FITexecutive: Food Politics!

Be a Smart Consumer. Don’t be a victim to healthy marketing!

Hi all!  I am Gaby…it is so nice to have something to share with you all that I am really passionate about.  I am a recent business school graduate who took one too many marketing courses! One of my FITgal responsibilities is to take a look at the the fitness world through a business lens. I recently came across an interesting article about NuVal (, a nutritional scoring system that makes it easier to understand nutrition labels. While it’s still being tested in select supermarkets, I decided to put together some tips to help you decode the trick label!

Organic, vegan, gluten-free, low-fat, helps lower cholesterol, low-sodium, low-carb, high fiber…and the list goes on! We are inundated with “healthy” buzz words that lead us to think we are making healthy decisions. But fellow FITgals beware – companies have mastered the art of marketing to make us believe things are healthier than they are. It doesn’t mean that we need to be scared to shop but we do need to be smart about our daily choices. The packaging, design, color and feel of the product have all been well-thought out to entice a customer to buy, buy, buy.

Here are our FIT Tips when it comes to decoding the label:

  1. Always check the serving size and the servings per container. Our “bowl” of cereal can sometimes be 5 times the serving size! If you don’t believe me, pour your normal bowl of cereal and then use a measuring cup to see how much you are actually eating. The results can be surprising!
  2. Take a look at the fat content keeping in mind that saturated fats are the artery clogging ones. Poly and mono-unsaturated fats are essential to a healthy diet.
  3. Sodium can be one of the most unhealthy culprits found in packaged foods. Remember, the recommended daily allowance for sodium is 1,500 mg.
  4. Make sure the food is high in dietary fiber, low in added sugar, and high in protein.
  5. Lastly, be aware of the ingredients. Hydrogenated oils, preservatives, colorings, or words you can’t pronounce should be red flags to run the other way!

Don’t be fooled by the packages. Take a look at Honey Nut Cheerios. The front cover says whole grain, naturally flavored, and helps lower cholesterol. Many people would automatically think it’s a great option. However, when we look closely at the sugar content, we learn that one serving has as much sugar as two Chips Ahoy cookies. We wouldn’t eat cookies for breakfast, why would we choose this much sugar in our cereal?!Another big surprise is Pop Chips. Their tag line is “0 grams of regret”.  They are popped and not fried, 100% natural and have no preservatives. While they are low in fat compared their fried counterpart, Pop Chips sodium content is double the often ousted Utz Chips (260 mg. vs. 120 mg.)!


The best thing to do is to eat as naturally as possible avoiding processed and packaged foods that are high in saturated fat and refined flour and sugar. The cleaner your diet, the better you will feel and the easier it is to not fall victim to marketing!



Look out for these other seemingly healthy items: 

JIF Peanut Butter (Hydrogenated oils)

Canned soup (Sodium)

Skinny Cow items (Sugar)

Trail mix or granola bars (Sugar, saturated fat) 

Smoothies (Calories, sugar) 


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