By: Hannah Gill

      Thinking about a healthy lifestyle I was walking around the grocery store earlier today trying to find some  new snacks to have, being the new year I thought I’d try out some of the new products and I was overwhelmed by all the ‘health claims’ on the packaging! It made me realize how hard it can be to pick a new product and how companies may make us think a product is much healthier than it really is!

        I picked out a few terms that I saw today and looked into them to see how much truth there was behind what the packaging was telling me.
  • ·         Foods labelled with ‘multi-grain’, ‘’stone-ground’, ‘wheat’, ‘bran’ or ‘seven grain’ may not be wholegrain products- check the ingredients list for ‘100% whole grain’ to be sure you are choosing a wholegrain product.
  • ·         A ‘calorie-free’ item has less than 5kcal per serving but be aware of what the serving size is as if you are having multiple servings of that food the calories can start to add up.
  • ·         Fat Free’ this means a product has less than 0.5g fat per serving, these are good choices to opt for but again check the serving size as if the statistics are based on a small portion size it can add up quickly.
  • ·         Light’ in salt terms means the product has 50% less salt that the original ‘regular’ version, this may not mean the product is now ‘low sodium’ so read the packaging carefully.
  • ·         Watch out when you’re buying an item described as ‘natural’, no formal definition of ‘natural’ has been issued by the government. ‘Natural’ on a food label may indicate no added colors, artificial flavors or synthetic substances have been added. Although a set definition is present for ‘natural’ on meat or poultry products which tells us the product has been minimally process and no artificial ingredients have been added. 
  • ·         ‘Organic’ has very specific definition, a product with ‘organic’ on the label means 95% of the products ingredients qualify as being certified organic, ‘100% organic’ indicates all the products ingredients qualify as organic, and ‘Made with organic ingredients’ indicates 70% of the ingredients are certified organic.

Check out the food packaging the next time you’re at the grocery store, try looking past the claims on the packaging and make a decision yourself if you think that food is suitable for your healthy lifestyle, ask questions and look a little deeper you may find some items you’ve been picking are in fact food fakers!

For more information on food labels remember to check the ‘Shop Smart’ handout in your going home pack that was given to you at the end of your summer session at camp.