Reader Story: Why I Started Reading Labels

This is part of our new “Reader Story” series so you can hear from others (besides me!) about their real food journey. Today’s story is by Taryn de Bruyn, a stay at home mom with 2 kids – 4-year-old daughter Kalia and nearly 2-year-old son Oliver. She is originally from Johannesburg, South Africa and moved to California in October 2013. If you’d like to submit your own story, you can do so here.


I never thought I would be a label reader. But here I am 3 years after I started changing my habits, and I now read every single ingredient label. Even a simple thing like coconut milk can have added fillers and other unwanted additives!

I grew up on home cooked dinners and have always made home cooked meals for my family. So for me, I had to change the snacks and other meals of the day. I’ve always had a good idea about what healthy food is, but when I had kids, I quickly realized I had to be more disciplined so I could teach them what good food is as well. Keeping my family healthy became one of my priorities, so I started making changes and learning more about real food.

Reader Story: Why I Started Reading Labels on 100 Days of Real Food

The changes I have made so far:

  1. I make homemade bread – I love my bread machine!
  2. I avoid processed food and replace it with homemade options when possible.
  3. I found breakfast cereals with less sugar.
  4. I have recently been trying to make breakfast (eggs, pancakes, granola, muffins with real fruit) so my kids don’t eat cereal every day or at least only once a day. They wake at 6 am, so often by 8:30 they are ready to have a 2nd breakfast.
  5. I make homemade ice cream and frozen yogurt. It’s so yummy and really easy to make with a machine.
  6. I add a fruit or vegetable to every meal. I would often get to the end of the day and realize my kids hadn’t eaten any fruit and feel like I had to force them to eat all their vegetables at dinner.
  7. I make a fruit and vegetable smoothie almost every day after dinner or lunch just to up our fruit and vegetable intake.

My biggest challenges:

  1. Healthy food for kids – I can make the same dinner they loved a week ago and they might decide the next time they just don’t want it or like it anymore. It can be extremely frustrating.
    Solutions:
    – I just keep trying to serve healthy options. If they are hungry they will eat.
    – We supplement with homemade fruit and vegetable smoothies.
  2. Shopping with kids  they want cookies, pretzels, crackers, and candy!
    Solutions:
    – If my daughter says she wants cookies or any other treat, I usually say we can make it at home. I’m always willing to try to make something new. It takes more time, but if it’s good, it’s so rewarding and if not, oh well, I got her out of the store without a fight.
    – I also have a few go-to snacks if we are at the store – brown rice cakes (fruit juice sweetened) and apple chips.
    It’s not always easy, but I have found that my daughter usually accepts that’s the way it is and she knows what her options are. We still eat crackers and other processed snacks, but I try to limit them to when we are at a party or have friends over.
  3. Finding time to make bread and home cooked meals.
    Solutions:
    – Being organized with meal plans
    – Prepping food ahead of time
    – Freezing extra meals if I make a double portion or making dinners to freeze
    – Having really simple dinner ideas for busy days (quinoa salads, rice bowls, etc.)

The next thing I plan on doing is adding fermented foods to our diet. I have done one batch of sauerkraut so far (pictured above) and hope to add more soon. I find it exciting to try new recipes and different ways to prepare good food. I hope my story helps inspire you on your real food journey.

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16 thoughts on “Reader Story: Why I Started Reading Labels”

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  1. I recently read an article from a friend of yours that you had a link to on your blog that was very informational for me. She is a French pastry chef and has 2 daughters. After her girls were struggling in health she went to find out what foods were allergies / sensitivities and she went gluten free and to an unprocessed food diet and saw great results. Can you send me the name? I would like to use Both your and her information for our family

  2. “Healthy food for kids – I can make the same dinner they loved a week ago and they might decide the next time they just don’t want it or like it anymore. It can be extremely frustrating.”
    This right here is the MOST annoying thing about feeding my children. They are great eaters but will just completely flip flop on a dish they loved and say they don’t like it. It drives me insane to think that dinner’s in the bag because I’ve made it before and they loved it, only to hear a bunch of whining! Good thing I love them! LOL

  3. I’m a compulsive label reader. My family hates shopping with me. It’s like a theme song every time I shop “crap, crap, sugar. Crap. Sugar. WHY DO THEY PUT SUGAR IN IT???”

      1. My kids read for me. Mom this means sugar or msg doesnt? Crap! they say. Ive shown them their whole lives when they want junk why they we re not having it. Dentists are amazed at their teeth as mine are crud, and the md complains we never come in…i do herbs too when they get sick lol
        I think shopping is a good time to teach actually.

  4. Dorcas Anne Ellison

    Thank you so much for these stories. In just 2 weeks of starting this i can tell how foods taste if they aren’t real. This helps me keep going.

    1. Amy Taylor (comment moderator)

      Hi there. I look for Ezekial sprouted buns when I am in Whole Foods, Earth Fare, Healthy Home Market or similar stores but you can also ask your mainstream grocer to carry it. You’ll find it with frozen breads. Lisa also sometimes buys buns from Great Harvest.

  5. Where can you find “clean” hamburger buns? I make most of my food from scratch, but I’d love a quick place to pick up hamburger buns, if possible.

    1. Amy Taylor (comment moderator)

      Hi there. I look for Ezekial sprouted buns when I am in Whole Foods, Earth Fare, Healthy Home Market or similar stores but you can also ask your mainstream grocer to carry it. You’ll find it with frozen breads. Lisa also sometimes buys buns from Great Harvest.

    2. Angelic Bakehouse also makes a sprouted 7-grain hamburger bun. Angelic breads are sold at some of my local grocery stores as well as Costco. Unfortunately, they do have 3 grams of sugar (honey, molasses) per bun, but still less then the 6 grams in a slice of honey whole wheat from Great Harvest. I like that I can buy them during my regular grocery shopping trip, when not otherwise going to Whole Foods.