Many of us have been tricked by misleading marketing on food packages. Brands know that advertising their product as “gluten-free”, “sugar-free”, “fat-free”, “3 grams net carbs”, or “low carb” translates to a healthy choice in minds of most people. But let me tell you, just because it’s labeled “100% natural” does not mean it is healthy. “USDA Organic” does not imply it’s good for you. You’ve got to be smarter than marketers, and that starts with educating yourself.
Start by checking nutrition labels first and foremost. If you don’t know what to look for, begin with the ingredient list. The shorter the list the better. Do you know everything that it lists? Are there added sugars? What about trans-fat? Steer clear of these things.
I’ll admit it took me awhile to learn what is actually nutritious and there are several foods that I loved, but didn’t even realize what I was actually consuming. Here are a few of the foods I see others fooled by:
Fruit Juice (AKA liquid sugar). Fruit itself is mainly composed of sugar in its natural state, which is healthy. But more times than not the fruit juice you find at stores is not 100% pure natural juice, it’s just sugar water, but even if it was pure fruit juice, I still recommend to monitor your sugar intake. Moderation is key!
Veggie Chips. Marketers know how to get you-just put vegetables on the package and claim it’s nutritious, right? Having some nutrient-dense ingredients in them doesn’t change the fact that they’re really chips and are still very processed.
Granola. Granola is often advertised as a healthy alternative to breakfast cereal, but in most cases, granola contains even more calories added sugar per serving. Choose a granola that is made with natural ingredients, that has a small ingredient list, and has less than 6 grams of sugar per serving.
Granola Bars. Much like granola, granola bars are disguised as a health food. They’re often coated with icing or chocolate and contain so much sugar. Their composed of mainly carbohydrates that will spike your blood sugar and not keep you full for very long. Choose a bar with more protein and natural ingredients.
Canned Soup. Canned anything might not be the best choice because of the extremely high salt content, often times enough to cover one third of your recommended daily sodium intake. Let’s not forget about the added sugar, either.
If you take anything away from this blog post, it better be check the nutrition label for the ingredient list! Having these things in moderation is just fine, of course, but don’t be fooled into thinking that they’re healthy and that you should eat them every day.
When checking ingredient lists, the shorter the list the better. Do you really want to consume something with ingredients that you can’t even pronounce? Be smarter, my friends. Your health is so worth it.
Don't forget to check out Fake "Health" Foods: Part 1 where we talk about peanut butter, oatmeal, yogurt, smoothies, and cereal.