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Wellness Hack: Reading Labels

Wellness Hack: Reading Labels

A common, nutrition-related fear that I hear come up in practice all the time centers around feeling overwhelmed navigating ingredients on food labels. Indeed, it can be a dense realm as processed foods compile a majority of foods on the shelves in grocery stores. If your goal is to minimize your exposure to processed foods and the unknown and possible negative effects that processed foods contain, here’s a generally good rule of thumb. Simple, straightforward, and hopefully an empowering place to start. We’ll discuss for about interpreting food labels and Nutrition 101 in another article, but this “Wellness Hack” involves this simple rule:

“If you can’t pronounce the ingredient or it’s a ‘chemistry’ word, it’s probably best to avoid it.”

This is a great rule of thumb, because the more ingredients you don’t recognize as whole foods (i.e. apples, cinnamon, oats) the more processed it likely is. Some examples of these chemistry-like terms include the following ingredients : sucralose, modified, hydrogenated, carrageenan, sodium nitrate, blue 1, sugar alcohols, high-fructose corn syrup, bleached.

When in doubt, err on the side of doing a quick Google search or similar superficial dive. If there’s an ingredient that you don’t recognize as a whole food right away, it’s a good rule of thumb to check to make an empowered decision. You may also choose to reach out to a wellness professional or company that you trust to ask about some of these ingredients.


About the Author

Dr. Kenny Mittelstadt, DACM, DC, L.Ac., Dipl.OM.

Kenny Mittelstadt is a functional health practitioner and acupuncturist based in San Antonio, Texas. He is trained through the Institute for Functional Medicine and received both of his doctorate degrees with highest honors from Southern California University of Health Sciences. He focuses on empowering patients through wellness education and root-cause healing – transforming health through personalized, lab-based functional medicine programs!


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