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Wednesday, Jun 14, 2017
Food Label Learning 101
Posted by Dr. Rachel Bright of Dr. Rachel Bright

Before we begin, let's imagine this particular scenario together:

It's Sunday afternoon and you are all prepared for your weekly trip to the grocery store. You have your trusty side kick with you – the detailed and well-thought out food list. This list contains those delicious, healthy recipes, which are all planned for every day of this week to keep you on track! Excitedly, you drive to the store, thinking that it will be an easy trip, as you have carefully organized knowing what you will buy and the quantity. By now, you have arrived, grabbing a cart with your list in hand, you read the first item on the list: two dozen eggs. Purchasing eggs seems relatively harmless, right? As you begin approaching the egg section, you are immediately bombarded with at least six different kinds of brands with completely different labels. Each of those dozen eggs state the following terms like, cage-free with omega-3's, All-natural, Farm fresh, No-hormones added, no antibiotics, organic, pasture-raised, No animal fat in feed – extra large eggs…Whoa! Please, don't cower and grab just any dozen!

In this blog post, we are going to give you an easy guide that helps you interpret those millions of labels, which ones to trust with a badge of honor and which ones to stick your nose up at.

But first, let's briefly talk about why we have food labels and their purpose: Food labels were developed to give you- the consumer- knowledge of how your food was manufactured. A label nowadays on food can be helpful and detrimental, because the source of information doesn't have to be entirely truthful. Remember, there are loop-holes in many laws and some food manufactures are not interested in playing a role with maintaining your optimal health – they're sometimes more interested in how much money goes into their pockets. In the end, you make the final decision of whether you want to purchase it or not.

Not to worry, though! There are now trustworthy non-profit, state and private agencies, which you can rely on for accurate food labeling, knowing that you are actually buying the healthiest and cleanest foods for you and your family.

Below are helpful tips for you to accurately interpret food labels:

TRULY organic is known by the following info:

IF Non-GMO, this means it is free of…

Sneaky Preservative Names that sound harmless

Free of GMO's – with verified Non-GMO Project verification label

Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO's)

Natural Flavors – this could be close to 100 preservatives under this single name!

Free of synthetic pesticides



Free of Glyphosate (Roundup)


Caramel Color

Has the 100% Certified Organic label to accurately verify it is free from GMO's


Autolyzed Yeast Extract, yeast extract – sneaky names for MSG – monosodium glutamate

Not processed with Hexane



Fertilized without sewage sludge



No drug residues


Citric Acid

As for a sneak preview (refer to our nutrition tutorial program for more detailed info!), we've taken a few of the top deceptively healthy packaged food labels and given you short reasons as to why they are far from healthy. Alternatively, we listed our favorite and TRULY healthy counterparts. This way, your taste buds and tummies can still be in delight!

[To note: The examples of food listed in the chart under "Truly Healthy Food Alternative" are all free of the following: refined sugars (i.e. brown rice syrup, cane syrup, glucose syrup, and dried cane powder), artificial colors, flavors and natural flavors, or disguised fillers, GMO's and artificial sweeteners.

Deceptive Healthy Food

Why not?

Truly Healthy Food Alternative

Betty Crocker Gluten-free mixes

Each mix has sugar listed as one of the top ingredients

Simple Mills Brand – sweetened with coconut sugar

Kind Bars

Sugar is listed at least 4 times on each label (which all included refined sugars)

Real Food Bar brand (granola bar) – sweetened only with honey and dates

Quest Bars

Some bars contain artificial sugars and natural flavors not created from an organic source

Primal Protein Bars or Bullet Proof Bars – no natural and artificial flavors or sugars!

Bear Naked Granola

Contains natural flavors, more than one type of sugar (i.e. brown rice syrup, cane syrup)

Purely Elizabeth Granola brand – zero natural flavors and sweetened with mineral-rich coconut sugar

Green&Black's Organic chocolate

Organic raw cane sugar – fancy term for sugar!

Lulu's chocolate – sweetened with coconut sugar

ThinkThin Bars

Don't be fooled by the name Think "Thin!" This bar is a full house of artificial sweeteners, GMO soy, natural flavors, poor quality oils and dirty whey protein powder

The Paleo Protein Bar

So Delicious Vanilla Non-dairy milk (other non-dairy milk brands too)

Typically contains carrageenan; sugar and not organic

Your best bet: New Barn Almond Milk, unsweetened; OR make your own almond milk!

Remember, in today's world where food marketing is in every corner and you want to achieve and maintain your best health; don't be fooled by the colorful packaging! Just because the packaging is attractive and appears healthy, doesn't mean that it will help create an attractive body on the inside for you!

Cheers to your efforts of creating smarter food choices every day!

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