Food Labels do a Great Job of Misleading Consumers
Maintaining a healthy weight or even beginning a weight loss program starts with examining your daily nutritional intake. It’s all about balance; too much of “this” and not enough of “that” could be detrimental to your success. Reading and understanding food labels and how manufacturers can manipulate them is one of the first steps on your journey.
Read the Label Carefully
Manufacturers in the U.S. have to adhere to strict guidelines when placing food facts on their labels, but that doesn’t mean that what you see is actually what you get. Take sugar for instance, its listed as Sugar and Total Carbohydrates (because carbs get broken down to sugars and then synthesized into glucose to be used as energy). Even though a label lists sugar plainly as an ingredient, there could be other sources of sugar in the product whose name you may not recognize, i.e., Dextrose, Fructose, Evaporated cane juice, High-fructose corn syrup, Honey, Invert sugar, Maltodextrin (or dextrin) and the list goes on.
The Front Verses the Back
Advertisers want your money, so they design packages to be enticing and attractive. Not only are the colors inviting, but the words are as well. Since you normally look at the front of a package first, because this is how they grab you, this is where you’ll see words like “low fat,” “0 trans fats,” “low carbs” or “20% less salt.” But is it really? If you look at the ingredients on the label, on the back, you’ll be able to decipher exactly what they’re talking about. Yes, the product may have 0 trans fats, but if its replaced with saturated fat, that really isn’t much better now is it?
Sizing up the Real Serving
On the food label you’ll see where it lists the calories, the serving size and the percentage of fat calories you get from each serving. Good, right? Well, maybe. Let’s look at a 20 ounce cola as an example. If the label says something like one serving is 10 ounces and 140 calories, that works if you only drink ½ of the bottle. But who does that? If you drink the whole bottle (which is what most people do), you’re actually drinking two servings and ingesting almost 300 calories.
Word Games Manufacturers Play
When you see a package that says “100% Natural” you may automatically assume that this product is a healthy choice or good for you. That may not be the case. Manufacturers often use these words to entice you to buy, but the word actually has no meaning when it comes to describing a food product.
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