Free Resource Sheets to Teach Healthy Eating Habits


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The Ingredients Game

See if you can you match up the ingredient lists with the following foods.

  • Thomas’ Hearty Grains Double Fiber English Muffins
  • Entenmann’s Softees Mini Donuts
  • Nabisco Barnum’s Animal Crackers

It’s pretty hard to do.  Right?

That’s because we’re used to identifying foods from their labels – when we’re at the mercy of the manufacturers’ marketing professionals -- not their ingredients.

If you turn things around, the products  all look basically the same because they’re made from essentially the same ingredients: refined flour, oil and sugar.

And, as Jane E. Brody points out in today’s New York Times article Rules Worth Following, For Everyone’s Sake, once refined flour gets into your body, it’s essentially the same as sugar.  That means all three products are really just sugar -- with some oil and sugar.

Here’s the answer to the game:

  1. Entenmann’s Softees Mini Donuts
  2. Thomas’ Hearty Grains Double Fiber English Muffins
  3. Nabisco Barnum’s Animal Crackers

Here’s another test.  Match up these ingredients with their foods.

Enough said!

Instead of wasting your time reading ingredient lists or nutrition labels, think proportion.

1) Group processed foods together and then make sure these “gems” don’t dominate your kids’ diets.  Instead…

2) Feed your kids real foods most of the time.  Because…

When it comes to teaching kids to eat right, what matters most is the ratio of fresh, natural foods to processed foods that your kids consume.

Although there are some nutritional differences between processed products, what they have in common is way more important for shaping how your kids eat. 

  • Processed foods all have essentially the same taste, texture, aroma and appearance and none of them are at all like broccoli, asparagus, mushrooms, melon, apples, or pears.

It’s what your kids get used to that dictates what other foods they’ll accept.  It’s all about their habits.

Read Why Nobody Needs Nutrition Labels.

~ Changing the conversation from nutrition to habits. ~


Note: I wish I could say I thought this game up, but I pilfered (and modified) it from the folks at the Center for Science in the Public Interest.   If you aren’t familiar with this group, and you are interested in nutrition, the politics of the food industry and the truth, you should check them out. You can find them at  I subscribe to their wonderful, bimonthly newsletter NutritionAction.

Sources: Product Labels; Center for Science in the Public Interest. "Name that Food." Nutrition Action Healthletter. January/February, 2010. pp. 10-11; Brody, Jane E. "Rules Worth Following, For Everyone's Sake." New York Times. accessed 2/2/2010.


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    It's Not About Nutrition - Blog - The Ingredients Game

Reader Comments (3)

I loved playing this game in the latest issue of Nutrition Action! Love your spin on it as well. It's amazing how difficult it was to distinguish donuts from chips when you turn to ingredients. Well shared, Dina!

February 2, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterLiz


Thanks for your comment. Isn't it amazing how similar the products look when you just see the ingredient lists? I was surprised even though I write about this stuff and examine products all the time. I love the Nutrition Action newsletter and wish it came out more frequently!


February 3, 2010 | Registered CommenterDina Rose

Nutrition Action is my favorite newsletter. I got a few right when 'playing' this game when reading the article, but it was suprisingly (or not) really hard to distinguish between what appear to be very different foods when only looking at the ingredients. It's great that you shared this with your readers Dina. If anyone out there reads this blog but doesn't subscribe to Nutrion Action, you should!

February 4, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDorothy

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