Of the two, which one do you think will be easier for your body to digest and absorb?

Saugeen County

Nonhomogenized whole milk, live cultures, acidophilus and bifidus

popular national brand

Skim milk, cream, sugar, water, modified corn starch, skim milk powder, fructose, whey protein concentrate, gelatin, lactase, natural flavour, active probiotic culture and active bacterial cultures, natural colour, vitamin D3, malik acid.

Think of other prepackaged foods you eat regularly (including some of the seemingly healthy ones) and the cumulative effect of eating foods which have a laundry list of ingredients that your grandparents would not recognize.

The synergistic whole of plant food – an example

“The naturally sweet foods from which sugar is extracted-sugar beet, sugar cane and corn- are particularly high in nutrients such as B vitamins, magnesium, and chromium. All of these seem to play an important role in the blood sugar regulation mechanism. These nutrients are discarded-or made into animal feed-when the raw product is refined into sugar. Refining strips foods of vital nutrients while concentrating sugars, thus allowing us to fulfill our body’s energy requirements without obtaining the nutrients needed for bodybuilding, digestion and repair.”1

Think of all the foods that contain this type of sugar.  The second yogourt in the example above has: sugar and fructose (“commercially, fructose is derived from sugar cane, sugar beets, and maize”).2

 Where to start

If this is new to you, you are in for a treat. Montreal has a great food scene, you can visit one of the many public markets and get to know the local farmers. You can sign-up for a food basket, or visit your local organic grocery store, such as Ecollegey in NDG, who have knowledgeable staff to answer your questions.

I also find cold weather conducive to cooking; it’s the perfect time to nest, develop and/or expand cooking skills. Make some soup, roast vegetables or anything else that might warm you up.  Food 52, gathers some of the best recipes on the web – take a look Food52 soup, Food 52 roast vegetables.

Happy cooking!



1 Fallon Sally, Nourishing Traditions (2004). Carbohydrates (p 24). New Trends Publishing: Washington DC, Print.


2 Replies to “Nutrition panels and ingredient lists”

  1. Wow, this is a “knowledge-nutrients rich” article with solid information and several excellent references pointing to good eating practices and quality local sources.
    Tastes good and good for us, can’t beat this combo meal.
    Thank you.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *