Food Labels Mislead
September 24, 2009

gr_foodstuff_wideweb__470x446,2Well I’m not that health conscience, but when I did think I was making healthier choices with my groceries I was often wrong.  The bread says “whole wheat” but it almost completely white enriched flour. The cereal “Smart Start” is labeled one of the healthiest options but has more sugar (17 g) than “Fruit Loops” (12 g).   The nutrition bars I thought were nutritious  aren’t really at all.

The symbols and labels food companies use to sell their product can be completely misleading.  Watch story here.  If you don’t know what to look for you can easily be fooled.  In talking to shoppers I found many people read labels and notice symbols like hearts and such, thus leading them to buy a product. But many have no clue that they’re not at all putting what they think in their bodies.

Thanks to nutritionist Molly Kimball I changed three main things in my personal grocery shopping.  I am big on cereal, nutrition bars for grab-and-go breakfast at 3:30 am, and pasta….. yum.  Now I’m going with “Special K Protein Plus” cereal and South Beach Living High Protein or TLC peanut butter  cereal bars.  These changes have had no negative effect on my budget,  the healthiest choices aren’t always the most expensive.  I also learned that I can budget on pasta sauce because as they all have the same nutrition value no matter if they are .99 or 5.50 with the exception of sodium levels for those who need to be aware.

An extra tip not in my story is a rule of thumb … we noticed while shopping that if the product has a couple of specific nutrition numbers very clearly advertised on the front it is usually a good product. (i.e. “sugar 2g, fiber 9g)  You’ll notice the less healthy options (no matter what they are called or look like on the cover) hide the nutrition information on the back panel. These are often the labels you see that read generic phrases like “low fat” or “wheat.”

Here is the link to the Ochsner/Rouses Choose Healthy Grocery List  that makes it very easy for you to choose the healthiest options.   These items are lowest in saturated, trans fats and processed carbohydrates.  They will also add whole grain, protein-rich and vitamin/mineral-rich foods in your diet.

Here’s a recent article I found about the green check “Smart Choices” program raising debate.