As incidences of lifestyle disorders and health problems arising largely due to improper food choices are witnessing a jump over the last few decades, reading food labels when we go grocery shopping has assumed a highly critical role. It can be quite a tricky task to read labels in the right way. In fact, marketing teams of big consumer food groups deploy all the available tools to mislead people so as to lead them to buy highly processed and health-damaging foods under the false garb of healthy foods. Even the most health-conscious group has quite a bit of difficulty reading the labels as the regulations governing food labelling is complex to decipher. Keeping in mind a few points below can help a person make the right food choices based upon the differentiation between healthy and misleading junk foods.
Go beyond the front labels
Consumer food companies often put up big health claims on the front label to lure customers into buying their products. Putting health labels on the front side of label often makes people believe in all health benefits of the same product which otherwise they would not prefer buying if they do not come listed with health claims on the front of the packaging. However, it is best to ignore these health claims as manufacturers are often dishonest about them and they use it just to push up the sales of their product. For example- many sugar loaded breakfast cereals come with front labels that project them to be quite healthy but that is not so the case.
Read the Ingredients List
A small trick to make the right food choices while doing some grocery shopping is to read the ingredient list of the products in your cart. Ingredients are labeled in the packaging, beginning from those used in the highest quantity to those present in the lowest amount. Hence, when scanning product labels, make sure you read the first three ingredients that constitute a major part of your product. If your chosen product has sugar, refined flour, and hydrogenated oils as the first 3 major ingredients then you can assume this to be unhealthy. Try going for foods that have whole foods as their major ingredients. Moreover, any product having more than 3 lines of ingredients indicates that it is highly processed.
Watch out for different names of sugar
Food manufacturers add different names of sugar to their products in the packaging label so as to mislead consumers about the actual amount of this unhealthy substance present in the product. Marketing teams use different names and types of sugar to cover up the high sugar content of their product and mask their unhealthiness. Look out for synonyms of sugar in ingredient lists to avoid accidentally consuming too much of sugar.
Look out for serving size
Food manufacturers are required to list the number of calories and nutrients present in their product during the time of their packaging so as to indicate their serving size. While doing so, food manufacturers twist the actual serving size figure to deceive people into believing that the product has fewer calories and is quite healthy. In actual, the serving sizes as present on the label is much smaller than the amount people might consume in one sitting.
Front labels on the food products are designed to mislead people into believing that they are for their better health. However, being mindful of the above points can help consumers to avoid getting tricked by false claims on food labels and sort out the junk from the finer quality foods.