What ingredients does HFLM not use? And why?

By Lizzie Streit, MS, RDN, LD 

At Healthy For Life Meals, we are committed to providing fresh, delicious meals that can help you get healthy and lose weight.  

But you may be wondering what specifically sets our meals apart. What types of ingredients will you not find in Healthy For Life Meals? And why? 

To ensure we are serving the best, most nutritious meals possible, our menus emphasize fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats, and avoid unnecessary additives and ingredients.  

Below is a comprehensive list of the types of ingredients we limit or avoid for your health and safety.  

Ingredients that HFLM Limits or Avoids 

Finding prepared meals that are void of unhealthy ingredients can be a challenge. But HFLM offers a solution, with menus that are low in added sugars and sodium and free from artificial sweeteners and colors, antibiotics in meat, and frozen or dried foods. 

Artificial Sweeteners 

Artificial sweeteners and sugar substitutes are added to foods to make them sweet, but have no or very few calories.  

You may know them by the names Equal (aspartame), Sweet ‘N Low (saccharin), Splenda (sucralose), Newtame (neotame), or Stevia. Sugar alcohols, that are derived from sugars but contain fewer calories, are also commonly added to foods in place of sugar.  

Why we don’t use artificial sweeteners: Studies have shown that artificial sweeteners may lead to overeating and subsequent weight gain. They may also change the composition of bacteria in your intestines, which can compromise gut health and have a negative effect on health. In addition, sugar alcohols can cause gas, diarrhea, and other unpleasant symptoms in some people. For more information on artificial sweeteners, check out this post. 

Artificial Colors 

Some foods are artificially colored with food dyes. These include Red No. 3 and No. 40, Yellow No. 5 and No. 6, and Blue No. 1 and No. 2 (1). 

Food dyes can be found in candies, mac and cheese, instant oatmeal, syrups, canned fruit, and more. 

Why we don’t use food dyes: While these substances are approved for use in foods by the FDA, there is some research that links food dye consumption and health issues, including hyperactivity in children. However, more studies are needed (2). 

Added Sugars 

Our meals are very low in added sugars and mainly include natural sugars from fruits, dairy, and vegetables. These foods also contain fiber (with the exception of dairy), vitamins, minerals, and other important nutrients. 

Foods that are high in added sugars usually lack beneficial nutrients and provide a ton of empty calories. Currently, the American Heart Association recommends limiting added sugar to no more than 9 teaspoons (36 grams) per day for men and 6 teaspoons (25 grams) per day for women (3). 

Why we limit added sugars: Excessive sugar consumption has been linked to an increased risk of obesity, heart disease, acne, diabetes, and several other health issues. For more information on added vs. natural sugars, check out this post (4567).  

Sodium 

While sodium is a necessary nutrient, most Americans consume way too much of it! Salt is added to countless foods, especially processed meats, frozen meals, condiments, and restaurant foods. 

All of our menu plans have less than the recommended limit of 2,300 mg of sodium per day. In fact, our 1,200-calorie plan averages 1,446 mg of sodium per day. 

Why we limit salt: High salt consumption may increase your risk of high blood pressure, osteoporosis, kidney stones, and other chronic diseases. What’s more, sodium causes your body to retain water, making you feel heavier and bloated. Check out this post more information on salt in foods (8). 

Antibiotics in Meat and Poultry 

Did you know that animals that are raised for food in the United States are often given antibiotics? In fact, the majority of fast food restaurants use meat that comes from animals that received antibiotics. 

This is because antibiotics may help enhance animal growth and therefore increase the amount of meat that can be processed and sold, in addition to preventing or treating infections. Some of the antibiotics used in animals are also used to treat human infections (9). 

Why we don’t use meat and poultry with antibiotics: Regularly consuming products from animals that have been raised with antibiotics can contribute to antibiotic resistance, which may make it more difficult to treat infections in humans. For more information about the use of antibiotics in meat and how to find meats without them, see this post

Frozen or Dried Foods 

All of the meals on the HFLM menu plans are freshly prepared. This means you’re not getting anything that’s frozen or dried when you receive your meals!  

Instead, you get delicious meals with real, whole foods, like fruits and vegetables, whole grains, beans, and healthy proteins. You can store them in the fridge and reheat when you want to eat. 

Why we don’t use frozen or dried foods: These foods are typically made to have a long shelf life, and are usually high in salt and preservatives. Plus, they don’t taste as good as fresh foods!  

Shakes, Bars, or Supplements 

Some companies recommend shakes, bars, powders, or supplements as part of their programs. These products are usually substitutes for real food, and are made in a lab…instead of a kitchen!  

Why we don’t use shakes, bars, or supplements: Our meals are nutritionally balanced and contain everything you need solely from foods. Instead of wasting your money on unnecessary and fake products, you can enjoy real meals when you get started with one of our plans. 

In summary, Healthy For Life Meals are low in added sugars and sodium, and free from: 

  • Artificial sweeteners: Equal, Splenda, Sweet ‘N Low, Stevia, sugar alcohols, and others 

  • Food dyes: Red No. 3 and No. 40, Yellow No. 5 and No. 6, and Blue No. 1 and No. 2, and all others 

  • Meal and poultry raised with antibiotics 

  • Frozen or dried foods: like the ones you may find with other prepared meal companies! 

  • Shakes, bars, or supplements: unnecessary and highly processed items that are used to substitute real foods 

What we DO use! 

Our menu plans are varied and balanced, and contain the recommended amounts of nutrients. Instead of using highly processed ingredients, we base our meals on these nutritious foods: 

  • Whole vegetables: broccoli, cauliflower, bell peppers, lettuce, carrots, and more 

  • Whole fruits: berries, grapes, melon, apples, and more 

  • Whole grains: farro, oats, bulgur, quinoa, whole wheat, and more 

  • Legumes: pinto beans, black beans, chickpeas, white beans, and more 

  • Nuts and seeds: chia seeds, peanut butter, flaxseed, almonds, and more 

  • Lean proteins: chicken, turkey, beef, fish, eggs, and more from animals that are never given antibiotics 

  • Dairy: Greek yogurt, low-fat cheese, and more 

Note from Healthy For Life Meals:  Our motto: Eat Real Food. Skip the unnecessary or harmful ingredients. Get started with one of our plans today! 

Stef Keegan