Defining “Healthy” – The Truth about Package Labels

Defining "Healthy" - The Truth about Package Labels

Imagine yourself navigating through grocery store isles, checking off items on your shopping list to complete your healthy nutrition plan. Suddenly, you’re faced with a classic grocery dilemma – picking one product over another because of health claims on the label.

If you’ve ever been swayed by food packaging when buying groceries, you may have been deceived. That’s because food advertisers use a variety of messages to promote a healthier lifestyle in order to drive product sales. Do any of these sound familiar?

  • “All natural”
  • “Fat-free”
  • “Reduced-sodium”
  • “1/3 Less Calories”
  • “Organic”
  • “No sugar added”
  • “Zero trans fat”

Although these types of messages may lead you to believe you’re making the best choice for your weight and health, this may not always be the case. If making conscious, careful decisions about what you consume is important to you, here are a few important things to consider when checking items off your grocery list:

Mastering Package Labels – What You Should Know as a Smart Consumer

  • Examine the Nutrition Label Instead – Nutrition labels, featured on the back of the package, will tell you a lot more about what’s actually in your food. Package labels simply highlight one or two aspects. To learn more about reading nutrition labels, please CLICK HERE.
  • Read the Ingredients – A quick glance at the first three featured ingredients can reveal a lot about the foods’s quality. Opt for those foods featuring whole ingredients rather than processed grains, sugars or hydrogenated oils.
  • Consider the “Balance” of Ingredients – For example, many products which advertise “fat-free” may be higher in sugar or sodium. Consider the ingredient list in full, rather than isolating certain messages.
  • Note Portion Sizes – Calories and other nutritional information listed on packaging often refer to portion sizes that are much smaller than what you’d realistically consume.
  • Watch for Alternative Ingredient Names – Many unwanted ingredients such as sugars and sodium are disguised as other names. For example, sugar may be listed as cane sugar, dextran, corn sweetener or glucose.

You may notice that most of the time, these packaging trends appear on packaged, processed foods found in center isles of the grocery store. As a general rule of thumb, remember that un-processed, whole foods provide the most nutritional benefit and are most likely to help you reach your weight management goals.

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