7 “health food” terms to beware of

candy jar weight lossThe companies that label their foods have expert marketers. They know that certain words and phrases give consumers the impression that the food itself is less bad for them. That perception is what makes you want to buy or eat certain brands. Here are some of the tricks they use to distract you from other ingredients.

1. Organic
When something is “organic,” it doesn’t mean the food is magically healthy. It means that it’s made organically. An organic cookie can still be loaded in sugars, carbs and calories.

2. Local
This is similar to “organic.” A local food isn’t necessarily nutritious just because it was made in your vicinity. Look at the ingredients and nutrition info.

3. Fair-trade
Fair-trade means the workers who processed the food were paid fairly. This is a good thing, but it doesn’t affect what substances are in the food. Many people perceive it as a “health” label.

4. Natural
This term is not defined by the FDA, and food companies use it liberally. Some consider high fructose corn syrup “natural” because it’s derived from corn. This couldn’t be more misleading.

5. No sugar added
“No sugar added” does NOT mean sugar-free. It means that they don’t increase the level of sugar that is already in the food. A product with “No Sugar Added” could still have 50 grams of sugar.

6. Fat-free
This label has misled so many consumers it deserves a reward. Fat-free does not indicate a super food. It just means it has no fat. There are plenty of sugar-filled candies that are “fat-free.”

7. Gluten free
Gluten can be bad for people with gluten intolerance (obviously). For most everyone else, it doesn’t really matter. Gluten-free foods are not better for weight loss.

Note: None of these terms are necessarily bad or false. They are often used, however, to mislead (or distract) consumers into thinking the product is healthy for them. Don’t get sucked into this trap. Read the labels and nutrition info carefully. When it comes to any kind of food, use your brain! You’re smart enough, I promise.
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Image credit: Becka Spence

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