Think of a grocery store like a huge ocean; you are a fish, and the food marketing industry will do anything to reel you in.
Oh, those chips are fat free?They must be healthier than the same chips that have fat! All natural must be healthier because natural is better, right? Pump your brakes! Those big, colorful, and perfectly placed labels on the front don’t care about your health goals. In fact they care about the complete opposite, your money. Check your cupboards because some of those products you have been purchasing in an effort to achieve your health goals, may actually be the obstacles keeping you from your health goals. Let me show you 5 of the worst labeling tricks used to make something unhealthy seem very healthy!
When most people think of “all natural” they think naturally occurring on earth. The problem is the food industry knows this and it also knows that we’re all trying to eat healthier. So why not cash in on this by leading people into thinking certain products are natural. Unfortunately, in the the food industry there isn’t much regulation to labeling something natural. Look at these examples.
Ever seen a cheetos hanging from that tree in your backyard?
Maybe a goldfish cracker in your pond?
Maybe drink some pepsi from your faucet?
Don’t be fooled into thinking because something says natural that it is automatically healthy. A cheeto is still a cheeto, a goldfish cracker is still a goldfish cracker, and soda is still soda. If you need a chip eat a chip, but don’t fool yourself into thinking its natural or good for you because a label tells you so.
Yes, eating sugar like it’s going out of style isn’t in your best interest. Same goes for anything else you want to throw in there to replace sugar. Just like anything else, too much of something in most cases leads to bad consequences. In this instance the “sugar free” labeling on food is designed and marketed to prey on people who think sugar is evil. It’s important to note though that just because something doesn’t contain sugar doesn’t mean its calorie free, carbohydrate free, or even healthy. Do you know what aspartame, sorbitol, mannitol, xylitol, or even isomalt is? Chances are you don’t and chances are you agree that these things don’t even sound healthy. Guess what? If it is sugar free it contains one of those weird sounding ingredients in order to give it flavor. Sugar doesn’t seem so bad now, does it?
Multigrain must mean healthy because wheat is a grain and thats healthy right? Wrong! All that something must have to be labeled multigrain is exactly that just more then one grain. It doesn’t matter how its prepared or processed it just needs multiple grains in it. It also doesn’t matter what part of the grain you put in it, seeing as there are three parts to a grain that each contain important nutrients it’s crucial to ensure all three are in there to maxmimize its value. Look at the first ingredient on the back of any “multigrain” or even wheat product if it says 100% whole wheat in the first ingredient then you know it contains all neccessary components of the grain.
Don’t be fooled by the gluten free obsession. Gluten free doesn’t neccessarily mean low calorie or even healthy, all it means is it
doesn’t contain gluten a protein found in wheat, rye and barley. Not only are gluten free products usually more expensive, but because the gluten has been removed it is usually filled with even more calories and sugars to actually make up for the taste/texture of it’s gluten counterpart. In addition, gluten free products tend to lack in essential nutrients like fiber, iron, zinc, and magnesium just to name a few. Yes gluten free is a neccessity for someone with celiac’s disease or a gluten intolerance, but if you haven’t been diagnosed with either, there is literally no need.
Everybody is looking for the evil thing to demonize and blame all their struggles on. In recent times, it has been fat. So what do marketing companies do? They capitalize by marketing things as low fat or fat free because they know you will buy it without thinking twice. I went into length about the importance of fat and why it is actually essential here, so give it a read if you want to learn the benefits of fat. But moving on like I stated before a processed food like chips, ice cream, or crackers will always be a processed food no matter whether that label says fat free,natural, gluten free, or whatever.
Remember a chip is a chip, regardless of what the food marketing industry wants you to think. Everytime something is removed something is also added, this is the same case with fat free products. Removing fat or reducing it results usually in added sugars to make up for the loss of fat flavor and essentially brings the overall calorie content up to match, or exceed the fat containing counterpart product.
Don’t be deceived by the clever marketing companies because believe me they could care less about your health goals. The job of the food marketing companies just like any other marketing company is to find out what makes you tick and use it to close a sale. Sugar is demonized, so let’s make sure we say our product is sugar free. Fat is in the dog house, let’s make a fat free labeled product. It’s your job as the consumer to not fall victim to these marketing ploys and take the time to educate yourself, so that you know what you’re putting in your body is in line with your health goals.
Here are our three main takeaways:
1. A chip is a chip no matter what the front label tells you. And no, chips aren’t “healthy”, but they taste good.
2. Free of something only means they’re replacing it with something probably worse.
3. Skip the front of the package and focus your attention on the back nutrition label.
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