Food packages are filled with information and phrases to make a product appear healthy, jump off the shelf and into your cart from multigrain to no trans fat to all natural. Some words may indicate a truly healthy product while others may not.
Instead of Multigrain... Opt for Whole Grain
Multigrain Simply means that there is more than one type of grain in the product, it DOES NOT mean whole grain. To get the fiber, vitamins and minerals from whole grains you need to choose products with the words whole grain and double check the ingredient list, whole grains should be the first ingredient on this list!
Instead of Natural... Opt for Reading the Label
If you buy natural foods thinking you are helping your health or the environment, think again. There is no criteria for the use of the word natural on food products. Instead of allowing the word natural to grab your attention, check the nutrition facts of the product and the ingredient list!
Instead of Sugar-Free... Opt for Lower Sugar
The words sugar-free on a food package indicate that there is less than 0.5 grams of sugar per serving, although to maintain sweetness, many products move in sugar substitutes like sugar alcohols, sucralose or aspartame. Plus many may have even more calories and fat than their non-sugar free counterparts. For example: 3 sugar-free chocolates has 5 more grams of fat compared to the 'regular' chocolates. The best bet - opt for foods that are naturally lower in sugar and double check the ingredient list to make sure a sugar substitute has not been added instead!
For more on decoding food packages check out Molly's article 5 Ways to Out Smart Food Labels on MensFitness.com and watch this quick interview on Misleading Claims with Molly from Bridge Street (News Channel 9):