Health vs. Healthy Food: What’s the Difference?Oct 15, 2023
Food marketing can have a major influence our food choices. Companies will use a variety of techniques to make their products look more nutritious than they actually are, and it can be difficult to tell the difference between “health foods” and truly healthy food.
Here are some common marketing tricks that can be misleading about the nutritional quality of food:
- Buzzwords on the packaging: Words like "natural," "organic," "plant-based," and "low fat" can make a product sound healthier than it really is. Just because something is organic doesn’t necessarily make it healthier than alternatives. An organic cookie is still a cookie at the end of the day.
- Focus on specific nutrients: Companies may highlight the presence of certain nutrients in their products, such as protein or fiber. This can be misleading if the product is high in other unhealthy ingredients. For example, a cereal may be marketed as a good source of fiber, but it may also be high in sugar and saturated fat.
- Appeal to emotions and trends: Companies may use trendy images or words to make their products seem more appealing. For example, they may use images of fit individuals to make it seem like their products fit in a weight loss or sports category.
- Be skeptical of buzzwords. Don't just assume that a product is healthy because it's labeled with buzzwords like "natural" or "low fat."
- Read the ingredients list carefully. Avoid products that are high in processed ingredients, added sugar, and saturated or trans fats.
- Focus on eating whole, unprocessed foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins.
- Don't let your emotions get the best of you. Remember that food companies are trying to sell you their products, so they may use emotional appeals to make you buy them.
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