The thing I love about being a Naturopath is helping friends, family and clients answer the commonly asked health questions… and I get ‘them’, little text messages, day and night with different health questions or my latest favourite a ‘Is this healthy?’ question and a photo of the product front and of course the nutrient list on the back.
Before I answer the is ‘it healthy question?’ we need to take a step back, back to the grocery isle where you are holding a new product in your hand and you are thinking should I or shouldn’t I add this to my basket? This is when brilliant men and women in the marketing department do a little dance, a round of applause, cheer and release the confetti. You have found that one single product in a store selling thousands of other products and many which are very similar. This round goes to them.
Its time to look at this product a little deeper, the front tells me its healthy, that its good for your digestive health and that its sugar free but the back, oh the back… it has a nutrient list full of numbers, artificial sweeteners, additives and preservatives oh there is even a little artificial flavouring thrown in too! You tell me your ‘drink’ is strawberry and watermelon but there is no such words in the ingredient list… interesting. Yep, you have just won this round. The frustrating and never ending game of working your way through the minefield that is health food marketing is getting harder and harder but you can do it, the odds are forever in your favour.
Alyce’s tips to combating the health food marketing minefield:
1. You can (almost) never go wrong with fresh, organic, wholefood ingredients. If it is free from a packet you don’t need to worry about what is in the packet! A broccoli tree is just that, broccoli. A grape is a grape and a plumb a plumb. No chance of 621 (MSG) showing up here – well hopefully not.
2. Always, always, ALWAYS read your nutrient list. Here is where you will find the most information, not on the sparkly glittered front. By Australian law, ingredients are written from largest ingredient to the smallest – so if you are looking at buying almond mylk and the first ingredient is sugar, yeah its probably best to leave that one on the shelf.
3. Unless you are grabbing some washing up gloves or a new wooden spoon there isn’t much of a reason to shop in the centre of the supermarket. All the nutrient dense foods aka fruit, vegetables, herbs, eggs, meat, nuts and seeds are carefully and purposely placed on the outer rim of the supermarket.
4. Before adding that sparkly chocolate to your shopping basket stop and ask yourself, how will this benefit my health? And if its as simple as I will kill someone if I don’t have a bite of chocolate right now, sure go for it and enjoy it but if not, leave it there. It is your purchase choices that influence new product development, marketing and what you see on your shelves. If you cant leave the shop without that chocolate pick a good one. A delicious real dark cocoa chocolate and enjoy each bite.
Health and Happiness,
Keen to know a little bit more? check out these resources: