Food Marketing Traps to Look Out For – Video

Steph Wagner

April 8, 2015

Food Marketing Traps to Look Out For! Video on FoodCoachMe TV with Steph Wagner, Bariatric Dietitian

After weight loss surgery, you start paying closer attention to the foods you’re buying at the grocery store. But food marketing companies know how to put their products in front of you and try to fool you on making a choice based on the color of the package or the words on the front of the box. Watch this video and learn how to escape from healthy food “posers” and make sure you’re really getting what you’re wanting!


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Video Transcript:

Hi I’m Steph Wagner, Bariatric Dietitian on FoodCoach.Me. Do you ever pick up a package at the store and find yourself mad because it’s claiming to be healthy? After you embark on a weight loss journey and start paying attention to the carbs and sugar in the foods you eat, you’ve probably had an experience like this! You think “how rude! they’re lying! this is not even a protein bar at all! A candy bar is more like it!”

The fact of the matter is this – food packaging companies can put WHATEVER they’d like on the front of a package. If you pick up a bottle of Naked Juice you’ll see words like “protein smoothie” and “no added sugar” and one might think “this looks healthy!” They can put whatever they want on the front of that bottle.

Food marketers are smart, and tricky. Something I noticed as I walked the aisles of the store is the colors of the packages that are trying to look healthy. If a box or a bag has light brown or tan coloring, it’s tempting to think “this is a health product.” Marketing companies know that we associated a “natural look” to a “healthy and natural product.” What a bunch of tricksters.

To win at their game you must look at the pack of the package. Here’s what you want to look for (and don’t make it more complicated than it needs to be).

Tip #1: Start with the serving size. If it’s a protein bar you’ll know the label is telling you about one bar. If it’s a bag of edamame, you need to know how much edamame do you get for this label.

Tip #2: Glance down at the protein content. While it depends what it is, you’ll want to see at least 10 grams or more listed on the protein. But don’t stop just at the protein…

Tip#3: Look at the TOTAL carbohydrates. It’s very important that you look at the total here. Sugar content is going to go into the total carbohydrate number so it actually saves you to look at the total carbs. You’ll also notice there is no “net carbohydrate” amount listed on the label. That’s because net carbs are something else marketers made up and you will only see on the front of the package. You want to know “what’s the total amount of carbohydrates that would enter my body if I ate this.”

Once again it depends on what food you are looking at, but a quick rule of thumb here is to not let the total carbohydrates be higher than the total protein.

Tip #3: Take a glance at the fat content. A quick way to rule out if something is high in fat is to make sure the “percent daily value” is less than 20%. You’ll notice on the food label the percentages next to the grams. If something is over 20% in an item, I would consider that on the high end.

That’s it. You could take it further and look at the sodium and cholesterol but between you and me, I try to keep it very simple so I’m not at the store all day. Serving size, protein, total carbohydrates and percentage of fat. Take those tools with you to the store and you will beat those marketing schemes!

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