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8 Sneaky Buzzwords on Food Labels That Are Major Red Flags

See these and you'll want to leave that item on the shelf.

When you're in the supermarket filling up your cart with the necessities, it's only natural to wander down the snack aisle, or any of the aisles that are loaded up with processed foods. There's nothing wrong with a little indulgence every once in a while! But you want to make sure you have all the information before you make a decision on which foods to buy, and you don't want to end up being fooled.

That's right, there are some very common yet sneaky food descriptors and phrases on the labels of these packaged foods that you might not realize are immediate red flags. Keep an eye out for these buzzwords as they signify that the food in question is truly one to avoid, even if is for a cheat meal. (And in case you were wondering what certain foods actually do to you, check out What Happens to Your Body When You Drink a Smoothie Every Day.)



If you happen to see the phrase "double-stuffed" on a cookie package, that's just double the trouble. These snacks are often loaded up with more filling, which means double the sugar. No thanks!

Meat Lovers

meat lovers pizza

Thinking of splurging on a frozen pizza? Well, you'll want to stop yourself from picking up any that are described as a "meat lovers" pie. This means the slices are topped with a medley of meats including pepperoni, sausage, and even bacon. Eating one of these pizzas is going to mean the sodium and fat are much higher, and it's no secret that frozen foods are already packing with the salty stuff. Go with a veggie-loaded pie instead!


baked potato chips

If you're treating yourself to a bag of potato chips, you might think going for the "baked" option is better for you. But don't fall for the trap! You can't just automatically assume it's a healthier option compared to all of its fried counterparts. They might be lower in fat, but there are plenty of baked chips that are just as or even more sodium-filled. Be sure to read the nutrition breakdowns before choosing a bag.


toaster pastry

"Frosted" is a fun way to just say "this has tons of sugar." If a baked good like a toaster pastry has frosting on it, that means it's loaded up with more added sugar. When it doubt, go for a plain option so you can fully enjoy this sweet treat.

Triple or Five Cheese

mac and cheese

Craving some boxed pasta? If you happen to find an option that is said to be "three-cheese" or "five-cheese," just know this is one you're going to want to skip over. These overly cheesy options tend to be higher in calories and sodium. Stick to the original!

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fish sticks

Deciding to munch on some chicken tenders or fish sticks from the freezer aisle might bring on a wave of nostalgia, but you'll want to leave these behind if they're said to be "battered," especially "beer battered."

Light/Smart Choice

man and woman eating popcorn

Some snacks are labeled as a "light" option or described as a "smart choice," but you still want to take a closer look. Most of the time, these foods have other questionable ingredients to make up for what they're lacking. Just because something is said to be low-cal doesn't mean it's any healthier for you.

Share/Party Size

Candy bar

If you're deciding to go with candy as your treat, you might notice the various sizes of bags and bars that are available. If you see some that are labeled as a "share" or "party size," you really want to make sure you'll have people around to actually share with when the time comes.

It's very easy to mindlessly eat an entire bag of M&M's or a Hershey bar, no matter the size. Choose a mini option if you can, or go ahead and portion the candy out so it lasts you a few days. That way you won't overindulge in one serving and you'll avoid consuming too much added sugar.

Jennifer Maldonado
Jennifer Maldonado is a senior editor at Eat This, Not That!, specializing in food and health content. Read more about Jennifer