Follow my simple Rule of 5's.
1. Try to limit fats to 5 grams or less per serving.
2. Limit sugar to 5 grams or less per serving.
3. Choose foods with 5 grams or more of protein.
4. Choose foods with 5 grams or more of fiber.
5. Select foods with a total 5 or less ingredients that are unprocessed.
Depending on what you are eating, a product may not meet all the guidelines. But if it meets a few, that's better than none at all.
For example, peanut butter has 16 grams of total fat, which is not ideal. But it's not all bad. It contains 7 grams of protein, just 3 grams of sugar, and the ingredients list is short with peanuts being the primary component. So if you are limiting your fat intake otherwise, peanut butter is not going to hurt you.
Another example that a lot of people ask me about is granola/protein bars. It is amazing how much difference there can be in ingredients when you take the time to read the label.
One popular bar only has 140 calories, however it contains 18 grams of sugar! Other bars can have up to 250 calories (which may seem like a lot) but have a lot more "bang for the buck" in terms of nutritional value - 12 grams of protein, 5 grams of fiber and 6 grams of sugar.
No product is going to be perfect, but taking the time to compare will be well worth it to your health and waistline!
It only takes a few seconds to read a label and check for these contents in the amount of 5. The result will be a gradual improvement in your eating habits which will help you lead a healthier lifestyle.