Beware of Healthy Labels!

Food companies have one job; sell their products.  It is not to guide America to health, if that were the case Twinkies would have gone and actually stayed away a long time ago.

Did you know that food’s packaging is not regulated?  This means the manufacturer can bend any truth to fool you into thinking that what you are buying for your family is healthy just by adding these great “health slogans” to their packages.

What does this mean? If you see these slogans you should beware. Don’t just buy this product blindly,  the only way to know what’s good is to read the label and ingredients!!!

Here are few key things to look for when you see certain “healthy” packaging:

“Made with Whole Grains”

Many companies add in a small amount of whole grains to their product in order to use this label, but that doesn’t mean that is the only type of flour or grain in your food. Turn your attention immediately to the ingredients. The very first ingredient should read “100% Whole grain…” not enriched whole grain, or white flour.

A common item manufacturers are using this label on is bread and cereal.  Just because your Lucky Charms are now made with whole grains does not undue the other unhealthy ingredients in your bowl.  Make sure you read the label after you read the ingredients and check the amount of sugar added to sweeten these whole grains!

“Fat Free”

Items that are fat free, whether it is those that should have fats by definition, think butter, or other processed foods like baked goods and potato chips, are not necessarily better than their fat containing counter part. Turn to the ingredients, see all those big words like xantham gum and sodium benzoate? Those are chemical and artificial additives these products contain to replace the flavor and consistency you still want without the calories.  Even though these are approved by the FDA, studies show that in the long run you are possibly doing damage to your system and organs by introducing these foreign chemicals to your body.  Think about it this way: you can burn calories but you cannot undue damages linked to these “not fat fats” like cancer and insulin resistance(Type II Diabetes).

Fat is not a four letter word. We all need fat, so by cutting out all fats in your diet you may be doing damage too.  Look for Monounsaturated and Polyunsaturated fats in small amounts, these are the good fats that actually help clear out the bad cholesterol in your system.  Do cut out as much saturated fats as possible and all trans fats from your diet.  Main idea: when reading the ingredients of your food you want to be able to pronounce what you are eating.

“Sugar Free”

Just like with “Fat Free” foods read the ingredients! Replacing the sugar in your drinks or food with it’s non-calorie containing counter parts like Sucralose and Aspartame are not good substitutes.  Both of these additives were denied multiple times by the FDA because their unknown and unstudied affects on humans.  No joke, there was very little research done on humans before their approval with the FDA, most was done on lab rats.  Recent studies show they are linked to obesity, Type II diabetes, certain cancers, increased appetite and the list goes on…

Again it is better to eat the calories in moderation than replacing them with these chemicals.

“Gluten Free”

Many people are unaware of what Gluten is.  Gluten is a protein found in wheat.  Some people, not all, are allergic to gluten (celiac disease) or are gluten intolerant meaning their body reacts poorly to gluten and is not able to process it as well as others. Other people who commonly avoid gluten may do it as a remedy for other medical reasons.  For example my lovely mother has Fibromyalgia, after many years of trying to find ways to minimize her pain her doctor suggested she try going gluten free as there has been evidence linked to gluten and Fibromyalgia pain.  It worked and she has been gluten free for almost a year!

Now that you know what gluten is, you can see that “Gluten Free” has nothing to do with the nutritional and caloric value of your food other than saying it does not contain wheat or wheat products.   When you see “gluten free”, and are not on a gluten free diet, read the label and check the ingredients.  If you are getting a high nutritional content (high in fiber, protein and/or vitamins) and have recognizable ingredients then this product is probably a good choice.

“100% natural”

Manufacturers love to bend the truth. When you see 100% natural on a processed food item, like crackers or juice or fruit gummies, it obviously does not mean that product is found in nature.  It only means that the producer started with natural ingredients before processing them.  Processing ingredients strips them of many nutrients they contained originally and probably adds in some not so healthy components to the finished product, so beware.  Again read the label and ingredients.  All natural should be just that.

Being an informed consumer is a very useful weapon against these corporations and manufacturers. Remember your family’s health is of the upmost importance so do your homework and don’t be fooled when you hit the grocery store! 

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