We all lie. We tell our BFFs that we like their new shoes and assure our significant others that their massive pimples are “hardly noticeable.” And people aren’t the only ones who are deceptive. Many food packaging claims and nutritional food labels lie, too—and not in the nice white lie kind-of-way. Sure, some statements on your favorite snacks are just slightly confusing or misleading; however, others are downright fraudulent, according to a recent Journal of Food Science study.
The report, which examined 1,290 breakfast cereals and 1,189 prepared meals over a period of five year, found that packaging terms and claims like “high fiber,” “healthy,” “light,” “reduced-fat,” and “organic” have very little to do with a foods’ overall nutritional quality. And unlike a white lie intended to spare a loved one’s feelings, food label lies can have serious implications for your health and body goals.
To stay on the straight and narrow toward the flat tummy you’ve always wanted, learn to ignore the front of the box. It may look like a nutrition education tool, but at the end of the day, it’s an advertisement intended to get you buy. Feel free to use front-of-package key terms like “gluten-free” to narrow the playing field, but don’t make any final decision about what to take home until you’ve read the nutrition and ingredients statement.
The top three things to remember so you can avoid being fibbed to:
- By law, the more of an ingredient a product contains, the higher it must appear on that list.
- As a rule of thumb, if sugar, refined grains, or a chemical is listed in one of the top three spots, put it back on the shelf.
- And remember: The fewer the ingredients—and the easier those ingredients are to pronounce—the better off that item is apt to be for your health.
If you’re still feeling confused after following those food label and nutritional guidelines, the best thing you can do is stick to whole foods like fruits, veggies and these 25 Best Carbs for Weight Loss.