Be wary of “healthy” marketing claims for food items. Labels can be misleading, and claims of health benefits are typically untrue and are slanted toward selling what’s in the box. Remember that eating is different from nourishing. Eating is simply consuming food, while nourishing is about choosing foods that contain vitamins, minerals, and fiber to help your body and mind grow stronger and perform better.

Here are common misleading claims found on many food products, along with the truth about what they may contain:

  • “All natural” – There may not be any artificial colors or flavors, but the product could contain strange natural preservatives, added sodium and even high fructose corn syrup.
  • “Multi-grain” – Instead, look for whole grain and 100% whole wheat. Multi-grain may be refined, which eliminates the benefits derived from the whole grain. Also, dark-colored breads and crackers may contain added colors and sugars.
  • “Light” and “fat-free” – While these both seem appealing to those watching their weight, many of these items are not lower in calories. In many cases, sweeteners are added to compensate for the lack of flavor caused by removing the fat.

Pay attention to serving sizes, which are unrealistically small for most people. Manufacturers frequently list a small portion size in order to claim lower fat and calories (0 grams trans fat per serving, etc.).

Look for items with less than 10 grams of sugar per serving, but beware of those that claim to be “sugar free” since these products can be higher in calories. Also, real sugar is sometimes replaced with sugar alcohols, which can cause digestive problems.

Bottom line: If a package has unidentifiable ingredients, avoid it because it may be difficult for your body to process those ingredients.