Low calorie, fat free, low sugar, gluten free, all natural and the list goes on. Peruse the aisles of any grocery store and you will find yourself inundated by a bevy of food marketing buzzwords. At first glance, these eye catching labels may convince you that consuming these foods will lead to weight loss or improved health. However, without reading the fine print, you may be falling prey to marketing trickery. Here are some labels to look out for and tips on how to read between the lines.
- All Natural: Seeing the words “all natural” stamped on the front of a box may entice some people to choose that product over another. However, buyer beware. All natural does not necessarily mean healthier. Sugar laden foods can sport this label, but it’s only because the sugar is made from natural sources such as sugarcane and corn.
- Organic: While there are certain USDA regulations around labeling food “organic”, such regulations refer solely to the standards by which the food was grown or processed. The absence of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides are among several standards upheld by the USDA. A label that reads “made with organic” means that only 70% of the ingredients are held to organic standards. Regardless of whether a label reads “certified organic”, “100% organic”, or “made with organic”, the translation is not always a healthy one. Organic foods can still be packed with fat, calories, and sugar.
- Calories Per Serving: A frequent technique used to promote foods to those who may be trying to shed a few pounds is the “only 100 calories per serving” or other low-cal label. This can seem attractive to calorie counting folks, however it is important to note that the lower calorie count can be a simple function of tiny and unrealistic serving sizes. Any food that is consumed in minute amounts will be lower in calories so be aware of the quantity attached to calorie count.
- Sugar Free: The label says “sugar free” so it must be good for you right? Think again! Sugar free often indicates the presence of artificial sweeteners and other unhealthy substitutes to compensate for the more bland flavor that comes from being free of sugar.
- Fat Free or Low Fat: The absence of fat often equates to the absence of flavor. Therefore, foods labeled “fat free” or “low fat” often contain lots of added sugar to make up for the lost flavor.
When it comes to making healthy food shopping decisions, always be weary of marketing labels and delve deeper by reading FDA regulated nutritional labels and ingredient lists. Pay attention to serving size to be sure that low calorie doesn’t mean two bites and you’re done.
Also, be aware that ingredients are listed in order of quantity so the first few ingredients make up the majority of the food’s contents. Looking beyond marketing techniques and really understanding how to eat right can be daunting, but the experts at Medifast Weight Control Centers can help.
Please call today (602) 996-9669 for your complimentary consultation so that we can support you in learning how to eat for good health and ideal weight!