Health is a primary concern for any mother with a family. We are always making sure that they are getting adequate nutrition by providing well-balanced meals full of veggies and proteins and light snacks low on sugar and other non-essentials. Normally, when shopping at the grocery store, I immediately begin scanning the nutrition bar on whatever item I pick up. If the calories and sugar content are low and my family loves it, then I toss it in the cart. However, I rarely look at the items primary ingredients.
Obesity and poor nutrition is a widespread problem in the U.S. Nearly one third of all children are considered obese, and most of these kids aren’t overweight because they gorge themselves on a daily basis, it’s because of the nutritional content of their food. Sure, I’m dodging a bullet by reducing my kids’ sugar consumption, and making sure that they get daily exercise, but I haven’t actually began reading the primary ingredients of certain products I give them until recently.
I was watching TV one night when a commercial for dog food came on. Nothing unusual, and I almost began my frantic 5 minute only-during-commercials clean up routine when a comment from the commercial stuck with me: “The primary ingredients of my dog’s food were corn meal and chicken by-product.” The dog trainer on the commercial reminded the dog owner that this is always why we check ingredients first.
How backwards, I thought. We are willing to check the primary ingredients in our dog’s kibble before we even check the content of our own food? The only time I have really checked ingredients is when I am looking at fruit juices to make sure that I am getting a brand that really does have fruit juice in it. I was a little disturbed. I didn’t want to be feeding my kids, or myself, food of poor quality so instead of finishing my show, I raided the pantry.
I was down right appalled. Some of my family’s favorites which boasted titles such as Au Gratin potatoes or Macaroni and Cheese, didn’t have potatoes or cheese listed as their primary ingredients. I know that whole foods are always better, but not everyone has the time to fully prepare such food at every meal and I had expected the food industry to understand this by providing moms with nutritious meals and fix-ins. I was wrong, and my next trip to the grocery store took twice as long as it normally did.
In addition to all nutrition labels, I also checked out the ingredients list. If it didn’t have something I recognized or items that the title boasted in the first three spots, I didn’t buy it. What I was able to find, however, was a whole bunch of other products that were similar to the ones my family love at an affordable price with better nutritional content. That meant more fiber and protein in my family’s diet which are needed to maintain healthy bodies.
I felt so much better about restocking my pantry with more wholesome foods, but have to admit that it was a little funny to think that a dog food commercial had prompted me to rethink my shopping. Next time you go to the store, look at the primary ingredients of your family’s favorites. You may be surprise to find that a different brand may offer better nutrition which can result in your family being healthier and lighter with very little effort.