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Beware of Fake Nutrition Claims on Food Labels

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Fake Nutrition Claims on Food Labels

I’m not a salesman, but if I wanted you to buy my food product, I would say whatever I wanted to GET you to buy it. Especially if there was just a news story covering some exciting new breakthrough. Everywhere you go, you see low-fat, low-sugar, no trans-fats, no cholesterol, all natural, etc. But many of these foods never had these things in them to begin with, and many take one item out to put another one in.

All Natural

What does that even mean? A lot of things are ‘naturally’ occurring but would you eat them? How ’bout some Arsenic pie? Yum! But hey! It’s all natural. Natural just means it was not chemically made, but it still can be a product that’s high in calories, or low in nutrients. Ignore this claim.


Many of us are watching our cholesterol, but did you know that many of the products with this claim, never HAD cholesterol? Cholesterol only comes from animals, (meats, eggs, seafood, dairy) so something like potato chips (that come from the ground) never had cholesterol!  What they fail to mention is that the product is extremely high in fat and salt. But hey, don’t worry: there’s no cholesterol in here! If it comes from an animal, it’ll have it. If it came from the ground, it never did.


Low-Fat – Low-Sugar 

Unfortunately, for many processed, packaged foods, they need to make the end product taste good. So, they either need to add sugar, or fat. (or salt). Guess what? When they take one out, they add the other. They won’t tell you that, but trust me, when the fat comes out they add a ton of sugar and vice versa. (I’m still talking about processed foods. When they remove fat from things like milk and yogurt, they just remove the fat). Or worse, they add weird additives, chemicals and food-alternatives to make up for the missing consistency. Stick with REAL food and just eat less of it.


Again, depending on the food, this may mean nothing. Sometimes it’s just good ol’ less salt being added. Sometimes the item never had salt. Sometimes, there is “less” salt, but it can still be very high in fat and calories, like chips. No-Salt-Added or Unsalted → just mean no salt is added during processing, but not necessarily sodium-free. Reduced Sodium → just means at least 25% less sodium than in the original product, but the original product could be extremely high in salt! Here’s a better guide. Shoot for less than 2,400mg of sodium a day.

  • Salt/Sodium-Free → Less than 5 mg of sodium per serving
  • Very Low Sodium → 35 mg of sodium or less per serving
  • Low Sodium → 140 mg of sodium or less per serving


Organic just let’s you know how the food was grown and processed. It can still be high in sodium, fat and sugar. Read the Label.


Multiple Grains

Another claim that means nothing. Multiple what-kind-of-grains? 7 grain bread may sound healthy, but it can be several lame grains that are refined and mixed together. Also if it says “made with whole grains” it might have 1% whole grains and the other 99% can be refined. It must say 100% whole grain, or 100% whole wheat. Look for the percentage and the word “whole”.

Good Source of Something

This is a big joke. Ice cream and cheese  are a good source of calcium, but should you eat tons of it? No. Juices may be a good source of Vitamin C, but it can still be extremely high in sugar AND they might have added the Vitamin C to begin with! They could add calcium to things like waffles, and if you are lactose intolerant, that may be a way for you to get your calcium, but the food itself can be crap. Look at your source. Is that really where you want to get your nutrients from?

Trans Fats

Although companies are removing the Trans fats, and many food labels may claim there are no Trans Fats in the product, there may still be some. A product can have up to .5gm of Trans Fats per serving and be allowed to claim that it contains ZERO! If the words “partially-hydrogenated” is on the food label, you can be sure it contains some Trans-Fats. Also, if they’re taking out the Trans-Fats, they’re just adding in another Saturated fat in it’s place.

If Something Claims Something, it has to have this: (but the product can still be bad for you, as above)

  • Low fat – 3 grams fat or less per serving
  • Fat-free – Less than 1/2 gram fat per serving
  • Low sodium – Less than 140 milligrams sodium per serving
  • Low calorie – Less than 40 calories per serving
  • Calorie free – Less than 5 calories per serving
  • Low cholesterol – Less than 20 milligrams cholesterol and 2 grams saturated fat

Other Tidbits

  1. Read serving sizes. Even those little snack bags MAY contain more than 1 serving!
  2. Good Source of fiber: it better have at least 3gms per serving (5gms is better)
  3. The longer the list of ingredients, the more processed it is. Find ones that have 5 ingredients or less. Or don’t buy it.
  4. Reduced fat products will not help you lose weight, especially if fat is replaced with sugar, and the product still contains a lot of calories.

Still Confused? (I don’t blame you)

For a more detailed explanation of How to Read a Food Label, click HERE and HERE

P.S. It’s a lot easier eating something without a food label on it!  So what do you think?

I love hearing from you!

CHRISTINE ARDIGO – Author of Cheating to Survive & Every Five Years

The greatest compliment you can give me is when you share this with others.
I sincerely appreciate it:

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Taking Control of Your Portion Sizes

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portion control

By Christine Ardigo MSRD

Take Control
Is this your idea of portion control: a sleeve of Oreos, a pint of ice cream, eating chips out of the bag until you’re full, placing enough food on your plate so the flowery print underneath no longer shows?

Does the idea of measuring your food in cups, counting grapes and weighing your meat when you made it through an exhausting day seem ridiculous? I don’t blame you. Especially when you’re dining out. What are you going to do, ask the waiter serving your glass of champagne at the wedding to bring a scale for your chicken masala? Ask the attendant at the buffet table for a measuring cup? Would you even know what a correct portion was if these accommodating individuals brought you these items?

And what about food labels? Does the gibberish on the side of that Lean Cuisine leave you wanting to run for more Oreos to calm your nerves? Does the order in which they list the ingredients indicate anything? What does “% daily value” even mean?

As registered dietitians, we tell people to watch their portions and read labels but how many of you know how? And what do you do when dining out?                                          . Read More

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