Packaged foods are marketed with countless healthy labels - promoting them as being a great choice like 'whole grain' or 'all natural'. Are these labels really healthy or an easy marketing tool to get you to buy more?
Unhealthy labels bannertenon

4 Unhealthy 'Healthy" Food Labels

Nutrition

Food companies that make packaged foods are a business. Like any business, their main goal is to sell more product and make more money. How do they do this? Successful marketing...

Marketing is successful when it speaks to you (the customer) and encourages you to want it and buy it.

"How will this product make your life better?"

When it comes to food and the current marketplace - if something is labeled as a healthy option you are more likely to buy it because we all want to be healthy! 

Your health, however isn't the goal of the company - higher sales are. So be mindful when you read so called 'healthy' labels on packages - they are basically ads for the food to get you to want to buy them. Below are four very popular labels food companies are currently having success with...

Gluten Free

This has become so trendy and supposedly “healthy” – especially with snack foods. Don’t get me wrong, if you have an allergy or sensitivity to gluten then you definitely need to avoid it. However, if you do not, choosing processed and packaged foods labelled 'gluten free' do not mean they are healthier. In fact, they are usually full of other highly processed (unhealthy) fillers to take the place of wheat or gluten – not a great choice. Instead, choose whole foods closest to their natural state -  vegetables, fruits, gluten free oats, quinoa, brown rice – all real, naturally gluten free foods that don’t come with a long list of ingredients. 

Vegan

Now coming from a vegan this one might surprise you but the label ‘vegan’ is becoming more trendy by the minute! I am personally thrilled to see more people making the choice to reduce or avoid animal products however, many food companies see it as an opportunity to create cheap, highly processed foods and label them vegan so you will buy them! Remember your health is not their main concern! The better choice is to go with natural vegetables, fruits, whole grains, seeds, nuts and legumes – that is the basis of a plant based diet…PLANTS! If you choose to add in a few packaged vegan foods (which I do as well) read the ingredients and pick ones that have good, unprocessed foods in them – go with words you recognize!

Ready to bring a little more healthy ‘vegan’ into your life? Check out Simple Changes for a Healthy Plant Based Diet

Whole Grain

I love whole grains! They give you good energy, keep your brain functioning well and are full of fibre for weight management and a healthy digestive system. However, when I see a box of colourful, sweet cereal labelled ‘whole grains’ I cringe. Let’s be honest, whole grains aren’t blue or pink and yes, there might be a small glimmer of whole grain in that cereal but the large amount of sugar is cancelling out any chance of health they are promoting. Real whole grains are pure and well ‘whole’ – think oats, quinoa, brown rice…these foods don’t have ingredients, they ARE ingredients! 

Learn more about whole grain - Grains 101: The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

Sugar Free

Sugar is addictive. It is in a million different things that we eat and drink and don’t even know it! Our tastes have become accustomed to this level of sweetness. We know it isn’t good for us. And food companies know we know this - many of them are to blame for our addiction in the first place. So what do they do? Offer a ‘sugar free’ version – to keep you as a customer! So, if it tastes sweet but doesn’t have sugar then what exactly does it have? An artificial sweetener that mimics the taste of sugar and is potentially just as unhealthy as sugar – if not worse. A better choice is to choose naturally sweet fruits and vegetables to satisfy your craving – sweet potatoes, berries, bell peppers. Drink water with fruit slices or different flavours of clear herbal tea. If you do want a touch of sweetness in something like your oatmeal try a tiny amount of honey or maple syrup – natural sweeteners that your body can process and digest.

Learn 5 Simple Ways to Cut Out Excess Sugar

When you do choose packaged foods take time to read the ingredients, you want them to read like a recipe not a science experiment. If there are ingredients you haven’t heard of or wouldn’t use yourself in your kitchen then it isn’t the best choice.

The bottom line is that whole, real foods don’t have or need labels. They are naturally gluten free or vegan or sugar free, etc. Eating these foods is the simplest way to better health, so fill your plates and bowls with fresh, nourishing label free foods.

Eat mindfully, live vibrantly…

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