There is no question: we are becoming more interested in what we are eating and starting to look for healthier, low-calorie foods with natural ingredients. With the rise of chronic diseases and obesity rates we are starting to acknowledge that what we eat may be contributing to our declining health, and seeking out foods that are better for us. Food companies are recognizing the changing consumer so they are doing what they can in order to meet the demand. How are they doing this? Well, one would think by changing their product into something better but that is not always the case. Their main approach is to market their food product as healthy and natural getting you to believe you are making a wiser choice by purchasing their product.
Walking down the grocery aisle you are on a mission to bring home healthier foods for you and your family. As you scan the packaging you see certain words stamped across your favorite foods that finalize the decision to them in your shopping cart. These particular words are “healthy”, “natural”, “heart-smart”, “low-calorie”, “whole-grain”, “daily serving”, “fat-free”, “low cholesterol”, “dietary fibre” or “excellent source”. How can one go wrong with these upgraded products? Unfortunately these words are marketing tools to create the illusion they are healthy and convince you to buy them.
A good strategy to figure out what product is healthier than another is to read the ingredients and not the calories. Food companies have to print all the ingredients in a food product. If you can’t pronounce the ingredients there is a pretty good chance it is not natural (or healthy). Also checking the amount of sugar that is in a food product is another really good way of deciding if it is healthy or not. Food products that contain more than 4 grams of sugar per serving are not very healthy; a yogurt cup can contain up to 8 grams of sugar. That equals to two teaspoons of sugar in one small little cup! You may as well go for the chocolate pudding.
There has been a lot of talk going on about how processed foods are unhealthy and making us fat. The food companies usually respond to this as it is the responsibility of the consumer to make better choices. However, they purposely try to misguide us in believing they are providing healthy products, so as consumers we need to remember that their vested interests are not in our health as a society but the pocket-lining of their stakeholders. You are better off reading the food labels than taking the “healthy” words splattered across the packaging at face-value.