10 Tips To Avoid Being Healthwashed
- Any peculiarly coloured packaged food- stay away, no matter what the claim. There is no such thing as “Natural Colouring”.
- Natural and Organic don’t mean “Healthy” (and now rarely mean natural or 100% organic).
- Show me a “Natural Flavours” tree. I am thinking there is nothing natural about “Natural Flavours”. Maybe the “Natural Flavours Tree” is in some orchard beside the “Natural Colouring Tree”.
- The bigger the label, the flashier the health claim, the greater the chance of it being a healthwashed product. Do yourself a favour and pretend you can’t read, unless it’s the ingredient list (see point 8).
- Just because it’s in a “natural foods” aisle or health food store does not mean it’s healthy. This also goes for specialty foods like gluten-free, kosher, dairy-free etc. (See point 9 and 10 below).
- Ensure that most of your diet doesn’t come in any packaging to have a claim on it. Fruits, veg, beans, lentils, whole grains, nuts, seeds, organic and naturally raised animal foods.
- Ignore the nutrition label. It means absolutely nothing. NOTHING. For example, in most cases, if good oils are present, you are better off eating a food with more calories from fat than from carbs/sugar. The serving sizes are usually about enough to feed a small kitten, you’ll probably eat triple. Nutrition labels are useless. Trust me on this.
- If a food carries a claim recognized by a government organization- stay away. Pretty sure that government dictated health regulations haven’t done too well for us. (This also applies to the % that appear on the nutrition labels, so please apply rule #7 here).
- The only part of a label worth reading is the ingredient list. Read it. If it is too small to read, there are too many items on that ingredient list, if you would be unable to buy each of the ingredients on the list and make the item yourself in your kitchen if you wanted to, then put the box/can/carton/bag down and step away.
- If something says “whole”, or “natural” or “organic” the ingredient label should tell the true story. That being said, watch out for sneaky tricks like * on certain ingredients with small print below, ingredient items that likely have their own list of ingredients.
Bonus Extra Important Rule: Beware of ingredient splitting. This is where a company will split up certain ingredients so they don’t appear first in the ingredient list. Ingredients on a label are listed by weight. Often packaged food companies will split sugar into glucose, fructose, cane sugar, beet sugar, corn syrup, barley malt, molasses etc. They use any number of names and use a few different ones so that sugar won’t appear first on the ingredient list.
See related articles here: Healthwashing by Coca-Cola