If a food product is marketing itself as being healthy, it’s generally not. Think about it, do kale, brown rice, and chicken breast have multi-million dollar healthy eating advertisement campaigns behind them? No. But they are all great parts of a healthful diet. Here are some claims and labels you should watch out for:
Fat Free. This does not mean calorie-free, nor does it mean low calorie. In fact, sometimes the fat free version of a product has more calories than the original! Often times the fat has been replaced with added sugars (which can wreak havoc with your weight and blood sugar) and may even have toxic tran-fat replacing some of the naturally occurring fat.
Cholesterol Free. All animal products contain cholesterol, and eating dietary cholesterol has not been linked with high blood cholesterol levels in most people. So what if there’s no cholesterol? Read the ingredients label to see what else is in it.
No High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS). Great! But there may be tons of sugar in the form of sugar, honey, evaporated organic cane juice, brown rice syrup, maple syrup, dextrose, fructose, or one of the other numerous aliases sugar goes by. Your consumption of added sugars by any name should be limited. Check out the nutrition information!
Gluten Free. Gluten is a type of protein that is commonly found in wheat, barley, and rye. The only people who need to avoid gluten are those with celiac disease and those who have an intolerance to gluten For everyone else, the current explosion of gluten free bread, cracker, and pasta products are not necessary, and will not help with weight loss. Many of the products have significantly more calories than the original. Gluten free doesn’t mean low carb either: rice is gluten free. You would be better off focusing on whole grains and trying to avoid refined flour and products with added sugars instead of gluten.
Natural. This means nothing. There are absolutely no regulations and guidelines for labeling products as natural. At the grocery store, a box of cookies, corn fed beef chock full of hormones, and eggs from chickens dosed with antibiotics can all carry the title of natural.
Organic. There are specific guidelines farmers and producers have to follow in order to call something organic, but that label basically only insures that certain pesticides were not applied to the produce or product ingredients. It DOES NOT mean that it is low calorie, low fat, low sugar, or healthy or not. Use common sense. A organic cupcake is still a cupcake and should be treated as such!
Are there any labels or marketing claims that bother you? Have you purchased something based on the nutrition marketing only to find out you’d been tricked?