SPECIAL REPORT: Healthy, not healthy?

Healthy, or not

TYLER (KYTX) - If you made a resolution for the New Year, and you've manage to keep it, congratulations!

Many of us vowed to lose weight, the most popular resolution.

But with all of the "healthy" food options out there, which is right for you?

How often does it happen to you?

You walk into the store armed with your grocery list, hoping to make the right choices, only to be bombarded with labels that can be confusing.

For some people, it's almost too much.

That's why you need a solid plan.

When Michelle Melton hits the isles for groceries, she has a plan in place to find the best choices for her family, with 3 growing sons.

"One of our New Year's resolutions was to make healthier choices when eating. I try to pick stuff that's lower in sugar or lower in fat. Whole wheat type pastas, things like that," says Melton.

So she checks labels and compares products.

"I just try to make choices based on what I know," says Melton.

But what's lurking on the isles, labels reading: low fat, no sugar added, natural, light and organic, can be mind boggling.

"Sometimes you can look at something and it says that it's sugar free, but then you look at the calories or what's in it and it's not necessarily healthier," says Melton.

"If there's a low calorie, low fat food, they're taking some nutrients away. So in order to make it taste good, they have to add some other components," says Courtney McFarlin is a registered dietician with Trinity Mother Frances.

She says it's a tricky game, and some labels aren't as regulated as others.

Natural and organic don't have the same regulations from the food and drug administration.

Because of that, you need to do your own research.

"I would suggest researching the company, seeing what the company's farming techniques are, how they get the food from the farm to the store," says McFarlin.

And always make an effort to read the fine print on the boxes.

Look for fiber, carbohydrate and protein information.

"Always need to be aware of the calories as a whole of that food, rather than focusing on one aspect of the food," says McFarlin.

Say you're looking for something really fast and easy you can just toss into your kids lunch box, something like fruit snacks.

They say they're certified organic, but the best advice is to just turn that box over and look for those top five ingredients to make sure it's something you want to be putting into your kids bodies.

"If the first couple of ingredients are sugar, or a derivative of sugar, probably be a low nutrient dense food," says McFarlin.

And of course McFarlin says the best way to avoid confusion: just stick with whole fruits and vegetables.

Leaving you armed with a little more knowledge, like Melton, who's just trying to keep her boys healthy and well fed.

"Portion wise, they eat as much as my husband and it depends on if it's their favorite food or not," says Melton.

We know it's a lot to digest, but another piece of advice from McFarlin: look at the nutritional information on the back of the box and use the 5-20 rule.

That means if it's under 5 percent, it's a low source, and if it's over 20 percent, it's high.

All in all, it's really about what you're comfortable with when you sit down at the dinner table.

The FDA also provides guidelines for those food labels.

To see them, click here.


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