The healthiest foods are those which are label free and packaged by Mother Nature, such as a banana or corn on a cob. However, if you are buying pre-packaged foods in plastic or paper, grocery shopping becomes a little more complicated.
The packaging is usually stamped with misleading health claims and clever wording by food manufacturers to con you into thinking that the product is healthy. Some of the foods we find in supermarket shelves today epitomise modern day laziness and dependence.
I understand many of us are time poor but surely we can find to make time to undergo the simplest tasks of basic food preparation. While many of us prefer to buy the healthier versions of a particular food product, we often rely on the labeling to help us decide what to buy. But when it comes to food marketing, are we being spammed?
Here are some marketing tactics to be aware of so you don’t fall victim to the countless advertising tactics used to persuade us to buy their products.
This term is thrown around very lightly when it comes to food labelling and is often accompanied by pictures of produce or grains to imply that the food is unprocessed and good for you. The word ‘Natural’ doesn’t actually mean anything and is unregulated when it comes to Australian food standard guidelines. It beats me how can something with a shelf life of several months, even years, be deemed as be natural? I’m pretty sure the colours from that party mix don’t occur naturally in nature.
But usually high in sugar and God knows what else. When food manufacturers remove the fat from a particular product, such as dairy, it becomes a watery and bland and tastes awful! Fat is where the flavour, goodness and sustenance is! Instead, they replace the fat with sugar and chemicals to compensate.
Made from real fruit juice
Which has often been reconstituted. Meaning it was once orange juice, boiled until all of the liquid has evaporated, then frozen as a concentrate until it needs to be used by food manufacturers. At which time, water is then re-added, along with synthetic vitamins (which were lost during the heating process). Oh so clever!
Just because it’s got no calories, it does not make it a health food!
Light in what exactly?? This can mean so many different things! Light in colour, light in texture. Light in weight, lower in calories or fat than the original product.
A lot of commercial gluten-free products on the market today are just as bad, if not worse than their gluten counterparts. In place of wheat flour, they substitute products with gluten-free flours made from rice starch, cornstarch, tapioca and potato starches. These replacements are nasty, and in no way healthy substitutes. My advice is to avoid em’ all together.
Right across the board, sports drinks are a no-no. They are full of sugar, artificial colours, flavours and super high in calories. If you think a perfectly chilled Powerade is going to cure your hangover, think again. Give your poor kidneys and liver a break and opt for coconut water. What amazes me about this drink is our tongues resemble that of an avatar within minutes of consumption, yet our kidneys have the ability to filter out the colouring to ensure it comes out clear at the other end. It’s truly fascinating!
Instant cuppa soup
This powdered, highly processed instant creation which comes in a flimsy disposable cup is a definitely something to steer clear of if you want to stay healthy. The shrivelled up bits of peas and corn hardly constitute to your 5+ a day, not to mention the added preservatives, sodium, MSG and other mystery ingredients which make up the contents – At only 80 calories per serve, it’s got to be healthy!
Thanks to very clever marketing and advertising, breakfast cereals are among the most profitable foods dominating the supermarket shelves today. And what’s frightening is the way they are targeted at children. The highly processed puffed, flaked and sugared grains are so void of nutrients due to heavy processing and are then fortified with synthetic vitamins and minerals and marketed as health foods. Take Kellogg’s Nutrigrain for instance, the added iron is in the form of actual metal – Which can be extracted with a magnet. Yep, that’s right. Food manufactures literally add iron metal shavings to the cereal. If you don’t believe me, check this out. Maybe there is some truth behind the Iron Man after all.
This artery clogging man-made fat is formed when a vegetable oil (liquid at room temperature) is hydrogenated to become solid at room temperature. Marketed as a healthy option to butter, margarine is full of trans-fats and is seriously bad for human health. It’s best to stick with old-fashioned, good quality butter. I consider grass-fed, organic butter as a health food. It’s a great source of fat-soluble vitamins D, K, E and A.
I know, sometimes it’s tough. Try to do the best you can with what ever situation you’re in. This may mean choosing a tin of tuna and packet of microwaved rice instead of nipping down to the closest takeaway food outlet for a dirty butter chicken for lunch.
It’s all about education and prioritising when it comes to food and health.
While it does pay to pay attention to the nutritional label, it’s also equally important to check the list of ingredients. Instead of focusing on the calorie, fat or sugar content on the nutritional label, start to focus on the list ingredients. The ingredients are listed in order of quantity. If the ingredients listed are real food (not chemicals) then you need not to worry so much the fat, sugar and calorie content.
The bottom line?… Just Eat Real Food.