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4 Tips to Buying Healthy Food

Unsuspecting smuggled ingredients can derail your healthy eating by stimulating appetite, hunger and cravings! These 4 tips all start with the letter “F” and will help you when shopping for packaged foods so you can avoid unnecessary sugars, stimulants, fakes and fillers. In this two-part series, we’ll start with the first two things you need to know! And you’ll find examples and recommendations to help clarify too.

#1 Flavor variations most commonly include added sugar, additional additives and stimulants. And if it isn’t “cane sugar”, you’ll likely find other popular flavor enhancers like monosodium glutamate or MSG, and some form of yeast or yeast extract. All of these additives promote appetite, hunger and cravings because they function more like a stimulant. 

Flavor examples: Nuts, canned beans or legumes featuring “spicy” as a variety. Yogurt, milk or dairy with any flavor, including vanilla. Even potato or tortilla chips become even less healthy when flavored with a variation like “sour cream and onion” or “jalapeño”. 


Flavor Recommendation: Avoid added flavors, add your own. In the case of beans and legumes, add your own spice. To dairy, add your own fresh or frozen fruit. To flavor chips, make your own dip. If you want variety or added flavor, add it yourself with spices and other fresh ingredients. See my recipes for great flavor ideas! Or triple check the list of ingredients to be sure there are no added fillers, fakes, sugars, monosodium glutamate or yeast extracts.  


#2 Fat is especially common in dairy products. And it’s easy to forget that diary products like milk and butter are commonly used in baked goods, sauces, condiments and salad dressings. Real fat, from fruit and animals is generally healthier than the substitutes added when manufacturers “reduce or remove” the fat. Because then they need to replace it with a substitute. And it’s the fat substitutes that are used to “fill-in”. 

Fat examples: all dairy such as, creamers, milk, yogurt, cheeses. Baked goods include breads, crackers, chips, tortillas, cakes, and cookies. Sauces, condiments and salad dressings. These products over process and remove fat by offering low to no-fat or fat-free options, avoid them all!


Fat Recommendation: Always buy full fat options. The more fat, the less processed the food, which is healthier. And when the full fat is included, it's less likely you'll find fillers, but you still need to always read the list of ingredients. Because some manufacturers will add fillers & gums to "stretch" the product and increase their profit. That’s why, I use full-fat heavy whipping cream as a coffee-creamer. Full fat yogurt typically 5% and other cheeses like cottage cheese range 4-5% fat. Some packages may say “whole milk” which is an indication of full fat. Avoid reduced fat, no-fat, fat-free to avoid fillers. 


Bottom line real foods satisfy real nutritional needs. Fake foods and fillers don’t satisfy real hunger and in most cases they can stimulate hunger, cravings and appetite, which can lead to over-eating. Always read the list of ingredients. Never trust, always verify! 

Next week: read part 2 of this series for the final 2 "F"s! 

For more information on this topic: 

Ovvia Members see the video library and watch the 10 videos in the Nutrition Series: Fiber, Protein and Fat. Sugar Sabotage category includes 3 videos. And series 5 videos in the “Hunger vs. Cravings” series. 

Podcast episodes that are free to all include: “Why You Can’t Stop Eating” and “Sensible Substitutes”. 


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