Now that I have your attention, I want to be clear that this isn’t a personal attack against Ashy Bines, but I do want to explore the reasons behind needing to understand how to read food labels so we don’t fall for common marketing ploys. As a culture we have a tendency to obsess over health, often elevating celebrities to cult-like status, but is what they’re promoting actually healthy, or are we blinded by the air-brushed bodies that appear in the distorted reality of social media photos?
So, let’s start with some background. My best friend has recently been making a huge effort to get healthy for a number of reasons and I’m super proud of her efforts. Unfortunately, she’s fallen into the trap of buying into clever marketing rather than fully understanding how to read food labels objectively. She’s a bright, educated woman who is by no stretch a dummy, so it’s made me wonder who else has fallen prey to marketing tricks.
Let’s make this simple by using one of Ashy’s real products and analysing the nutrition panel for Chocolate Clean Treats (Real Treat Mix), as pictured above.
30.8g of sugar per 100g? That’s enormous! Sure, it’s not cane sugar, but your body still processes dates, vanilla powder and rice malt syrup the same way. To read more about how your body processes sugar, head to this link. In accordance with the World Health Organisation (WHO), most experts would recommend that we consume no more than 25g (6 teaspoons) of sugar per day. So just 1 of these balls (at 11.3g sugar per 29.5g serve) is HALF your daily intake!
Coming in at 42.7g per 100g serving, this “clean” treat is through the roof with its carb content. While the sugar accounts for part of the carbs, this is still an exorbitant amount of each and eating this product certainly isn’t going to do you any favours if you’re trying to lose or maintain weight or reduce inflammation.
While I’m all for rewarding yourself with a small treat every now and then, it’s important to recognise that these are still treats, or to quote Elmo, a sometimes food.
The use of words such as “clean”, “refined sugar free” and quotes like “lets keep the treats REAL clean and nutritious because healthy food is an act of self love and a healthy life style”, is incredibly misleading and is designed to trick people into forgetting that these are in fact a treat. These words are made even more effective when paired with a pretty face and photo-fit body that, let’s face it, most of us wish we had. But what we’re really buying into is a dream, not genuine health. It’s so easy to convince ourselves that it’s ok to have more of these because they’re “healthy.
Products like the one we’ve looked at above are healthier in the sense that they don’t contain added colours, preservatives and other numbers, but when the first ingredient on the list is sugar (for which there are many names ), maybe think twice before including this in your diet. Don’t forget to also look at the nutrient panel to help you figure out if something is healthy or not, as other words for sugar are often used to confuse us. Marketing is designed to hook us in, but it’s up to us to take the time to read the labels and analyse them objectively.
A good rule of thumb when it comes to nutrition is that fresh is best, with things becoming more complicated when we have ingredient lists to consider. As far as that list is concerned, a wise person once taught me that if you don't recognise an ingredient, the chances are that your body wont either, which is a guideline I have tried to live by. The next important step in analysing whether something is healthy or not is learning to understand your nutrient panel. Current science shows that following a LCHF way of eating can be beneficial for managing many health conditions, weight management and general wellbeing. In accordance with this, it is recommended that on average we consume less than 50g of carbs per day and increase our good quality fat intake to around 70g per day and our protein to 45-60g daily*.
With this in mind, the next time you reach for a treat I encourage you to take the time to look past the buzz words and assess things for yourself.
Peace, love and wellness,
*Please note that these recommendations are intended as general information only. This site is unable to provide information tailored to each individual and is not intended to replace the advice of your health care professional. It is important to consult with your own treating practitioner for individual advice regarding your own specific circumstances, especially when considering major changes to diet or lifestyle.