Some people say to never trust a label and others say that the label is 100% truthful. Who should I believe?Not Every Label Is As True As You'd Like It To be.
Sounds like strange advice doesn’t it? Perhaps it is, but I will be honest. In today’s food marketing industry, there is so much trickery being used, that label reading seems to be getting us into trouble more than it is helping.
Food manufacturers have always been guilty of preying on our fears relating to food, but it seems to be ramping up even more in the past couple of years. It started many years ago with an abundance claims such as “light” and “no cholesterol”, followed by “no trans fat” and “low carb”, and now everything on earth is “gluten free” or “lactose free”, even HAM!! Wait a minute. Ham? Well, thank goodness for gluten free pigs I suppose. I threw my hands up in despair when I saw a display of pears, and the sign accompanying it said “100% grass fed”. I was a bit disappointed. I think it would be quite a bit of fun watching a pear trying to eat a juicy rack of lamb, don’t you?
Food manufacturers are permitted to get away with an awful lot in terms of what they put on their labels. Much of the phrases they use are left up to our interpretation, which is why it is important to truly evaluate each label for yourself. Think it through. Here are a few hints about some of the tricks we seem to be falling for:
Gluten free: Maybe so, but many gluten free products are full of so many other “garbage” ingredients to help hold the product together, that we would have been better off with the gluten. We have all seen a version of the “gluten free’ cauliflower pizza circulating on Pinterest, Instagram and various foodie sites. It relies on huge amounts of artery-clogging cheese to bind the “crust” together, so of course it tastes delicious!
Multigrain: Not necessarily better. Check to see how much fibre is actually in most “multigrain” breads, etc. Often not very much, because these grains are as processed and denatured as most white products. And “brown” bread? It is basically just white bread, with a couple of drops of caramel colouring to make it look a bit darker.
No sugar added: This does not mean the product isn’t high in sugar already. It usually means that the product is already so sweet, that more sugar is not necessary to make it taste sweet. It is already there!
No trans fat: One of those phrases used on products that never did contain trans fats, but it is used to make us think it is something that has been removed. Remember though, many products that contain “good” fats can become trans fats, if the product requires that you bring it home and cook it at a sizzling high heat.
Free range: This means the animal has some access to the outdoors, but does not necessarily mean it pecks seed and lives a happy little life. The animal could be kept in a cage the majority of the time, but if it has access to wander around for a millisecond or two, food suppliers can use this on their labels.
Fat free/Low Fat: This doesn’t mean the product isn’t high in calories. In fact the opposite is usually true. Fat makes food taste good. Without it, manufacturers have to use other ways of making food taste nice. Sugar is the usual “go to.” Most fat free and low fat products rely on large quantities of sugar and other garbage to make things taste good. And the easiest way to get the “percentage” of fat a bit lower on a tub of yogurt? Add a bit more sugar; the percentage of fat goes down. And so on. “Fat free” is also used as a distraction for products that are almost completely sugar. Check out most packages of sugary candies. A package of “gummy worms” for instance will almost always say “fat free.”
All natural: Another terribly misleading phrase. Many products contain corn syrup, corn starch, etc, but because corn itself is natural, manufacturers have the green light to use “natural” on their labels. Take a look at a tub of ice cream. Ice cream is known to contain dozens of poisonous chemicals, but throw in a vanilla bean to flavor it, and voila! It is also given a pass to use “natural ” on its label.
Cholesterol free: Another example of telling us something isn’t in the product, even though it never was in the product. “Cholesterol free” potatoes? No kidding!
Light: This is a very common trick. The problem here is that the word “light” could be referring to just about anything. It could be referring to the taste being light, or perhaps the colour of the product is lighter than another.
The bottom line is that we need to use our heads. Manufacturers of food products have only one objective and that is to sell us their products. The laws around wording on food labels is vague at best, so don’t assume “they” are on your side. They aren’t!
Arleigh is a well-known and highly respected personal trainer and group fitness instructor with over 20 years of experience in Mississauga, ON. She boasts an extensive list of satisfied clients of every type. Whether you are getting on in years and are dealing with the aches, pains, stiffness and borderline injuries that go with it, or you are in good shape but want to go “up a notch” to a more elite level of fitness, or you fall somewhere in between, Arleigh knows exactly what to do to get you there. She is one of the most knowledgeable Mississauga personal trainers, and has a reputation for being very astute with every one of her clients.
Arleigh has also been a solid educator for more than 25 years, with 12 of those years specifically consolidated in the fields of health and fitness. Arleigh is responsible for certifying individuals as personal trainers and guiding them through their apprenticeships which has made her a highly sought-after fitness mentor.
If you would like to know more about Arleigh Winokur Personal Trainer Mississauga, and what the Personal Training Station in Mississauga can do for you, call her at 905-823-0293.
You can also visit Arleigh's website here!