Warning: Reading this may make you mad! And really, it should. After all, we are talking about the health of our families here. I am so frustrated by food manufacturers who continue to take advantage of good intentions with deceptive labeling. Many people trying to make healthy choices often gravitate toward words like ‘Organic’, ‘Natural’, ‘Whole Grain’, and ‘Gluten Free’. But according to researchers, those words ‘create a false sense of health’ that can override other warnings on the label that aren’t so obvious. Well, knowledge is power people! So today I’m going to arm you with the power to make healthier decisions at the grocery store by sharing 5 ways food manufacturers fool you.
INGREDIENT ORDER MATTERS: Just because a good ingredient is on the list, it doesn’t mean the product is good for you. Here’s why. Ingredients are listed in order of their proportion in the product. That means, the first 3 ingredients are primarily what you are eating. They are the most important! Products with herbs or berries listed toward the end of the list are likely just a gimmick and only contain small amounts of the ingredient.
DON’T BE FOOLED BY THE WORD “WHEAT”. When it comes to flour, all flour is made from wheat. Only “whole grain wheat flour” is a healthful form of wheat flour. Otherwise it is still heavily processed and enriched. That’s why I prefer almond or coconut flour instead. Keep that in mind when you are buying bread too! Just grabbing a loaf of wheat bread isn’t as healthy as you think. A better option is sprouted grains. Sprouted grains are considered a live food so you won’t find them on the shelf. Look for sprouted grain breads in the freezer section.
BROWN PRODUCTS AREN’T ALWAYS HEALTHIER THAN WHITE. Brown sugar is still sugar with added molasses. Brown eggs are no different than white except for their color. What makes eggs better is if they are cage-free and organic. Even brown rice is only slightly better than white and even that is arguable among some people.
FOOD NAMES CAN INCLUDE WORDS NOT FOUND IN THE FOOD. That’s right! A cheese cracker doesn’t have to actually contain any cheese. Something ‘creamy’ doesn’t have to contain cream. And ‘Fruit’ products don’t have to contain real fruit. Another description that can be deceiving is ‘sugar free’. You still need to read the label because there could be artificial sweeteners in the finished product. See, why I’m so irritated? Are you mad yet?
UNREALISTIC SERVING SIZES. When you scan labels for calories, sugar grams, fat content etc., don’t skip over the serving size! Food manufacturers often reduce the serving size to make the rest of the nutritional information look good. But really, who is going to eat 7 chips , half a can of soup or split a can of Arizona Green Tea with Ginseng and Honey with two other people? Here’s another dirty little secret to illustrate why serving size is important. If a serving of a food has less than half a gram of trans fat, the manufacturer is legally allowed to list it as 0 grams of trans fat per serving. If the food has any hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oil on the ingredients list, that means there is trans fat in the item. Now you know!
I hope you aren’t bummed out by what you just read. I want you to feel more powerful after reading this. Now that you know what to look for on labels, you can make the healthy choices you were trying to make in the first place. If you’d like a free grocery guide complete with meal plans to help you out even further, just sign up for my newsletter!