Busy Moms: Reading Nutrition Facts Labels and Ingredients Lists
I bet there are some of you out there reading the last few posts about hidden sugars in food and the different names for sugars in our foods who are thinking, “Sure, it is all well and good for HER to say to read the labels in the grocery store, but I’m just too busy for that!”
Hey, I’m busy, too! I also don’t have time to stand around reading labels all day. And when I am in the grocery store, I am shopping with a 1 year old and a 2 & 1/2 year old who are generally pulling each others’ hair or yanking products off every shelf they pass. I am as harassed a mum as any of you (or possibly more so… I can be quite a mess at times!). As mums, we tend to look at other mums who have “got it together” and think we are the only ones who can’t handle everything all at once. Well, if you’re one of those moms who can do everything all at once and perfectly, good for you! I’m waiting (impatiently) to hear your secret. I, for one, am a busy, rushed, messy mom of two little boys hell-bent on making a mess (and the wife of one rather big boy hell bent on making even more of a mess).
So, how do busy mums like us make time to read nutrition labels, ingredients lists, and health facts on boxes, bags, and packages at the store?
Well, if we try to read them all at once, we certainly will not succeed. Firstly, it would take hours. Secondly, we’d be unable to remember which product label said what. And thirdly, it would be such a daunting task that we simply would not even begin, let alone following through. But if we’re not going to jump in head first, how can we be responsible moms, keep our families healthy, and read all those darn food labels?!
Simple: Take it one label at a time. That’s right, read one food label each trip to the store.
Most of us have standard sets of grocery items we buy week in, week out. We know what brand of cereal we like (or which one is most frequently on sale). We buy the same canned vegetables, the same snacks for our picky kids, the same baby food or formula.
This method has lots of benefits:
- If you read one label from a normal purchase every time you go to the store, you’ll only add a minute or two to your shopping time, which is anyway what you’re probably spending waiting in line.
- You’re more likely to remember what you’ve read about each product when you’ve only read one label.
- You have time to think about what you’ve read over the next day or week until your next trip to the store. You can decide to stick with what you normally buy, or try something new. But you won’t have to make a snap decision. You can even talk it over with your partner or kids in the intervening time.
- Eventually, you will get through all of your regular purchases. So what if it takes a year? It’s better to take it slowly and complete your goal than to feel overwhelmed and crash and burn before you even start.
- After regular practice, you’ll become an old pro at reading labels and you’ll be able to read and understand them much more quickly and completely.
YES, reading labels can seem tedious, time consuming, or overwhelming. But they really do not need to be. The key to success is not a huge time investment, rather simple consistency. With this advice, I hope you will soon feel confident about reading labels and that this will help you feel like an even better provider for your family than you already are!