Be aware of a label’s claim to healthy fame.
In preparation for a presentation that I'm giving on "FfL friendly foods," I decided to head to the grocery store last week to snap some pictures of pre-packaged food labels and their ingredients. As I walked up and down the aisles with my camera, I found it comical (okay, more like alarming) at how many manufacturers use labels to catch our attention and entice us. The sad thing is… their intentions (and products) aren’t always pure.
I like to call it “The Label Illusion!”
We’ve been programmed to identify with words such as organic, all natural, gluten-free, healthy, lean, low carb, low calorie, low-fat, fat-free, diet, light, reduced-fat, real and non-GMO. But after taking a closer look, you’d be surprised how misleading these “comfort words” may be.
What I found during my little FULLfoods field trip was countless, and I mean COUNTLESS, foods who's labels insinuated they were "healthy" when they were actually FAR from it. At one point I even tossed my hands up in the air and let out a little "what the heck?!"... As if shopping for healthy food isn't confusing enough, now we all have to worry about the sincerity of the label too?
Because shopping for healthy foods can be so confusing, I wanted to break down a few words that most of us gravitate to.
Confusing "HEALTHY" Word #1: ORGANIC
When you see the word organic, you may automatically think it means the food is much healthier. But, the organic label is a little trickier than that. Not only can "organic" foods still contain synthetic ingredients (read more about that HERE), the food itself may not be all that healthy.
Here's what I mean... Organic isn't a label that magically makes BAD FOOD good for you. Organic white sugar is still white sugar. If you're eating a big bag of chips, organic or not, they're still junk food. Organic ice cream is still a dessert and organic cereal can still be FILLED with sugar and other ingredients that eliminate it from making the top of my "healthy" list.
For the most part, organic foods often have lower levels of pesticides, growth hormones and antibiotics. So I'm not saying don't buy organic, just take a moment to flip the box over, look at the ingredients and understand what you're actually eating.
Confusing "HEALTHY" Word #2: Gluten-Free
Gluten-free is another word that's often associated with healthy. But just like organic, gluten-free chips are still chips and gluten-free bread doesn't mean it's made with the best ingredients. While we try to keep our household relatively gluten-free, we're careful not to just pick something up off the shelf because it states it doesn't contain wheat.
Other Confusing Words:
✓ All natural
✓ Low carb
✓ Low calorie
To sum it up, countless foods are labeled with these words but are still highly processed, making them not all that healthy (and yet often more expensive). The truth in how “healthy” a food actually is can be found in the ingredients and how the food item was made, grown or raised. General rule… don’t grab a food item because of claims on the label. Look at the ingredients and decide for yourself!
If you want the full breakdown on what ingredients to look for, ones to avoid and healthy foods in general, HEAD HERE and choose whatever topic you're interested in!
Some other topics you might be interested in:
- Organic Doesn't Necessarily Mean Healthy (Spoiler Alert)
- The Dirty Truth About Grocery Store Nut-Butter (Spoiler Alert)
- How Much Sugar is in Your Breakfast? (Spoiler Alert)