Nothing beats the PLN community. One of our users posted a question with a picture of an ingredients list that led to some great discussion and thinking. As a result we are giving you a guide for choosing the best additions to your meals. Whether you are prepping your own food or customizing your Project Lean Nation meal, here’s what you need to know about condiments, sauces and all things tasty!

Read the Label

Rule number one is the only rule. READ THE LABEL.That is where you will find everything you need to know. It isn’t what you look like, but what you’re made of that matters – the same goes for food. We can’t say mayonnaise is bad and barbecue sauce is good (truly both are bad and both are good depending on the circumstance). What we can say is chemicals are bad and quality ingredients are good. When looking at the label pay attention to the following:

  • Ingredients List

    When looking at the list make sure you understand everything it says. If there are gigantic, foreign words on there, chances are they aren’t real food and you should always shoot for real food over chemically processed derivatives of food. Beware though, some foreign real foods can have strange names such as “aquafaba” a chickpea liquid used in Vegan mayonnaise. Another good rule of thumb when reading the ingredients list is too stick to something short. You know the saying “KISS: Keep it Simple Sweetheart.” To keep your heart happy and your body healthy, simple lists with minimal amounts of quality ingredients are best. The ingredients list is also prioritized by amount, so the first thing listed is the primary make up of the food.

  • Serving Sizes

    Marketing is tricky and almost magical with its use of sleight of hand. Don’t be duped by the serving size. If you’re looking at the calorie count and daily percentages of macronutrients, be sure to compare objectively. This was highlighted in the Srichacha discussion that prompted the post, it was noted on the label that there were less than 1 gram of carbohydrates and 0% of the daily percentage of sugar, but the label listed sugar as the second ingredient. At first glance this seems like a good option, but in reality the percentages were based on a teaspoon for a serving size. A teaspoon of sauce? Good luck with that!

 

Portions

Once your favorite sauce passes the label test, it’s time to be serious about portion sizes. Barbecue sauce, mayonnaise, mustard and other favorites should all go by the popular Pringles slogan, “Once you pop, you can’t stop!” It’s hard to pull back when your favorite topping is pouring onto your food, but it’s necessary.

  • Moderation

All good things are bad when not used in moderation. Take something non-food related like exercise. It is a great addition to a healthy lifestyle, but if you do it too much it can lead to injury, take away from your personal time, and destroy your hormonal balance. Food has all of the same pitfalls if not monitored. That’s why we add flavor to your PLN meals, to avoid the need for moderation. Yet, if you choose to add some flavor, then it is important to read the label and make sure you’re not undoing all of the hard work you’ve put in by loading up on saturated fats, sugars, or inflammatory grains hiding under other names such as: malt, kamut, spelt, einkorn, emmer or farina.

  • Triggers

As an individual it is essential to recognize your habits. Are you someone that can eat a little and then abstain, or are you someone who has a taste and it opens the floodgates? If you get an inch and take a mile, it’s best to make your portion sizes 0. Avoid adding condiments and sauces to your dishes until you’ve met your goals and developed new, healthy habits.

Flavors for Your Foods

In the end it is integral to remember your goals. If you are looking to make big changes or have immediate results, then you need to be more strict. That shouldn’t be a problem though, because quality meals are designed with a variety of flavor profiles to keep you engaged with eating them. On the other hand, if you’re just trying to get healthier day by day, then feel free to spice it up with your own unique flavor enhancers. Remember, it is about quality of life both in the journey and the end result. Getting leaner is a means to the end of enjoying life – it isn’t about the number on the scale or the label.

Resources

Although we couldn’t give you a list of what to eat and what not to eat, since it’s more about what the food is made of than the food itself, here are some resources that give a little more specifics. Be warned though, the writers of these lists may have been paid to offer their suggestions so take everything with a grain of salt (Himalayan, naturally sourced salt that is 😉 ). The 17 Best and Worst Condiments 25 Best and Worst Condiments The Basics of the Nutrition Facts Label  In Health, TEAM PLN

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