We all want to make smart choices when shopping, but once in the grocery store after a challenging day, who wants to be taken for a fool by smart marketing? Lite, light, low, and lower? Do you really want to answer another question today?
While claims on packaged foods are regulated in Canada, the law cannot regulate your misinterpretation of the words companies are purposely using on you to entice you to add that item to your basket. Shopping smart can help you stay healthy – so here is some insight on some of the ways companies are trying to convince you to buy their packaged foods.
Light, Lite, Low, Lower and Less?
Beware of descriptive words that make you think low, because these are low blows. Light or Lite do not necessarily mean low. They could actually be referring to flavour, colour, or texture. Additionally, if you are trying to cut down on your salt intake you need to remember that, Low sodium is not the same as, lower in sodium. Using the term, Low sodium, is regulated by law and means that the food must have less than 140 milligrams of sodium per serving. Lower in sodium, implies that the food has less sodium in comparison to another product that could actually be high in sodium. With this product, you are likely consuming more sodium per serving, because the company is not saving any money by having to print four extra letters on their label claim.
When shopping, always compare the label claim to the serving size. Food product claims of 25% less sugar, may have only reduced the serving size. This means that there is still the same amount of sugar and you just need to eat less of their product. You will figure this out from reading the serving size listed on the Nutrition Facts Table, or your body may eventually tell you! Similarly, a food product may have less than 3 grams per serving and be able to call itself low fat, but if you do not check to see if they reduced the serving size, you may end up eating more fat than you want to!
Remember that when it says, fat free, companies are still adding fat to your diet. Fat free is regulated by law and means that there can only be .5 grams (or less) of fat per serving. Checking the Nutrition Facts Table is important because you could potentially accumulate more fat than you want by forgetting those so-called ‘fat free’ food products will still add up. On the other hand, when companies take out fat from their product in order to be able to claim they are fat free, they sometimes replace the fat content with more sugar or hydrogenated fat. You will want to watch out for hydrogenated fat because it is a harmful trans fat that increases bad cholesterol and reduces good cholesterol. A general rule of thumb is: the more whole ingredients a food product contains, the better it is.
The Nutrition Facts Table includes a Percent Daily Value, which will help you to know if the food contains a little or a lot of a certain ingredient. For example, if you are trying to cut down your salt intake, a Percent Daily Value with the sodium listing of less than 5% will indicate that the food product has a lower source of sodium in it.
Empower yourself with this knowledge and choose the food products you really want by having an awareness of how to interpret the claims companies may use on you to try and sell their products. You are so much smarter than these companies think.
Your health and wellness starts with a decision made by you for you.
Educate yourself and be healthy!