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Reason for Concern
September 8, 2021
4 Real Journals
September 10, 2021
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Figuring Out Food Labels

In a perfect nutritional world, we would only feed our families fresh foods in their whole and most natural forms, eliminating the need for labels that tell us what we’re eating. In the real world, busy schedules and hectic lifestyles make those ideals seem impossible, essentially requiring the not-so-occasional consumption of convenience foods, making nutrition labels necessary.

The good news is that labels are required by the Food and Drug Administration on all packaged foods to reveal the amount of calories and nutrients (fats, carbohydrates, protein, vitamins and minerals) in each serving of food, and most consumers know how to glean this basic information from the side panel. 

The bad news is as health-conscious shoppers get savvier about label-reading, some food manufacturers are getting sneakier about masking their more questionable ingredients, tricking consumers into thinking foods have high nutritional content, when they may actually be unhealthy or even harmful.

Texas-based certified nutritionist and health coach Allison Weaver says these deceptive practices mean that consumers must improve their label-reading skills in order to truly know what they’re putting in their bodies.

“Reading labels can be confusing and infuriating because packagers are changing the names of taboo ingredients to make products seem more attractive,” she says.

Another trick is pushing trendy terms associated with the latest health craze to lure hurried shoppers. Buzzwords like “all-natural,” “high protein” or “no high fructose corn syrup” appeal to well-intentioned shoppers, but don’t always mean a product is healthy.

“The labels tout the latest nutrition craze or boast huge amounts of health benefits on a product that’s really only a candy bar or cheese doodle in disguise,” Weaver says.

 

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