Come to think of it, the food stuff you bring home from the supermarket and grocery store aisles can determine up to a great degree whether you would lose weight or gain a few more extra pounds over the next few days. If you look closely and read labels, the products that have been labelled with tags like “healthy,” “100% real,” “organic,” you would be able to gauge that most of them are misleading. No matter what the front label says, don’t let it fool you into picking it up! The labels on the front of processed foods are made attractive, with colorful packaging, decorated with fancy buzzwords to appeal to consumers. Evidence shows that front labels of food products are misleading in most cases. For example, certain breakfast cereals that have labels like “fortified with vitamins,” “made with whole grain,” “with real fruits,” are highly processed and have little to zero nutritional value. Regardless of what the packaging says, these breakfast items are not at all healthy! Gullible people who want to get healthy and lose weight often fall for these tag lines and actually replace healthy home-made healthy options like idli, dosa poha, dalia, paratha, dhokla with these. In fact, some people rely on packaged fruit juices for a healthy start to the day! Millions of dollars are spent by brands to make their products attractive and also double the amount is splurged on advertising through print, television, and social media to promote their products as “healthy.” As we have mentioned above, food companies use fancy tags and trending buzzwords on their labels to give their products a “healthy” makeover. They try to cash in on the hype surrounding certain tags, “organic” for example. Though there are guidelines by food regulatory authorities to ensure consumers are not misled or duped, food companies often find loopholes and know how to circumvent certain guidelines and rules. With millions spent on marketing and advertising, it becomes exceedingly difficult to ignore such food. In fact, research done by Nielsen Survey, showed that approximately 59 percent of consumers have difficulty in understanding nutrition labels! When you are out grocery shopping, especially in a supermarket, the aisles are full of foods that are hyped and placed cleverly to attract your attention. So, in a world where every other food seems to have been adulterated and processed, we consumers need to be wise and careful before purchasing any food product. In this post, we list out 16 misleading labels and how to avoid being tricked by them, so that you can make informed choices.
1. Low-Calorie: Though margarine is promoted as low in calories and a healthier option to plain butter, it is made with vegetable oil (butter is made from dairy), which makes it high in transfat, not only raising cholesterol levels, it also increases the risk of heart disease. By all means, pick butter over margarine, and ignore the “low calorie” label on this product because there’s only a minuscule difference between margarine (106 calories per tbsp) and butter (101 calories per tbsp).
2. 100% Organic: All of us are looking for organic products, whether it’s food or cosmetics, even cleaning products. But organic does not necessarily mean “healthy” because organic food can be high in fat, sugar, and calorie count.
3. All Natural: This is one label you should watch out for because what is passed as “all natural” may not actually be healthy. For example, high fructose corn syrup is extracted from corn, but regular consumption can put you in a prediabetic category and increase the risk of type 2 diabetes, obesity, and heart disease.
4. Sugar-free: Food companies are allowed to add up to 0.5 grams of sugar in a single serving size. And multiple servings will increase that amount. Also, sugar-free products may have high fat content to compensate for the lack of taste when sugar has been removed. Additionally, artificial sweeteners that have been added disturb the gut flora and alter proper functioning of the gut.
5. No Added Sugar: Food companies are adding sugar under different names, avoiding the simple term “sugar.” If you are on a diet or simply leading a healthy life, you need to know what sugar is called in different names because you read two or more sugar names in the ingredients list, do yourself a favour and stay away from it! Let’s begin- cane sugar, brown sugar, buttered sugar, beet sugar, caster sugar, coconut sugar, invert sugar, date sugar, golden sugar, organic raw sugar, raspadura sugar, muscovado sugar, confectioner’s sugar and evaporated cane juice are some common sugars found in processed food. Types of syrup: high-fructose corn syrup, golden syrup, oat syrup, carob syrup, honey, agave nectar, rice bran syrup,malt syrup, maple syrup, rice syrup, malt syrup. Other types of sugars: Lactose, barley malt, molasses, ethyl maltol, cane juice crystals, maltodextrin, galactose, malt powder, corn sweetener, crystalline fructose, dextran, fructose, fruit juice concentrate, maltose, disaccharides, and glucose. These are all sugars, irrespective of how they have been mentioned on the ingredients list.
6. Brown Bread: That piece of brown bread you made a healthy sandwich may not be healthy after all, a lot of brands are using caramel coloring so that their breads look “brown-er” and healthy.
7. Fat-Free: When fat content is ripped, the process leaves the food bland and tasteless. To appeal to the tastebuds of consumers, companies add heaps of sugar, refined carbs, salt, emulsifiers, and thickeners which add high amount of calories to the body. Such a tendency defeats the whole purpose where one is actually going “low fat” to lose weight.
8. Multigrain Everything: From bread to atta, even chips have begun to add “multigrain” to their products, but multigrain stuff usually has a higher percentage of refined flour and empty calories.
9. Zero Transfat: Transfat is bad for your heart, even worse for your waist. Foods that claim to contain zero trans fat can actually contain up to 0.5 grams per serving, and this number quickly adds up with multiple servings.
10. Enriched with Fruits: With dehydrated and sweetened fruits, it’s just like eating candy.
11. Immunity Boosters: With the covid pandemic, everyone is looking to strengthen their immunity, even toothpaste brands are claiming they have ingredients that can boost immunity.
12. Fortified Foods: Recent study shows that regular consumption of fortified food (where extra nutrients are added) may not be good for children, especially with vitamin A and zinc, whose overdose can cause liver damage. Stick to natural food to get your nutrients, unless prescribed by a doctor.
13. Low-Carb: Just how much carb is low carb? Though bread, pasta, cereals, flavoured and sweetened products, fruit juices might carry the tag “low carb,” they still are unhealthy.
14. Whole Grains: They may contain refined flour with hardly any “whole grain” percentage.
15. Gluten Free: The hype surrounding gluten free + weight loss is pushing more and more food companies to opt for this tag, but people “without” gluten intolerance would hardly benefit from using such products, especially when most of them have low-fiber content.
16. Made with Real Fruits: They might have a low percentage of fruit and a higher percentage of fruit flavour with synthentic chemicals.
How To Avoid Being Tricked by Misleading Labels:
1. Don’t fall for attractive packaging and fancy words on the front of the product, always turn the product around to get the full picture. No matter what the front label says, don’t let it fool you! Front labels are often luring and convincing, and in most cases, false!
2. Consider the first three ingredients mentioned on the list because they make the largest part of the product. If the label says, it’s a “real fruits” and the ingredients list doesn’t contain any fruit in the first three, keep the product back and move forward. Avoid products that contains refined flour which means maida in layman terms, hydrogenated oil, and palm oil. If the ingredients is longer than 2-3 lines, then it suggests that it is highly processed and your body definitely doesn’t need such products.
3. Read the fine print on the packaging, that’s where the truth about the product is hidden.
4. Make it a point to check what ** has to say on the product.
5. With more than than five ingredients, it’s a processed food.
6. Not sure if a product has hidden sugar in it, check this list to find out different ways to avoid added sugar. High fructose corn syrup, maltose, dextrose, fructose are all sugar and they are processed in the body in the same way as white sugar. Also read: “48 Different Names for Sugar Added Sneakily in Processed Food.”
7. Read Nutrition Label: It would be a great habit to spend some time and check nutrition labels of food products because they would clearly depict in detail total calories, saturated fat content, added sodium or sugar levels. Also, you would be able to eliminate the possibility of transfat making into your diet by reading the label properly.
8. Check out the Serving Size: Nutrition labels show standard amount of calories and nutrients of the product, with respect to a single serving. However, these serving sizes are much smaller than what an average person consumes. Consider this, one serving might be half a pack of biscuit, or half a bottle of soda, or half a chocolate bar, or of one single chocolate bar. In this manner, the manufacturers trick the consumer into thinking that the food contains fewer calories. If you really want to count your calories to stay in a calorie deficit (in order to lose weight), multiply the calories amount given at the back with the amount you consumed.
Summing up, never skip reading the ingredients list on products and avoid processed foods as much as possible. Prepare meals at home for higher nutritional value and healthier body. Also, if weight loss is on your mind, Rati Beauty diet with its healthy meal plan will help you make informed choices with regards to food so that you can lose weight by eating the right kind of food.