7 Marketing Tactics That Trick You Into Thinking You’re Making a Healthy Food Choice
Before we get into it, let us be clear that we are human too, and we do believe in everything in moderation. However, sometimes people take health fads too far to the point where it becomes unhealthy. Here are 7 things that make us think we’re being health conscious but could negatively effect our overall well-being, long term.
- DIET DRINKS
We talk about calories a lot. To be honest, we even consume diet drinks every once in awhile because it’s lower in calories than it’s sugary counterpart. However, the definition of “low calorie” and “healthy” are definitely not interchangeable. In fact, they can be quite opposite. The research against diet drinks is compelling and here are just a few studies that show how detrimental they can be when over-consumed:
-A study found that people who drank diet soda daily were almost three times as likely to develop stroke and dementia when compared to those who did not. *1
-Research suggests that drinking sweetened beverages, especially diet drinks, is associated with an increased risk of depression in adults while drinking coffee was tied to a slightly lower risk. *2
-Children born to women who had gestational diabetes and drank at least one artificially sweetened beverage per day during pregnancy were more likely to be overweight or obese at age 7, compared to children born to women who had gestational diabetes and drank water instead of artificially sweetened beverages, according to a study. *3
-A study that examined the dietary habits of more than 22,000 US adults found that diet-beverage consumers may compensate for the absence of calories in their drinks by binging on extra food that is loaded with sugar, sodium, fat and cholesterol. *4
-Carbonation, an essential component of popular soft drinks, alters the brain’s perception of sweetness and makes it difficult for the brain to determine the difference between sugar and artificial sweeteners. *5
- ARTIFICIALLY SWEETENED FOODS
Another trick to the low calorie train is to add artificial sweeteners to replace conventional sugar in food products. You’ll often see this in protein bars and protein powders, and these days artificial sweeteners can now be found in food such as yogurt , sauces and dressings. They are usually advertised as zero carb or low carb. Artificially sweeteners are difficult for our to recognise so often times, people find these foods leaving them with gastrointestinal distress and bloating. You can definitely look for naturally derived sweeteners such as stevia and erythritol in the ingredient list which some will say are “healthier” but the research is still ongoing in that department. However, we do know one thing for sure about artificially sweetened food: Artificial sweeteners can stimulate appetite in the brain- one study showed a 30% increase in calorie intake after sucralose consumption. *6
- GLUTEN FREE PRODUCTS
Coeliac disease is an autoimmune condition that can cause a host of negative symptoms, including severe digestive issues and nutritional deficiencies. These people must avoid gluten at all costs. A simple blood test from your GP can detect whether you are coeliac or not. Some people also find that wheat irritates or bloats them—in that case, looking at including some gluten free products into your diet could be helpful. However for the general population, gluten free does not mean “healthier”. In fact, a lot of gluten free products can still contain heaps of sugar and fat to enhance the flavour, and they are also often substituted with lower fibre alternatives, which can cause digestive issues. *7
- HEALTH STAR RATINGS
Ok let’s just use our common sense for one second. We all know what Master’s Choc Milk is… your standard tradie breakfast. With 41 grams of sugar in one 600mL carton… it’s rated 4 out of 5 health stars!! WHAT?! The The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends no more than 6 teaspoons (25 grams) of added sugar per day for women and 9 teaspoons (38 grams) for men. Then the Australian Government goes and rates something with 41 grams of added sugar, WAY more than the recommended daily intake, a 4 out of 5 health star rating?! Needless to say, health star rating is total rubbish. Where are the health star ratings in the fresh fruit, veggies and lean meat section of the supermarket? Nowhere to be seen. Unreal!
- VEGAN PRODUCTS
Let us be clear that there are no particular diets that we condone or completely disregard—we believe that if your choices are balanced, you are in great health and you are happy and fit then YOU DO YOU! So Vegans, you keep doing your thing just make sure you’re supplementing with appropriate vitamins and minerals. For the average non-vegan folk, just because it says “Vegan”, it doesn’t mean it’s healthy. Processed vegan food tends to be calorie dense and high in fat and carbohydrate. If you’re eating donuts and hot dogs during the day and having a vegan dinner, don’t try to kid yourself that you’re being any healthier by having one animal-product-free meal.
A lot of Vegan products also contain soy. There is some scientific evidence of soy negatively impacting the oestrogen hormone in humans. A 2018 study found that infants who consumed soy-based formula as newborns had differences in some reproductive-system cells and tissues, compared to those who used cow-milk formula or were breastfed. The researchers say the differences, measured in the months after birth, were subtle and not a cause for alarm, but reflect a need to further investigate the long-term effects of exposure to oestrogen-like compounds found in soy-based formulas. *8
- LOW FAT FOODS
Think about low fat cheese vs. high fat cheese. Lean beef mince vs. fatty beef mince. Skim milk vs. full cream milk. Low fat yogurt vs. full fat yogurt. Now, can we all agree that the full fat version tastes better? When the fat gets stripped, it tends to taste awful. In that case, we need to find a substitute for the fat that’s going to enhance the flavour otherwise we will probably never eat it again! In comes SUGAR! Most low fat products are loaded with either heaps of sugar or tons of artificial sweeteners to make up for the lost fatty, creamy deliciousness.
In a 2017 study, researchers found that rats fed a diet high in sugar but low in fat — meant to imitate many popular diet foods — increased body fat mass when compared to rats fed a balanced rodent diet. The high-sugar diet induced a host of other problems, including liver damage and brain inflammation. *9
- “LITE” FOODS
We could probably tie in low fat and “lite” together but we thought we’d list them separately just so you don’t fall into this trap as well. First of all… lite isn’t even a word. Now this just our suspicion, but we feel like using the word lite negates any potential lawsuit that might happen with using the word “light” and the product not being light at all. Most likely these products be low in fat, and high in sugar. We doubt that you need any more confirmation on why not to fall for this trap but the same scientist in point number 6 concluded in a previous study that these unbalanced diets also induced chronic inflammation in the intestinal tract and brain. Brain inflammation alters gut-brain communication by damaging the vagus nerve, which controls sensory signals, including the brain’s ability to determine when one is full. *10
To conclude… does this mean you have to follow all these points all the time? No, of course not! We believe in moderation. One diet soda and one Master’s choc in one week won’t kill you, however, have a few of those every single day and you may be putting your health in jeopardy.
- Matthew P. Pase et al. Sugar- and Artificially Sweetened Beverages and the Risks of Incident Stroke and Dementia: A Prospective Cohort Study. Stroke, April 2017
- American Academy of Neurology (AAN). “Hold the diet soda? Sweetened drinks linked to depression, coffee tied to lower risk.” January 2013.
- NIH/Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. “Drinking diet beverages during pregnancy linked to child obesity, study suggests.” June 2017.
- Ruopeng An, PhD. Beverage Consumption in Relation to Discretionary Food Intake and Diet Quality among U.S. Adults, 2003-2012. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, September 2015
- American Gastroenterological Association. “Carbonation alters the mind’s perception of sweetness.” September 2013.
- University of Sydney. “Why artificial sweeteners can increase appetite.” July 2016.
- Kansas State University. “Going gluten-free: Is the diet a good fit for everyone?.” June 2012.
- Margaret A Adgent et al. A longitudinal study of estrogen-responsive tissues and hormone concentrations in infants fed soy formula. The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, 2018
- University of Georgia. “‘Diet’ products can make you fat” April 2017
- Krzysztof Czaja et al. Diet-driven microbiota dysbiosis is associated with vagal remodeling and obesity. Physiology & Behavior, 2017;