We are so EXCITED! Why? because so many of you are sharing incredible success stories with us and that is so inspiring. When we started Organic Housewives our desire was to help families make positive changes in their homes and lives by educating and providing products that would help you reach your health goals. We are getting there! The number of you that have adopted healthier change whether through adding a healthy recipe, changing to vegan protein in your smoothie or by doing the OH Detox you have made progress and that is exciting and humbling to us at the same time. Congratulations on your progress that is AWESOME.
We have gotten a number of inquiries on how to read labels and what is really healthy vs. not. Of course this is a huge topic and one blog post won’t answer it all. However we are going to touch on one of the biggest misconceptions out there and that is on sugar-free products. Most people especially those that are trying to lose weight immediately go to “low-fat” and “sugar-free” products. They are supposed to be better for you right? In most cases they aren’t and here’s why.
The food companies realize that YOU the consumer are getting smarter. They still want to put out foods that are tasty and appear healthy but they have to look at the bottom line too, which typically means getting the most flavor using the cheapest ingredients so most companies put out foods that appear healthy with names such as “natural”, “sugar-free” and “low-fat” but unless you read the label to see what is actually in the product it may contain additives, artificial sweeteners or sugar.
Here’s what to look for:
When you see “all natural” or “natural” the legal definition of it by the FDA is:
“From a food science perspective, it is difficult to define a food product that is ‘natural’ because the food has probably been processed and is no longer the product of the earth. That said, FDA has not developed a definition for use of the term natural or its derivatives. However, the agency has not objected to the use of the term if the food does not contain added color, artificial flavors, or synthetic substances.”
So a manufacturer can use the term “Natural” on their packaging provided it doesn’t contain added color, artificial flavors or synthetic substances. So what’s in the product? It could be a lot of things but just so you know high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) can be a “natural” ingredient. Are you kidding me? You read that right.
According to Audrae Erickson President of the Corn Refiner’s Association:
“HFCS like table sugar and honey, is natural…”
The FDA concurred with this and yes, you the unknowing customer who sees a snack for your child on the shelf that says “natural” can in fact contain HFCS which we all know is one of the worst foods (if you can even call it that) on the market. For a complete explanation on why HFCS is so bad for you Dr. Hyman’s article does a great job of breaking down why HFCS will ultimately make you sick.
With regard to the “sugar-free” labeling that we see the following equation is usually correct.
Sugar-free = artificial sweetener
Almost everyone is trying to cut down on sugar and most of us go about it by looking for products that are “sugar-free”. This usually equates to manufacturer’s using the following ingredients to make a food sugar-free and sweet at the same time:
Aspartame – aka (NutraSweet and Equal)
Contains: Phenylalanine, aspartic acid and methanol.
Reported side effects: Headaches, fibromyalgia, anxiety, memory loss, arthritis, abdominal pain, nausea, depression, heart palpitations, irritable bowel syndrome, seizures, neurological disorders, vision problems, brain tumors and weight gain.
Aceslulfame-K – aka (Sunett and Sweet One)
Contains: Acesulfame-K is a potassium salt containing methylene chloride, a known carcinogen.
Reported side effects: Long term exposure to methylene chloride can cause nausea, headaches, mood problems, impairment of the liver and kidneys, problems with eyesight and possibly cancer. Acesulfame-K may contribute to hypoglemica.
Acesulfame-K is commonly found in diet drinks but also appears in “low-carb” products such as yogurts and ice-cream.
Ingredients in Diet Coke:
- Carbonated water, colour (caramel E150d), sweeteners (aspartame, acesulfame-K), flavourings (including caffeine), phosphoric acid, citric acid. Contains a source of phenylalanine.
Contains: A synthetic additive created by chlorinating sugar. Manufacturers say the chlorine in sucralose is no different from that in table salt. However the chemical structure of the chlorine in sucralose is almost the same as that in the now-banned pesticide DDT.
Reported side effects: Head and muscle aches, stomach cramps and diarrhea, bladder issues, skin irritation, dizziness and inflammation.
Sucralose is appearing more and more often as consumer’s are realizing that aspartame is really bad for their health. Industry giants are trying to promote sucralose as “naturally derived” but we all know what “natural” can really mean. Take a look at this supposedly healthy food. With a name like “Light and Fit” how could it possibly be bad for you? By the way if you look close you will also see the ingredient carmine. That might turn you off if the artificial sweeteners don’t!
As you can see labeling can be a tricky and time-consuming. We know this is a complicated topic and hope that we have made this one component of reading and understanding “sugar-free” labeling easier to understand. If you consume “sugar-free” foods, please consider turning the package around and checking for yourself if it is something you want in your body.
Keep up the great work and let us know how you are doing!
Your friends in health,
Donna and Daniela