Fake Health labels that Aren’t as Healthy as They Seem (and what to eat instead)

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Health food can be confusing. With terms like all-natural and, fat-free consumers can find it challenging to make good choices. Learn about what foods to avoid, what foods are junk masquerading as healthy, and what to eat instead.

We've all been there; we want to eat healthier but don't know where to start. We wander aimless and hungry down the isles of the grocery store, hoping it will inspire us. But, when we get to the register and look down, we see a cart full of junk food that can wreak havoc on our bodies. We think we're doing a good job but end up with excessive amounts of sodium, sugar, and artificial ingredients. OH MY! Avoid these deceptive foods and learn how to spot sneaky junk foods the next time you go shopping.

Let's look at fake health food labels and healthier swaps we can make instead:

Fat-free cookies and snacks

Gone are the days of the nineties where we used to buy low and fat-free everything. If the package had the words "FAT-FREE" emblazoned on the outside, it made its way into our home and into our hearts. We would even be so bold as to be proud of ourselves for making the healthy switch. The truth is these cookies are loaded with extra sugars and filler to make them taste fatty. Because, let's face it, fat tastes good. Instead of eating loads of fake and processed foods, make your own cookies, using whole and healthful ingredients. Use real butter, or better yet, make ghee. Use farmers' market eggs and freshly milled flour of your choice. Add a little natural sweetener like honey or dates. Oh, that tastes way better.

Energy bars

Sometimes we need a quick and powerful bite when we're on the go, so we grab for an energy bar. The companies have marketed to us in such compelling ways that we think we need a hit of these protein bars to get us through the day. However, these bars are filled with processed foods like brown rice syrup and processed sugar. They also have isolated ingredients chemically extracted in a lab. Just say no thank you to "chemically extracted in a lab." Put the energy bar down, and make your own. You can whip up a tasty batch of granola bars or energy balls using wholesome ingredients you probably already have in your pantry.

Juice and smoothies

Juice and smoothies are good for us, right? Of course, they are; they're filled with wholesome juice! Well, not entirely. Juice and smoothies are still processed food, which means they are commercially made using concentrated juices. Some even add artificial colors and flavors. Plus, with the amount of sugar in bottled juices and smoothies you find at the grocery store, your blood sugar levels will spike off the charts, which will result in you dancing charismatically around the kitchen, immediately followed by a nap. Alternatively, eat a handful of grapes or an apple. The fiber in whole fruit will keep you full and help slowly release the fruit sugars keeping your blood-sugar level feeling fine.


All this talk of sugar levels spiking might have you reaching for the sugar-free options. Not so fast. Sugar-free is code for chemical sweeteners. Our bodies don't like those so much. Sugar-free sweetner has been linked to cancer, headaches, and an unhealthy gut. If you can't go without adding a packet of sweetener to your iced tea or coffee, switch to a raw sugar packet instead. It isn't chemically altered. Plus, it tastes better. It's a win, win.


We have been in a gluten-free haze these past few years, warding off all wheat flours as if they were pure evil. The problem with gluten-free is it's loaded with a whole mess of other starchy ingredients that are processed and hard on our digestive systems. Gluten-free options are sometimes more calories and contain more sugar and sodium. Instead of buying into the hype that all gluten is bad, eat whole, unprocessed grains. They are full of nutrients and protein to keep you fuller longer.


While it's always a great idea to eat fewer animal products, choosing a vegan option doesn't always mean healthier. You can still eat junk food and be a vegan. French fries and beer can be vegan, also chips and jelly beans. Vegan ice cream, for instance, has more additional calories than its dairy counterpart. Not to mention, the stabilizers, gums, and fillers that are added to make it creamy are tough to digest. Vegan meats are processed and contain things like soy isolates, soy proteins, and yeast extract, which are hard to digest, and aren't great for our bodies. Stick with non-fake foods that are naturally vegan and delicious, like avocados, dark chocolate, and natural nut butters.

Honorable mentions:





Made with real fruit or whole grains, etc.

You know the drill by now--companies want you to buy their food by any means possible. So they package them with words like the ones listed above, making you think they are healthier. The best way to eat healthily is to steer clear of processed and packaged foods. Eat whole foods that make you feel good. Be aware of marketing scams that try to trick you into thinking you're choosing a more nutritious product. It's a jungle out there, and now that you're more aware, you can congratulate yourself on how equipped you are next time you find yourself in the grocery store. Now, please pass the almonds.