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Gain One, Lose One - Habit Two

This weeks habit to gain is nice and simple, theoretically. Read nutrition labels. That is it. Nice and simple. I’m not telling you to stop eating anything or change anything about your current diet. I’m simply encouraging you to work on becoming aware of what exactly your putting in your body. If you're thinking “yeah…no thanks. I would rather not know.” You’re not alone. Reality is, we don’t want to know. Let me guess, that thought was followed up with “well, I’ve made it this far without reading labels, why start now.” Because statistics tell us we are not fairing as well as we think we are.

The following statistics are from an article I found here,

*Chronic diseases are the leading cause of death and disability in the United States, causing 7 out of 10 deaths each year. Heart disease, cancer, and stroke alone cause more than 50% of all deaths each year.

*In 2008, 107 million Americans—almost 1 out of every 2 adults age 18 or older—had at least 1 of 6 reported chronic illnesses:

  • Cardiovascular disease

  • Arthritis

  • Diabetes

  • Asthma

  • Cancer

  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)

Going back, one can see that it states 1 out every 2 adults! That is a staggering number. It also reports at least 1, meaning some people have more than 1 of the 6 listed chronic diseases. Unfortunately, we’re not okay and we’re not even truly surviving. We all know many of these diseases can be linked back to dieting habits.

Habits, that if they had been changed, may have prevented the disease.

This is a BIG topic and there is much more information and science to read to fully understand what is happening here. But there is one step you can take immediately. Pay attention to your labels! Understand what you're putting in your body. How many ingredients are you consuming that you can’t even pronounce? I understand some ingredients are healthy that we can't pronounce, like Dihydrogen Monoxide (which is water). They key is to start to ask questions like, why is this ingredient listed and why does it need to be in here? Can you find a similar product with less ingredients and more that you can actually identify?

When it comes to making this easier, here are the things I look for and the things I avoid.

First, I look for products with very few ingredients. The less ingredients there are, the closer to a whole food the item is! Second, I look for ingredients I can identify. If I’m not sure what something is or why it might need to be in a product, I simply put it back on the shelf until I can do some research on it. Then I can make an informed decision on whether or not I want that ingredient in my body. Third, I look for sugar. Products that have sugars, real or even artificial sweeteners added into them, I typically put back as well! I’m not talking, does it have 0 grams of sugar. While I try not to go crazy, I am okay with natural sugars. For example, honey, dates, and almost all fruits are extremely high in sugar. Its the processed and refined sugar that I am mostly concerned with. The prevalence of sugar in our food is shocking. Did you know sugar is the third ingredient in ketchup!?! Maybe I am alone in recently discovering this and being completely shocked, but it proves my point that sugar is sneaking into everything.

Also, don’t be fooled by labels that show low to zero grams of sugar and don’t list sugar in the ingredients list. Sucralose, the sneaky artificial substitute is actually equally as dangerous. Sucralose (splenda) has been advertised as our solutions to still eating the sweets we love in a healthier way. I hate to be the one to break the news to you, but its not true. If you simple google “the side effects of sucralose” you’ll find an alarming number of articles on how bad this substance truly is. The following image is taken from an article on

There are many more ingredients I avoid when I look at labels. But, for the sake of simplicity lets focus on what I have already covered. Tim Ferriss has said, ““People tend to abandon the good system they’ll follow in search of the perfect system that they will quit.” Which is why I try to make all these tips simple and easy to follow. One step and one habit at a time.

Recap for today:

Step 1: Read your nutrition labels

Step 2: Try to find products with fewer ingredients

Step 3: Try to buy products with ingredients you recognize

Step 4: Work on avoiding all ADDED sugars, both real and artificial.

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