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Front of food boxes doesn’t always match back labels

When in search of food that fits your healthy lifestyle, always remember to read over labels thoroughly.

I was reminded of this lesson the other day. See, the missus loves her mac and cheese, so while I was doing some grocery shopping, I thought I might try to find some with whole wheat noodles.

After scanning over what seemed like a hundred different variations of Kraft mac and cheese, along with the store’s brand, I finally found what I was looking for on the far end of the display.

Taking up one row was a box of mac and cheese made by a company that makes real, 100 percent whole wheat pasta.

I picked up two boxes, thinking I might get an award for husband of the year, and started walking away.

I made it halfway down the aisle when a little voice told me to take a look at the back of the box.

There was no surprise when I saw that the lone ingredient for the pasta was 100 percent whole wheat, but I couldn’t believe what was listed first for the cheese – enriched and bleached whole wheat flour.

This makes no sense, I thought, and read over the ingredients again just to be sure.

Stunned, I turned and headed back down the aisle to put the boxes back. Sadly, I left the store without any mac and cheese.

During the “90 Day Commit to Get Fit” program, we spent one of our weekly classes going over food labels and discussing how to tell if grains were really whole wheat, or if something had trans fat, even though it claimed not to.

It was an eye-opening class, and it still drives me crazy to think that food companies are allowed to fudge what’s really in their product.

There are a few things to remember when reading labels.

If you’re buying something that says it’s whole wheat or whole grains, make sure it actually says it in the ingredients. Stay away from things that are enriched.

If something claims to have no trans fats, and the ingredients include something hydrogenated, it’s got a small enough amount of trans fat that whoever makes it can get away with saying it doesn’t.

And remember, if the ingredients list reads like someone scrambled the alphabet and took out most of the vowels, you probably should just stay away.

Joe Marchilena writes a weekly fitness column for Hampshire Hills. To find out more information about the “90 Day Commit to Get Fit” program, call 603-673-7123 or email hhinfo@hampshirehills.com.