"All Natural" - What Does That Mean?
When you see "All Natural" on products, what do you think?
Some have told me when they see "All Natural", it means that its real? Has nothing added to it?contains whole ingredients? What else.... That it's good for you?
I realized the other day that the bag of potatoes I bought from the grocery store had "All Natural" on the packaging. I thought to myself, what else would potatoes be? It's a potato that comes from the ground. Sure, there are some pesticides on my potatoes since I opted out of purchasing the organic kind, but why the necessity to label potatoes "All Natural" when it's a whole food that comes straight from the earth?
Some research has been conducted on people's opinions and decisions on "All Natural" foods*
Similar to the "All Natural" labeling, one study found that participants perceived foods labeled with "fruit sugar" as opposed to just "sugar" as healthier, even though both products contained the same amount of sugar, ingredients, and thus, calories. The researchers concluded that the reason people perceive "fruit sugar" as healthier is because it has fruit in the label and fruit is deemed a healthy food. This translates into a marketing scheme, just like "All Natural". Food manufacturers need to find ways to sell their products and even though there are some food labeling laws by the FDA, they are essentially free to use the entire label to market and sell their product.
From a dietitian's perspective, this is a bit frightening because of the many misconceptions out there surrounding the classification of whether or not a food is "healthy".
As I have stated in previous posts, whole, unprocessed foods are going to be the "healthiest" foods you can eat. By healthy, I mean chock full of nutrients (beneficial calories, vitamins, minerals).**
I like to use the affirmation:
"Every time you eat is an opportunity to nourish your body"
I encourage you to think about that the next time you pick up a Hostess Donut or anything that has little-to-no nutrients. Another question you can ask yourself: will the "food" I'm about to eat make me healthier and allow my body to function optimally? Or is it just empty calories that my body will likely store as fat?
The moral of the story is to use discernment when reading labels. Does the food come in a package? Does it have whole ingredients? How many? Any artificial ingredients? What is the nutritional value (micronutrients)?
If you would like to further discuss healthy foods vs food "stuff", or any other concerns you have about food and/or your diet, feel free to contact us! We provide free telephone nutrition assessments and have many options that cover most people's needs (with regards to nutrition, of course).
**The OPTAVIA 5&1 program contains packaged, medical grade food and is an exception to the rule. The Fuelings in this program provide 100% of your needs for 24 vitamins/minerals and has a balanced macronutrient composition. They are designed solely for weight loss purposes and as a research-based, results driven approach to create the healthy habits necessary to achieve and sustain a healthy body weight.
Looking forward to hearing from you to discuss your goals and how we can help you reach them!