1) Be prepared to open your eyes and expand your mind –Food staples that you may have thought to be healthy may not be so wonderful after all.
- Food: Trader Joe’s Salsa, a product we buy often received a low rating. Why? Because it was low in vitamin C, which is unusual since tomatoes are typically high in Vitamin C. You might ask, what makes it so low? Well, there are a number of possibilities, including poor soil quality. I’ve read about the possibility of fungicides in the soil, which lower the vitamin quality of the tomatoes. If this were the case, it would have been enough of a reason for me to switch salsa brands. Our family typically buys organic or local tomatoes in an effort to avoid ones grown in regions where the weather is not conducive to tomato production and/or fungicides are used.
- The result of our discovery -switching to organic salsa or choosing one of the alternative options Fooducate recommends
2) Narrow down food selections before you begin to scan within a food category:
- It helps to know some basic facts about the foods you are interested in purchasing before scanning. For example, why even start scanning crackers before you’ve eliminated the ones that have added sugar. You want to avoid crackers that have sugar because you are likely to eat more of them. When scanning cereals, narrow your options down to those with less than 6 grams of sugar per serving. When choosing pasta brands, scan 100% whole grain brands first. As a nutrition counselor, when using this app with clients, I try to offer some basic guidelines first. This will help them avoid scanning too many options.
3) Consider what’s best for you or your client when two options receive high scores.
- A pasta brand like Dream Field that contains enriched semolina may get an A- because it has 5 grams fiber per serving, whereas a brand like Ancient Harvest Quinoa pasta that is 100% whole grain may also get an A-. Although they both rate high with Fooducate, always choose the option that has the most whole grain if you enjoy the taste of whole grains.
4) Read on, there’s more than just the letter grade!
- Be sure to scroll down the page to view product details, as you may find out some interesting facts about the foods you love. For example, all Trader Joe’s branded products are non-genetically modified. You can educate yourself on the variety of names of sugar alcohols, or share tips with your clients, like cooking pasta “al dente” to lower the glycemic index of your meal, or checking ingredient features noted to make sure a food doesn’t have sulfates.
5) Remind yourself that many B-rated foods are okay for every day
- Lightly salted Lundberg Organic Brown rice cakes are healthy yet get a B rating. These cakes can be an excellent substitute for bread. They are tasty and convenient, (no toasting involved) and are perfect when topped with heirloom tomatoes, avocado, hummus and fresh basil for a quick and healthy lunch. Unless the rating was lower than a B-, don’t second guess your intuition. Use Fooducate in conjunction with your food knowledge and sources like SuperKids Nutrition to guide yourself and/or your family in making healthier choices.