HEALTHY LIVING — Spend time reading those nutrition labels – Port Arthur News

HEALTHY LIVING – Spend time reading those nutrition labels

Published at 12:04 a.m. on Saturday March 9, 2024

I recently spent over an hour in the first health food store in the Golden Triangle, reading the labels. Lots of labels.

Eventually I gave up and approached one of the super friendly and helpful workers and asked him to direct me to low salt/no salt and no sugar foods. He kind of laughed and told me to go to the produce section.

He was right, and it’s still my advice: walk around the perimeter of the store.

Today’s column is inspired by my husband. This is a heart patient whose doctor told him, “If it tastes good, spit it out” and “only eat cardboard and green vegetables.”

He is also a type 2 diabetic. Shopping is an excruciating adventure every week. A dear friend told me that her shopping takes twice as long now because she spends a lot of time reading those labels.

I’ve been doing this for a long time, over 20 years, with varying degrees of low fat. It is only in recent years that we have added sugar-free and very recently salt-free.

There are no quick and easy products. Nothing prepackaged. And coming up with something tasty with the limited options available became my mission.

Why the store perimeter?

This is where fresh fruits and vegetables, lean meats, fish and eggs are found. It’s also good to buy cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil, REAL butter, and frozen vegetables without sauces or additives.

There are a few alternatives to pasta and rice, made with chickpeas, lentils, and cauliflower, that are actually pretty good. And, if you look closely, there are 1 and 2 grams of loaf sugar in the keto section.

Let’s start at the beginning. Go to your drawer/shelf/spice rack, look at everything in there, read each label carefully, and remove anything that mentions salt anywhere except at the very end of the ingredient list.

It’s amazing how many seasonings are primarily salt. Lemon pepper? Look again, mostly salt.

The good news is that there are many varieties of salt-free spice blends and seasonings. I’ve even found a few well-known brands of Cajun seasoning that are now salt-free. I got these through online shopping, some are readily available at major grocery stores and the first health food store I mentioned earlier.

Additionally, there are all kinds of dried and fresh herbs and spices. Use them, experiment until you find a combination you like.

Do you like green vegetables and don’t know what to do to cook them healthily?

Add the onion, a small pinch of salt-free all-purpose seasoning, red pepper flakes and a little cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil, brown in a pan over medium heat. YUM!

Oven roasted vegetables, drizzled with a little EVOO and herbs, delicious!

Sautéed fish fillets with a little salt-free lime or lemon seasoning and a shake of smoked paprika, served over buttered riced cauliflower, tasty!

Did you know that deviled eggs are healthy and delicious, when you make a small substitution?

Replace the mayonnaise with avocado for extra creaminess. Excellent source of protein and good fats.

The fact is that cooking for special needs takes time, requires a little imagination and a lot of reading labels, as well as more trips to the grocery store to get the freshest fruits and vegetables.

But it is also entirely possible to offer healthy and tasty meals that don’t taste like cardboard. Intimidating at first, but it will soon become second nature to you.

You are only limited by your imagination. Be open to trying new flavors. Go ahead, read some labels, experiment and make something happen.

Stay healthy, my friends.

Jody Holton writes about health for Port Arthur Newsmedia. She can be contacted at

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