Oh, Food Industry… How I WISH you only consisted of farmers and organic chefs… Unfortunately, that is NOT the case. So here’s a guide that I borrowed from them to help navigate the ever confusing and frustrating grocery store aisles. Healthwashing is the term used for the confusing and ambiguous terms and packaging that companies use to trick you into thinking they’re offering you something nutritious and good for you. (I just found this facebook group dedicated to it… awesome!)
When it comes to weight loss (and general health and vibrancy), one of the most effective actions can be to eliminate excess chemicals and processed foods: Get back to basics! That means preparing as much as you can from fresh, organic sources. Is it time consuming? Yep, sure is. Is it worth it? YES, YES, YES!!!
But when you have to buy something that’s pre-packaged, it is SO SO SO important to read ALL of the ingredients and to know what it is that you’re reading. We already gave you this post about sugar and how it can lurk unsuspected in a product’s ingredient lists! Here is a more inclusive list of this to know and look out for when it comes to pre-packaged and processed foods.
- Organic. Any multi-ingredient product bearing the USDA Organic seal must contain at least 95% organic ingredients. But the federal certification process is voluntary -and not every product that claims to be organic undergoes such scrutiny.
- Made with organic ingredients. At least 70% of the ingredients must be organic. The product cannot carry the USDA Organic seal.
- Non- or -free. Must have less than the following per serving: fat (0.5 gram), sugar (0.5 gram), cholesterol (2mg), or sodium (5mg).
- Low-. Generally, the product must have less than the following per serving: fat (3 grams), cholesterol (20 mg), or sodium (140 mg).
- Reduced. Generally, the product must have at least 25% less of the given component than is typically found in that type of food.
- Light. If at least half of the product’s calories come from fat, fat must be reduced by at least 50% per serving. If less than half of the calories are from fat, fat must be reduced at least 50%, or calories reduced at least 33%, per serving.
- Reduced, Added, Extra, Plus, Fortified,Enriched. These claims can be made relative to a similar representative product.
- High, Rich In, Excellent SourceOf. All designate products with at least 20% of the recommended daily amount per serving.
- Good Source, Contains, Provides. The product must have more than 10% but less than 20% of the recommended daily amount per serving.
- More, Fortified, Enriched, Added, Extra, Plus. For vitamins, minerals, protein, and fiber with at least 10% of the recommended amount per serving.
- Lean. Generally, less than 10 grams of fat.
- Extra lean. Less than 5 grams of fat.
- Certified Humane. A label for products made by non-profit organizations dedicated to humane treatment of animals. To use the label, animals must have been given no growth hormones or antibiotics, or lived in cages, crates, or stalls; and must have had “access to sufficient, clean, and nutritious feed and water.
- Naturally raised. A recent USDA standard for animals raised without growth hormones or anitbiotics.
- Natural. A term regulated only for meats and poultry — containing no artificial flavors, colors, or chemical preservatives — and otherwise meaningless.
Some label terms, although truthful, have little or no real meaning, no standards for definition -and a high potential to confuse consumers:
- Contains antioxidants
- Free-range (can mean anything from an animal that roams freely to one that is let out of its cage from time to time)
- Immunity formula
- Made with whole grains
- May lower cholesterol
- Natural (for non-meat or -poultry products)
- Natural goodness
- No trans fat
- Strengthens your immune system
Be careful! Be smart! Take good care of yourselves and your loved ones!