When you first get on a diet, especially one that is calorie restricted, you’ll find that you are pretty limited when it comes to food choices. For many, it’s simply easier to take advantage of prepackaged meals. While these are expensive, there is a lot to be said for convenience, and for having everything spelled out for you. But are these foods actually bad for you? Just because it’s prepackaged, doesn’t mean that it is safe. You need to read those labels and make sure that what you are putting into your body is actually healthy. Here are some warning signs to watch out for.
1. Sodium content.
Most of us don’t bat an eye when it comes to cracking open a can of soup, or even a can of nice vegetables. They are so low in calories, they have to be good for us, right? Did you know that one simple can of soup can have more than your entire day’s allotment of sodium? The average adult needs less than 2400 mg of sodium per day, but the average American ingests way more than that.
Prepackaged diet food is a common offender when it comes to overdoing it on the salt. They have to make it taste good somehow, right? Now, some sodium is good for you, after all, your body does need it need for vital functions. But too much sodium is also very bad for you. It leads to excess water retention, and has been blamed for high blood pressure and a host of other problems.
The key is reading that label and seeing just how much sodium is in one serving. Remember, if you eat the whole thing, you’ll need to multiply that number by the amount of servings to get an idea of the exact amount of sodium that you are eating. Try to stick to the 2400 mg a day suggestion, or go a little less.
Prepackaged foods are typically loaded with different preservatives and some of them can be harmful, especially if you are sensitive to them. MSG is probably the biggest offender and it has been blamed for everything from weight gain, to migraines and increased blood pressure. Even if you are not sensitive to MSG, it’s a good idea to limit your exposure to it.
Check for other common names such as autolyzed yeast and disodium guaylonlate. This is a cheaper form of MSG, but it contains the same makeup. In fact, many MSG “free” soups will contain either of these ingredients and if you are sensitive, you may have the same reactions.
BHT is another common preservative and that can be found in everything from breakfast cereal to deodorant. In those that are sensitive to this additive, it may cause vertigo and other health issues. It’s best to try to limit your exposure to this preservative as well.
Remember, just because something says that it is natural or good for you, doesn’t mean that it is