Translating Food Labels – Part 2

Food manufactures use an array of clever marketing strategies in an attempt to convince consumers that their new and improved products are “better for you”, when they are really just “less awful for you.” This skews our perception of what it really means to be healthy and as such, our relationship with our food and eventually our perception of well being, spirals out of control and we end up in a world of doubt, depression and frustration. Sound familiar? Want my best advice? You need to get food educated… Last week I delved into the world of food label myths, exposing things like “low-fat” and the dangers of “gluten-free” mass production (you can read about this here). Today I delve into part 2, kicking things off with all things sugar free:


Products claiming to be low in sugar or sugar-free are usually artificially sweetened with products containing aspartame. Aspartame, like MSG, is an excitotoxin. It is comprised of methanol, phenylalanine and aspartic acid. Aspartame can be found in diet sodas and most other diet products however, research indicates that the sweetener increases your hunger and can actually work against your weight loss. Aspartame has also been linked to cancer, birth defects, vision problems, brain seizures and diabetes. Skip the sugar-free sweetness kick and grab an apple instead.


greenpackAccording to research green is a found-in-nature color, so we associate it with health, even when we shouldn’t. One study in the journal Health Communication found that consumers are more likely to think a snack bar with a green label is healthier than those with white or red labels–even if they are identical in every other way. If you are buying packaged foods, read the list of ingredients, don’t be tempted by the colour of the packaging, green does not necessarily mean healthy.


The “Made With Organic Ingredients” label means the food must be made with at least 70 percent organic ingredients, three of which must be listed on the package. The remaining 30 percent can be anything the production team decide and may include harsh chemicals or additives you thought you were avoiding, this is especially the case with beauty products, be wary.


madewithaddedvitDesigned to make us think this form of processed food comes with all the benefits of fruits and veggies, this label is prevalent in the cereal, bread and snack aisles of the supermarket. Vitamins A, C, E and the Bs are added to cereal, breads and lunchbox snacks. The truth? Science shows that separating vitamins and minerals from one food and putting them in another doesn’t offer the same disease-fighting benefits. More often than not these added vitamins are synthetic forms and are nowhere near as beneficial to your health. Get your vitamins, minerals and antioxidants from real, whole foods, like veggies, fruits, whole grains and lean meats.


If the product you have purchased has a shelf life longer than you have owned your mobile phone, ditch it. We eat foods to gain life, to replenish our cells, muscles and organs to help us thrive. Food that nourishes our body is a perishable item i.e. strawberries last 4-5 days, broccoli lasts 10-12 days, beef best before 3-5 days, Arnotts shapes on shelves today expire in November 2014 and a chocolate ‘Up and Go’ expires October 2014…  Foods lasting longer than your i-phones operating software system upgrade aren’t real foods and you will get no benefit from them. Eat to nourish your body and ditch the cardboard.


bakednotfriedMost consumers associate the word “baked” with “healthy”. This would certainly be true in home cooking: a baked potato, for example, would be a more nourishing choice than a fried potato however, this is not necessarily the case for foods found on the supermarket shelves. These goods are often baked in highly processed vegetable oils that still damage our health, check your list of ingredients. Your best bet is to simply make your own.


If you flip over the package of any processed food and can’t pronounce some of the items listed in the ingredients list, don’t eat them. They are artificial in every way shape and form and will only cause your body to struggle.


  1. Gina Hughes

    Elise … i always love reading your newsletters … there is such great information in there that is well explained. Thank you so much for making the effort!

  2. kelly

    These 2 food labelling posts – great reading, I was at the GF expo in melbourne yesterday talking to a guy from forage cereal who saying the exact same thing about GF food, how everyone seems to think its healthy – he was very disappointed about the lack of good quality GF food there.
    However to my question – I’ve been making the ‘switch’ to try and eliminate as much sugar from diet, and whilst on not there completely i am trying. I’ve come across a great website where medjool dates are used to sweeten cakes/treats – can you tell me where they sit on the fructose scale? Good or bad? thanks 🙂


  1. How to read a Food Label | An Apple a day - […] might also like my posts on ‘Translating Food Labels Part 1′ and ‘Translating Food Labels Part 2′. Here I…

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Meet Alyse

I’m a qualified Nutritionist who believes an evidence-based approach to modern nutrition is severely under-rated. Patients are so often left in the dark when it comes to health-care and as a firm believer in the old saying “knowledge is power”, my ultimate goal is to provide my readers, students and patients with clear and actionable advice that ultimately helps you reach your full potential.