Healthwashing: when food companies deceptively use healthy terminology or package resizing to trick consumers into thinking their product is healthy.

Nothing makes me angrier than going to the grocery store and seeing all the pseudo health food products on the shelves. It makes me furious to see this obsession with calories and low fat and how the food industry (and diet industry) has made everyone believe that those two things alone is what will turn you into a supermodel.

Everything wants to be healthy but the truth is most of it isn’t.

Take a look at the now phased out Health Watch program from the Heart and Stroke Foundation. Touted as a trusted resource for heart-healthy foods, in fact is nothing short of a money grab. The foods they advertised as healthy were anything but. Such items like Welches Grape juice which has more sugar than a glass of coke, Harvey’s veggie burger with 900mg of sodium! (not to mention, it’s Harveys…not exactly health food (their response to having all the fast food chains on their approved list was a weak: “Well, Canadians eat out at fast food restaurants so we want to give them a choice.” That’s the biggest crock I’ve heard. If you want people to be heart healthy you steer them AWAY from the fast food, not towards it), but since Harvey’s pays big bucks to have that logo, they go on the list!), Healthy Choice gourmet steamers with no less than 52 ingredients, many of them GMO’s, and so on. No wonder the program has been abolished (read more here).  

Another alarming trend is the “Sensible Solutions” logo you see on Kraft food products like crackers. They even say zero trans fat, except their ingredient list clearly states hydrogenated oil (which is trans fat, in case you weren’t aware).

Even Fruit Loops has a pretty green banner across the front (green being the colour of health) touting it as a source of Vitamin D…Puhleese. Are we really that dumb?

Nature Valley Bars, Quaker Oats, Special K…all of those foods are nothing but GMO’s, sugar, artificial colours, preservatives and flavours. 

Another thing that irritates me is when I see eggs from chickens fed vegetarian diet. Chickens eat bugs. Chickens aren’t vegetarians. This is yet another marketing ploy to trick people into thinking their product is healthy. What you want to look for is organic (which means the feed is organic, non GMO), free range/free run or cage free hens. A little more expensive, but man do they taste good.

Next time you go to the grocery store, do me a favour, don’t read the silly nutrient content label, with it’s listing of calories, fat, sodium etc; read the ingredient list instead.

If there are more than 5 ingredients put it back.

If you can’t read most of the ingredients, put it back.

In fact, if it comes in a package, unless you need it for a particular reason, put it back.

Google recipes for healthy granola bars that use real food and take no time to prepare.

Check the organic section for healthier snack options that don’t contain GMO’s, or artificial sugars/flavours/colours. 


What can you do:

  • Be a savvy consumer and don’t get fooled by all this marketing. Eat as many whole foods and cook at home as much as you possibly can, this will help eliminate the confusion around the food on the market today.
  • Shop the perimeter of the store – you’ll be less likely to pick up any junk in between.
  • Be aware of buzz words like gluten free. Just because something is, doesn’t mean it’s healthy.
  • Buy organic. Support organic farming – this isn’t a trend. We USED TO eat organic all the time! Then the big pesticide companies took over, and mass food production took over and the small farms that used to supply us with quality, organic foods went out of business. By buying organic you are telling the big food companies you demand quality products. Plus you’re supporting smaller farms that care about the animals and our planet. 



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