10 Misleading Food “Labels” and What They REALLY Mean
Part of being prepared is keeping your mind and body in decent shape. Eating right and exercise should be something you do every day. But sometimes that is not always easy. Especially when you aren’t sure if what you are eating is really healthy or not. Hopefully this article will begin to show you that sometimes, what you think is healthy may not be.
Hopefully, you are more conscience about what you eat AND what goes into the food you eat. America has become caught up in a health food craze. (That’s not a bad thing!) And trust me, the “food industry” is taking notice.
For example, many fast food restaurants are now offering “healthy” alternatives. More research is being done into GMOs. And more “health food” stores are springing up.
As a result, food companies are changing their labels and how their food is packaged and presented to the public. But as always, some of this can be a bit misleading. Here are 10 “misleading” food labels, and what they really mean!
Labeling food “natural” or “all-natural” is a really just a way to get people to think that the product is healthier than others because it comes from nature. In fact, “all-natural” is an very general and vague term for which the FDA doesn’t even have an officially recognized definition.
According to the USDA, meat can be labeled “all-natural” as long as it doesn’t contain any artificial ingredients or chemical preservatives. However, it can be full of broth or saline water.
And finally,“all-natural” does NOT mean “GMO-free.”
I see this one a lot. Cholesterol is produced by the liver, so only animal-based products like dairy, meat, and eggs contain it. That means that products like olive oil or vegetables are already cholesterol free!
Be aware that when you see “cholesterol-free” on other animal products. They can still contain up to two milligrams of cholesterol and be labeled cholesterol-free.
A food item can be called fat free if it contains less than half a gram of fat per serving. Hopefully by now most people realize that “fat free” doesn’t mean “healthy”. The problem with fat-free foods is that they can still contain the same amount of calories and sugar as their full-fat counterparts. And in some cases, even more sugar. In addition, the natural animal or vegetable fat is replaced by artificial substitutes which are not always healthier.
Hate to break it to you, but “fat free” doesn’t mean it is healthy.
This term has become very popluar lately, and usually conjures images of happy chickens or cows grazing peacefully on the open prairie. Really, the USDA only requires a few minutes of open-air access per day for this designation. What’s more, this can equal about 5 minutes worth of access to a hole that the chickens can stick their heads through.
As for eggs and beef, there is absolutely NO standard for calling those “free range” whatsoever.
Don’t be fooled by this label. It really does not mean squat!
Made with Real Fruit
Read the label on anything made with “Real fruit”. If one of the first ingredients is high fructose corn syrup, you know that the actual fruit in the product is minimal. These products could contain as little as a single drop of fruit juice per serving for the FDA to allow this label.
Hopefully consumers are catching on to this, as the food industry as begun to be hit with lawsuits over this deceptive labeling.
Made with Whole Grain
Much like the “made with real fruit” label, the “whole grain” product only needs to contain a trace amount to “earn” the label.
Instead, look for either whole-grain wheat flour or whole-wheat flour as the first ingredient; that way you can know for sure that you’re getting the real deal.
Similar to “made with whole grain,” multigrain is really a meaningless term. While “multigrain” may mean that it’s made with different grains, the actual amount of those grains can be negligible. In fact, some products even contain molasses and other coloring agents in order to make them look like they contain more whole grains than they do.
No Sugar Added
“No sugar added” means just that: no extra sugar has been thrown into the mix. But that doesn’t mean that the product was low in sugar to begin with. It could also contain large amounts of carbohydrates, which turn into sugar when processed by your body.
Juice is loaded with sugar, and even products such as milk contains a fair amount of natural sugar.
Like replacing sugar packets with Splenda in your morning coffee, sugar-free foods just swap out the real thing for its chemical equivalent. Foods labeled “sugar free” contain fewer than .5 grams of sugar per serving, but keep in mind that this doesn’t mean these foods are lower in fat, calories, or carbohydrates.
Gluten is a type of protein found in grains like wheat. For people with ailments like celiac disease, Gluten free products are wonderful. And gluten free products are becoming common place, and much easier to find.
But gluten free does not mean it is healthier. In fact, many gluten free products contain less fiber than the original. So unless you have a gluten issue, eating gluten free food has no benefit to you.
One more thing to keep in mind is the product’s serving size. Many times companies with reduce the serving size so that you think you are not eating as much as you believe you are. That bag of chips you ate while watching TV? Chances are that the bag was more than just a single serving.
Eating healthy and remaining in good physical shape are things that preppers should try to do every day. Being aware of what you are REALLY eating is a good first step in remaining healthy and active! There are books out there that will help you not only learn how to stockpile for your family, but which foods you should look at even with dietary restrictions. Eating healthy now AND after a disaster should be a priority.
Stay safe out there!