Facts are often intentionally misrepresented to create a false idea that we’re getting something healthy or doing something beneficial, when in fact we’re not.
Here are some common misconceptions created by food industry marketing and consumer confusion:
“Whole Grain” Food Labels
Whole grains have more fiber, protein, vitamins, and certain minerals than processed white flour has — but food companies sometimes use the phrase “whole grain” more often than they actually use whole grains. (Sara Lee acknowledged last year that its Soft & Smooth Made with Whole Grain White bread was skimpy on the good stuff.) Pay attention to the ingredient list, not the packaging. You don’t want sucrose, high-fructose corn syrup, or enriched wheat flour listed ahead of the whole grains.
100-Calorie Snack Packs
According to a recent study in the Journal of Consumer Research, the small portions lull people into thinking just a little bit of unhealthy food is an innocent pleasure, which encourages them to eat more. “Just because it’s packaged to look like diet food doesn’t mean it is,” says nutritionist Lisa R. Young, author of The Portion Teller Plan.
Salads drive up sales of fattier fast-food fare, says a Duke University study. Additionally, the salads aren’t always healthy, either: McDonald’s Premium Southwest Salad with Grilled Chicken and Newman’s Own Creamy Southwest Dressing has more calories than a Quarter Pounder.