After last week’s post you now know where to look, and certain nutrients to look out for when trolling through a supermarket. But what about all those health claims? Are they legit? Can they be trusted? If product has something ‘ free’ after its name, it means it is healthy right?

We’ve got some more tips and tricks of the trade, so you can walk away from the supermarket guilt free:

ORGANIC

Is a clever marketing term used by food manufacturers, leading many astray. Unfortunately it does not automatically mean the food product is packed full of nutritious ingredients and that it should be part of our everyday diet. For example a food product with the label organic can relate to one particular ingredient within the food product, like an organic biscuit for example may use organic flour, but it is still packed with added sugar and oil.
Organic is also used by food manufacturers in their brand name, ‘Organic Life Cereal’ anyone? The use of organic in the brand name does not mean it is a healthy choice. Brand names aren’t regulated and don’t even have to have anything to do with the food content. Meaning the ‘Organic Life Cereal’ you just put in your basket could be packed with refined sugar and laden with excess calories.

ALL NATURAL

Similar to the label organic, all natural does not necessarily mean healthy. Sugar, oil and salt are all natural ingredients, but eaten in excess can have negative effects on your health. An ‘all natural’ cake is still a cake, eaten in excess will lead to weight gain. Don’t let the labels give you the green light to over indulge.

NO ADDED SUGAR

Does not always mean the product is low in sugar but rather no extra sugar was added along the way. Check the ingredient list order, you may still find sugar is in one of the top 3 spots.

SUGAR FREE

Usually means that a sugar substitute has been used in replacement, or the food company has boosted the fat content to create flavour. This is where it is important to look at the nutrition information panel and check out the total calorie content of the food product.

The sugar free fad has been gathering momentum, especially in the social media with many popular recipes seen splashed across instagram or online labeled as sugar free.Although many of these recipes are much healthier than the counterpart alternatives,they aren’t 100% guilt free. It is common for the recipes to use maple syrup, rice malt syrup or honey as a sugar substitute – don’t be fooled into thinking you can eat abundance of your creation. These ‘sugar substitutes’ are still sugar, yes lower in total fructose content but they are still sugar, and have the same calorie content as table sugar!

LITE OR LIGHT

These terms are not regulated and do not necessarily have anything to do with the total calorie, fat or sugar content of a food item. Food manufactures use these terms to describe the flavour or the colour of a particular food product, leading many naïve individuals astray.

% FAT FREE

This one is an easy trap for over eating, with many seeing it as a green light to over indulge. To really get an idea of what you are consuming, always convert it back. For example if you buy a packet of biscuits that claims to be 90% fat free, and the standard biscuit is 30g and you eat 3 biscuits, that equates to 9g fat. What if you ate more than 3 biscuits? And that isn’t even taking into consideration the sugar content…

So next time before you start loading up your basket with organic, sugar free, lite packaged foods. STOP and ask yourself what else is really in this food product, and am I really making a healthy choice right now?