making anything a health foodOne of the things we are very conscious of in our house is reading labels. We do not pay attention to the buzzwords on the package or focus on the nutrition label. The valuable information is found on the ingredient list. 

Food marketers are tricky; they do a fantastic job of confusing consumers. Phrases like gluten-free, low-fat, heart-healthy, and all-natural give us the impression that the food is good for us.  

Many of these claims are unregulated making it easy for companies to make products sound healthier than they are. They hope this will draw our attention away from the ingredients that are less than ideal. 

Let’s explore some marketing strategies companies use to try to manipulate us. 



The Company's Bottom Line

We must remember that a company’s main concern is the bottom line. Its job is to make the most money for the investors, not the healthiest food for you. If it takes some tricky marketing to get you to buy their product, most will do so without question.

Most manufacturers try to make their food addictive. Companies combine sugar, salt, fat, and chemicals in ways that make us crave their products. These products create additive-type behaviors that are not seen with less processed foods. Then they keep their costs low by making the food's shelf life as long as possible so there is less waste. This may involve using preservatives and other ingredients that are not in our best interest.   

My goals are the opposite of these companies. I do not want to feel out-of-control cravings for processed foods. I want to choose nutrient-dense food made from high-quality ingredients. This often means that the food will go bad in a relatively short time. If it will last on a shelf forever it is probably full of chemicals to keep the bacteria away. 



Rebranding Products

Health food branding expert Matt Rosenman explains some ways marketing can be deceptive in his funny videos where he rebrands candy to look like a health food. Just click on the one minute videos below to see how easy it is for marketing companies to manipulate consumers.




My Bottom Line

If we want to eat healthy it is important to outsmart these corporations. A little bit of cynicism while reading the packaging is the first step. We cannot count on a glance at the package to give us an accurate assessment of the product.  

Ignore the buzzwords, since many are unregulated making them meaningless. Use caution when looking at the nutrition label. Companies tend to make serving sizes unreasonably small to give you the impression that the calorie and sugar count is lower than it is. 

Instead, go straight to the ingredient list. Look up any ingredients you do not recognize to see if it is something you want to put in your body. This is the key to cutting through tricky marketing and getting the information you need. 



My favorite packages are the ones with a few simple ingredients. It takes the mystery out of deciding if I want to put the food in my body.

Dr. Jamie