Category Archives: eating

10 ways food labels mislead consumers

Day after day we learn more about how misleading food labels continue to dupe consumers with keywords and bold statements that feed into people’s dietary needs and weight loss goals. This doesn’t mean all food labels are lying because plenty of products are “fat free” or made with “real fruit,” but what about the other nutritional facts or ingredients?

Foodfacts.com observes that, unfortunately, the FDA does not regulate all food labels and cannot keep food manufacturers from using clever wording to avoid a potential lawsuit. What you can do is read the nutritional facts and ingredients list to find the truth behind the fancy wording and manipulative marketing. Here are 10 misleading food labels to look out for:

* “Zero grams trans fat”
Since trans fat have become the ultimate no-no in today’s diet, many companies have cut trans fat from their products. However, it has led way to a manipulative marketing move to promote 0 grams of trans fat, without indicating the product’s level of saturated and total fat. Food labels know people are looking for the label that says “0 grams trans fat,” but they may skip over the saturated and total fat amount, which is just as important.

* “All natural”
The “all natural” stamp is one of the most abused and misleading food labels used by food manufacturers today. Many of these so-called “all natural” products use citric acid, high-fructose corn syrup and other unnatural additives, but still get to bear that positive label. Always check the ingredients list to know exactly what’s in your food.

* “Whole grains”
Chances are you’ve seen the label, “Made with Whole Grains,” pop up on bread, crackers or rice products now more than ever. The reality is that many of these whole grain products are actually made with refined wheat flour and maybe a small percentage of whole grains. In order to check the validity of the whole grains label, check out the listed ingredients. Unless “whole grains” is one of the first ingredients on the list or if you see “enriched wheat flour,” it’s likely that your product contains a small percentage of whole grains.

* “Fiber”
Food products that contain fiber has become a growing trend in the food industry because consumers are looking for foods that are going to keep them fuller for longer, help regulate their digestive systems and lower their blood sugar. Shoppers might see their favorite cereal bar or yogurt is labeled “a good source of fiber,” but they won’t see where the fiber comes from listed anywhere. Many of the products you find with the label “contains fiber” actually contain isolated fibers, like inulin, maltodextrin, pectin, gum and other purified powders that are added to boost the not-so-fibrous foods.

* “Light”
When a food label says “light” as in “extra light olive oil,” consumers are misled to think that a product is light in fat or the fat content has been cut in half. Unless the product says reduced fat, “light” is generally referring to a lighter color of the original product, such as light-colored olive oil.

* “Heart healthy”
Many of today’s foods claim to be “heart healthy,” but don’t have FDA approval or scientific evidence to support such bold claims. These types of “heart healthy” labels mislead consumers into thinking they will improve their heart health by eating this particular food. Considering that heart disease is the number one killer in America, this food label is dangerous to promote if it’s not true.

* “Low fat”
The label “low fat” can be very misleading to consumers because, while it may be low in fat, it may also be loaded with sugar or sodium that won’t be highlighted. In addition, manufacturers are playing into people’s awareness of fats and efforts to lower their fat intake by advertising exactly what they’re looking for. Don’t be fooled by a “low fat” food label without examining the rest of the nutrition facts, and making sure that the product is well-balanced and healthy in its other areas.

* “Low sugar”
Just like “low fat” indicators, “low sugar” food labels are misleading for consumers because it plays up one nutritional factor to downplay a not-so-healthy factor, such as a high amount of calories, sugars or fat. Manufacturers also get around saying “contains sugar” by saying “lightly sweetened” or “no sugar added,” but you have to look at how much sugar is in each serving to know for sure.

* “Free range”
The “free range” food label can be found on meat, dairy and eggs at your local grocery store, but this progressive way of farming is not always as it seems. What consumers may not know and won’t see on their “free range” foods is that the USDA regulations only apply to poultry. Therefore, “free range” beef, pork and other non-poultry animals were fed grass and allowed to live outdoors, but their products are not regulated by the USDA. Another misconception consumers have about “free range” is that these products are also organic. Unless it’s labeled free range AND organic, free range animals may be fed nonorganic fed that could contain animal byproducts and hormones.

* “Fresh”
The “fresh” food label can be very misleading to consumers, by making them think their chicken was killed the day before, or their “freshly squeezed” orange juice was prepared that day. The label “fresh” simply means that it was not frozen or is uncooked, but many of these products are allowed to be chilled, kept on ice or in modified atmospheres to keep them from spoiling.

Foodfacts.com does not endorse specific views about nutrition or exercise, but presents interesting news and information worth reading about. As always, consult a physician or nutrition professional before making any major changes to your diet. Be sure to SCORE your foods so that you’re empowered to make good food choices. The Food Facts Health Score is FREE to use with your free membership at Foodfacts.com.

The Potato Project

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Today’s blog at Foodfacts.com features a video that has stressed the importance of eating organic. Without the harmful pesticides, chemicals, hormones, and toxins, you are reducing the risk of certain cancers and improving your overall health. Various doctors, scientists, researchers, and even some government officials, have been promoting the health benefits of eating organic items for many years now. However, most consumers continue to purchase what they are more familiar with, processed and chemically-treated foods. This may not be due solely to stubborn ways, but rather higher costs, lack of information, and even lack of access to these resources. Though we don’t believe anyone should be punished for not choosing organic, we do believe consumers should become more familiar and educated on healthier options before they make their decisions.

If you have read all the information; listened to all the scientists; and even read all the research, and still nothing… watch what Elise has to say.

Happy Birthday Starbucks!

Since Starbucks is on our good side right now, thanks to their healthy perfect Oatmeal, we thought we would give them a birthday shout out.
Birthday Pop

So “Happy 40th Birthday Starbucks! Love, Food Facts P.S. We love your Perfect Oatmeal! ”

What’s in it for you?? Well, this Thursday, Friday and Saturday between 2pm-5pm Starbucks will be giving you a free little dessert when you buy a drink! These little desserts, they are calling Starbucks Petites include cake pops, sweet squares and whoopie pies! Why are we giving these yummy but unhealthy treats the ok? Well, each treat is under 200 calories and is little! So just remember one is enough! Rocky Road Pop

If you are on a diet, small little desserts are a great way not to starve yourself of your favorite foods but keep portion size in check. Give yourself a little treat so you won’t over do it on something else!

Which flavor will you all get? We have our eye on the Red Velvet Whoopie Pie!
Red Velvet Whoopie Pie

Do you eat in your sleep?

woman-eating-asleep-200

For Leslie, it all started around menopause: the fatigue, the weight gain and the eating in the middle of the night. Sometimes she would have absolutely no memory of getting up to eat, but would find a mess in the kitchen. Other times, she would feel half-awake but out of control and compelled to get out of bed and find food.

I had a strong suspicion that Leslie had a parasomnia that we call sleep-related eating disorder. The key features are: 1. Nocturnal eating while asleep or half-asleep and therefore there is no or little recall of the events but there is evidence of eating or there are witnesses. 2. Bizarre and sometimes dangerous things are consumed. 3. Elaborate food preparation often takes place but in a careless, sloppy manner 4. There are often underlying eating disorders and/or a primary sleep disorder. As she continued her story, I became more convinced that indeed Leslie had this disorder.

At first, the episodes occurred perhaps once a week, then it was more frequent and now it was nearly every night. At first, the things that she was eating were pretty normal but rarely very healthy. Carbs, fat and the occasional protein.

She was alarmed by the time that she made a baked potato in the middle of the night. “Do you know how long it takes to bake a potato! It scares me that the episodes last that long and also the reason I know that I baked it in the oven, rather than microwaving it, is because the oven was still on in the morning.”

Then the things that she was eating got a bit bizarre. For example, one time, her husband found her trying to eat a frozen veggie burger. But what brought her to the sleep center was the episode where she found an open, half-eaten can of cat food and she was not sure if she had really fed it to her cat.

As of yet, there is not a lot of research on this disorder. Prevalence rates are estimated to be approximately 4% of young adults which is not an insignificant number. The prevalence rates are even higher among people with eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa.

Typically, people are in their 20s or 30s when they present with this complaint, but the fact that Leslie was in her early 50s and just going through menopause was a clue that she might have an underlying sleep disorder such as obstructive sleep apnea, which often appears or becomes worse when women go through menopause because the loss of estrogen means the muscles in the throat are not as toned as they once were.

Accordingly, the diagnostic workup should include a thorough evaluation for another underlying eating or sleep disorder. An overnight sleep study is usually performed and the person is asked to keep a sleep diary for two to four weeks to document what he or she recalls and what evidence there is of their nocturnal eating.

This disorder should be distinguished from night-eating syndrome, which involves excessive eating between the evening meal and bedtime. This disorder is characterized by complete nocturnal awakenings and fully conscious eating in the middle of the night. No bizarre foods are consumed and the eating behavior/food preparation is not sloppier than usual. In this disorder, it is less likely that the patients have an underlying sleep disorder and more likely that they have longstanding issues with food and weight gain.

That brings us to some of the health consequences of sleep-related eating disorder and night-eating syndrome. People can gain a lot of weight and sometimes over a short period of time. They can develop type 2 diabetes and high cholesterol and it can be difficult to manage these disorders with the usual medications if people are consuming excessive, empty calories in the middle of the night. In sleep-related eating disorder, people can ingest toxic substances. They can also leave the stove on, thereby endangering themselves and their loved ones. Patients can have problems in their relationships because they are waking up their bed partners. Some patients even bring food back to bed, so even if it wouldn’t bother you if your spouse got up every night, few of us would want to wake up to find our spouse in the bed pulling apart a greasy chicken and throwing the carcass under the covers. Finally, patients are very psychologically disturbed by how out of control they feel.

There is not much research on what treatments might help these patients. Of course we treat the underlying eating or sleep disorder. If there is none or that approach does not resolves the symptoms, then we try medications such as topiramate or zonisamide, which are anti-convulsants. Other medications that have been given with some success are dopaminergic agents, benzodiazepines such as Clonazepam and opiates. With Leslie we lucked out; she did indeed have severe sleep apnea and when we treated it all her nocturnal eating stopped.

Lisa Shives, M.D., is the founder of Northshore Sleep Medicine in Evanston, Illinois. She blogs on Tuesdays on The Chart. Read more from her at Dr. Lisa Shives’ Sleep Better Blog.

http://thechart.blogs.cnn.com/2011/03/08/get-some-sleep-do-you-eat-in-your-sleep/