Ok, so this is most definitely my favorite way to explain marketing and reading labels! Think about it, just because something is natural doesn’t mean we want to eat it right?
Companies are selling you an experience, an emotion, a state of mind. Quite brilliantly they use words like “Just for you” (that idea of you deserve it) & words we mistakenly associate with healthy, like gluten free or sugar free. Marketing is not just a product. It is a tested and perfected package in bright pretty colors that practically jumps into your shopping cart.
In order to know what’s really in your food, you have to know how to get past the words that don’t actually promise nutrition or value. Let’s review a few words that do not equal “healthy” for you:
Natural, natural flavoring, Organic, Gluten Free
- Natural flavoring – Beaver anus glands (used in some vanilla extract) & crushed beetles (red dye) both fall into the category of “natural flavoring” Some foods labeled “natural flavor” may have 50-100 ingredients under that one ingredient.
- Natural – Raw chicken can be injected with corn syrup because corn is “natural”.
- Organic – Check out the clean and dirty list for produce. As far as processed foods you’re not increasing your nutritional value. An organic cheese curl is still a cheese curl. You are however ensuring there are no pesticides like round up.
- Gluten Free – In short gluten can be hard to digest and should be avoided like the plague for those with celiac. For others it may be an intolerance and you just feel better avoiding it. Buying regular pasta compared to gluten-free pasta is not going to help you lose weight if that is your goal.
Other words include Sugar Free, Zero calories, Fat free, diet, no sugar added, free range, and cage free! What about foods that are listed on the label but you may not know what they mean?
- Sodium Nitrate (lunch meat, hotdogs, bacon)
- Monosodium Glutamate (soups, seasoning, chips)
- Aspartame (artificial sweetener accidently discovered by scientist)
- Partially Hydrogenated Oil (many processed snacks)
- Soy Lecithin (waste after processing soy oil, not to be confused with lecithin that can be found naturally in eggs and other foods)
All of the above are specifically added to food to increase shelf life, keep fat and oil from separating, and/ or change the color. These foods should be avoided (in excess) whether they are marked organic or not. Many of them are associated with carcinogens (cancer causing), inflammation, gastrointestinal issues, wreaking havoc on the nervous system and more.
The best thing you can do is try to get the majority of your foods from whole foods. Remember, it should have a mother or grow from the ground!