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Chaos in Aisle Three

For weight loss, read nutrition labelsThree misleading food labels that can make picking healthy foods a challenge

Despite our best efforts lose weight by shopping healthy at the grocery store, it can be easy to get tricked into buying foods that aren’t as good for you as they might seem. This is especially true when food manufacturers add misleading labels that may not be telling you the whole story, causing you to believe that a product is healthier than it actually is. This kind of marketing is dishonest, plain and simple, and can wreak havoc on our best dietary intentions.

Though national organizations like Center for Science in the Public Interest and the Institute of Medicine are making efforts to overhaul how foods are both labeled and marketed, the implementation of those changes is likely a long way off, so it’s important to know how to spot a faulty food label in the meantime. If you’re struggling with weight loss in New Jersey, products that feature deceptive food labels are a waste of time and money and could have a negative impact on your weight loss goals.

Here are some common misleading food labels and just what’s wrong with what they claim:

“Made with Real Fruit!” Do the items that feature this label have fruit in them? Yes, but not in the way you might think. If you see the words “Made with Real Fruit” pop up on the front of a food item, take a look at the back to see what’s really in there. The FDA doesn’t have any specific requirements for what amount of fruit needs to be in an item for it to bear this label, so that “real fruit” could be a mere one percent of what’s actually in the product, offering negligible nutritional value. Also, some food manufacturers will advertise a fruit on the front of a product, when in fact that fruit isn’t in that product at all. Make sure the products you buy can back up their claims of fruit content, and if you have any doubts, go straight to the source and just eat the fruit itself.

“Lightly Sweetened!” Think about it: what does this actually mean? The idea of something being “lightly sweetened” is entirely subjective—the FDA doesn’t regulate this claim at all and there are no concrete parameters for just how much sugar can actually be used in these products. The label makes it seem like its product is sweet without being unhealthy, while it could actually contain 100 grams of sugar (or more). If you want to cut down on sugar, keep an eye out for the “no sugar added” label instead, which is actually FDA regulated.

“Made with Whole Grains!” While many products that make this boast may contain some amount of whole grains, there’s no guarantee as to how much they have. They may, in fact, just contain trace amounts of whole grains while instead being packed with things like refined corn flour, which is a comparatively unhealthy grain. Look for labels that instead claim the product is 100 percent whole wheat or 100 percent whole grain. That way, you can rest assured that all of the food you’re eating, instead of just some, contains the fiber and nutrients that make whole grains such an important part of your diet.

Don’t get tricked by misleading food labels—they’re a waste of time, money and calories. To be a healthier grocery shopper, make sure you know exactly what’s going into each food you buy and dismiss these unrealistic food labels as what they really are: baloney.