Health E Guide Nutrition, Cambridge Ontario

Ruth Thompson, Registered Nutritionist: RHN, RNCP, ROHP, MSW

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Consumer Power in Food Choices

 Posted by: Ruth Thompson RHN, RNCP, ROHP, MSW at 15:31, November 19 2012

If you don’t believe you have any power, think again.  Consumers have tremendous power over the products on the shelves; this is particularly true for food products.  You only have to read the marketing messages on food products to realize this.

 Consider these popular marketing messages on food: “Low Fat”  “No sugar added”  “Contains Omega 3’s”  “Whole grains”  “No artificial colours, flavours or preservatives.”

 These messages would not be there if it weren’t for consumer demand.   Years ago manufacturer claims were mostly about great taste.  It is a different story now.  Consumers are more savvy about nutrition, and food manufacturers are falling over themselves to appeal to a more health conscious consumer.

 There is a caution.  Marketing claims can be misleading.

- “Low fat” products can be high in salt and sugar, otherwise they would taste like sawdust.

- “No sugar added” can mean an artificial sweetener has been added.

- “Contains Omega 3’s” can mean a miniscule amount with marginal benefit.

- “Whole grains” may be present but refined white flour is usually the predominant ingredient.  

- “No artificial colours, flavours or preservatives” can be really misleading.  The artificial flavour, monosodium glutamate (aka MSG), is allowed to be listed as ‘natural flavour.’  I find many people are sensitive to MSG, and it certainly does not have any nutritional value. Some experts consider MSG to be a toxic food ingredient.

 To really exercise our consumer power and spur development of healthier foods, we must read the nutrition facts and ingredient lists.  Helping people to understand food labels is a key part of my nutrition services. Several free articles on this subject are my website such as: Label Reading 101, Aspartame, Taking A Stand Against Additives, plus articles about breakfast cereals and granola bars.

Reading and understanding labels is more important for people whose health is adversely affected by food ingredients.  I can determine if any foods or food additives are of concern to your health using the Bio Energetic Evaluation.  Information on this assessment tool is also on my website.


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