In a world where people are genuinely trying their best to eat 'healthy' it seems completely corrupt that our FSA (Food Standards Agency) who is responsible for regulating nutrition and health claims on our food, can allow so much grey area to allow multi billion pound organisations to generate millions at the expense of our health.
Here are 10 misleading food labels to watch out for.
1) HIGH PROTEIN
Implies: More protein than other similar products/healthy
Often means: The product has 20% of it’s energy value provided by protein.
Scams: Creative wording, product already had 20%+ protein before new label, serving tweaked to hit the 20% marker.
Your countermove: Be savvy and check the labels and remember that more protein doesn't mean healthy.
Implies: Healthier, made with multiple grains, therefore it is healthier.
Often means: Made with multiple grains that can be refined. Bread companies can include as little as 3% of a secondary grain to name it's product multi-grain.
Your countermove: Disregard this label, look for 100% whole-wheat grain or 100% whole grain
Implies: No man-made ingredients, organic, non-GMO.
Often means: Nothing at all. “Natural” is not a claim verified by any oversight body. No legal definition of the term 'natural' exists.
Your countermove: Don’t be fooled. Ignore this claim completely.
4) MADE WITH REAL FRUIT
Implies: Full of nutritious fruit
Often means: Recipe often includes only a “drop” of real fruit, added to other ingredients which aren’t ‘real’. “Made with real fruit” is technically true, but only in a legalistic sense!
Your countermove: Buy the actual fruit.
5) LOW FAT
Implies: Lower calorie, healthier
Often means: Manufacturers add more sugar to maintain taste. Products must haves less than 3% fat to claim low fat.
60 years ago the sugar industry quietly paid scientists to point the blame at fat [source]
Your countermove: Check for sugars!
Other misleading labels include; superfood, low sugar, sugar-free, fruit-flavoured, light, low-carb... the list goes on.
Moral of the story: Do not trust food manufacturers, their goal is to sell as much of their product as possible and they pay marketing professionals to ensure their product is appealing.
How to read labels without being tricked:
- Ignore claims on the front of the packaging
- Study the ingredients list
- Watch out for serving sizes
- Understand the variety of sugars that can be included including; high-fructose corn syrup, dextrose, fructose, and many more (56 in total). [source]
An easy solution?
As a nutritionist - I teach is the 80/20 approach. 80% whole foods (foods with 1 ingredient) & 20% flex. Life is for living but in order to look and feel at our best we have to look after our bodies 80% of the time so we can have a little more freedom for 20% of the time. At first it may sound daunting but over time when you feel the changes and realise how easy it is to make notorious and delicious meals I promise you will be a changed person.
Come and find out more about Diet Coaching and start your journey to a better you: