The Health Halo

Hey friends :) Good morning!

How did you like that “walk the hills” treadmill workout?! It’s a fun one, eh?

I really like our new city-this is going to be fun! (I am trying to convince myself amidst the craziness that life will calm down eventually…hah.)

For reals though, I am excited for the change, and SO glad to be back with my husband! We even went to the Jazz game last night. I do not love watching sports at all, but my husband is a Jazz fan, so I am happy to go with him (he goes to chick flicks with me, so it all evens out. hehe).

*****

Have you guys ever wandered down the grocery aisles and upon seeing a claim on a food product screaming “healthy! low fat! whole grains! every vitamin you’ll ever need!” and such, thought “wow, I really need that product right now. That will make me so healthy.”

Okay, so it might not go just like that scenario, but you get the picture.

{what?!!}

There are stipulations and guidelines, but some of them are so lax, food manufacturers can make crazy claims without our even realizing what we’re putting into our bodies!

The Health Halo

This, my friends, is called a health halo, and too often we have been successfully led into buying a food that might not be that great for us because of that lovely concept.

Sounds scary right? I mean, how does this even happen?

Well, because of the attention on obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and a myriad of other health complications and chronic diseases, food manufacturers decided to ‘help’ alleviate some of those mortality and morbidity rates by adding claims to their packaging.

{source}

Hmmmmm.

And, the food manufacturers have ties with the FDA and other government agencies.

Hmmmmm.

Most of the claims found on a box or package are true in some sense, and have been proven by the FDA and other associated organizations, but what is scary is that those ‘studies’ may have been uber small, too inconclusive, and/or been extrapolated to show causation (instead of correlation).

But, there are also great foods that do have legit health claims.

What I am saying is this : beware of the health halo.

{source}

{Pretty sure my husband likes the above picture–it’s his favorite cereal. Hah. So now, because cinnamon toast crunch has {mysterious} whole grains, it yells out to the ignorant shopper, “Eat me for good health!” Poor us.}

Every health food store has the health halo right above its head too. You walk in and think everything on the shelves is going to make you super healthy, happy, and free of disease. And, for some, maybe even skinny, and without calories.

Um, I am so sorry to be honest here, but, that is exactly what the food manufacturers want. They like the health halo. A lot.

And so the food giants put their claims on their boxes, send them to the stores, and they sit back and watch the ignorant humans grab box after box, and while stuffing the gluten-free, calorie-free, heart-attack free cookies down their throats, exclaim, “man I am so healthy!”

Um, yah.

{source}

So how to safely avoid the health halo?

  • If it comes in a box, package, or can, READ the ingredients label. If you can’t pronounce it, don’t buy it.
  • Shop the outer rims of the grocery store.
  • Stock up on anything and everything that does not need a label (vegetables, fruits, some dairy, &  bulk bin items such as oats, nuts, flours, seeds, legumes, and beans).
  • Think twice every time you buy a new-to-you food. Are those ‘special’ crackers really going to get you the right fiber, whole grains, and eventual reduction in heart disease? If no, happily put it back and go hunt for some real food.

I am not saying that I don’t ever buy food(s) that come in a box with a label screaming, “I am healthy, eat me!” But, I am much, much more aware of what I am putting into my body because I know what the tactics behind these packaging labels are.

Stock your shelves with the good stuff, people!

When we educate ourselves, we empower ourselves. And that empowerment can save you bucks, jeans, and your life.

Have a GREAT day!

P.s. I wrote this before heading to the grocery store to get us some grub. Can’t wait to put on my reading glasses! 😉 Hah.

Thankful Thursday

  1. I am grateful I get to have the husband I have. Don’t settle if you’re not in a very happy relationship!!
  2. I am thankful for my little brother’s example of faith, kindness, and patience. That dude is a good one.
  3. I am so grateful that my pretty plates didn’t break in the move!

What is the latest health halo YOU got caught in?? What product is ‘tricky’ to navigate in the store, do YOU think?? What are YOU thankful for today??

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Comments

  1. This is so true! Recently a snickers candy bar caught my eye because on the package it said, “Contains ___ grams of protein!” Really?!?! A candy bar trying to make it’s health claim? So whack!

  2. i have to agree with your husband… i love cinnamon toast crunch too. 😉 i can’t remember the last time i ate it, but i still love it!

    today i am thankful that it’s the start of my weekend tomorrow! woot!

  3. I totally got sucked into the “raw” food scene and all the raw food superfoods, etc. that it promotes. But, girl needs cinnamon toast crunch every once in awhile for some soul.

  4. Ahhhhh I used to LOVE cinnamon toast crunch!!! Although it made me shaky from all the sugar… haha. But I’m always pushing this on family and friends – read the ingredients and if you don’t understand them, don’t buy it! I am thankful for my patient family members putting up with having to hear me blab about nutrition…

  5. Hahaha, well, I haven’t been caught up in the “halo” any time recently, because I try to abide by one of Michael Pollon’s Food Rules: Never eat anything you see advertised on TV!

    I love this rule because it’s so sensible:

    If something’s advertised on TV it has to be made by a company that has the big bucks to pay for TV advertising.

    If a company has big bucks for TV advertising it has to be a BIG company

    If it’s a BIG company, it can only sustain itself through massive sales volume

    Anything sold on that level has to be mass-produced

    Mass-produced food is heavily processed

    Heavily processed food isn’t good for you.

    Don’t eat it.

  6. By going to the Jazz game – does that mean you moved to SLC? My sis lives there!

  7. Ah AWESOME topic! It drives me bonkers when something not healthy is fooling people. And a lot of the people I work with are duped! They bring something to the office and say, “Look! It’s healthy! Whole grain!” and I shake my head. Also, the gluten free label bothers me because people write it off as health food just because it says “Now Gluten Free!” on the label. I could go on, but I won’t. Loved this post!

  8. Do you have any good recommendations for wheat or a good grain bread, like barley or oatmeal? Here in the land of Mini-Mexico, all I got is Wonderbread, flour tortillas and no Whole Foods.

    You should be a Utah Jazz dancer! Bet that would make the games fun!

    • Thanks. Hehe.

      Oh man, I don’t really. I often make my own bread, and if I buy it, I just buy the bread that starts with WHOLE wheat flour (or whole grain flour), and has a verrrryyy short ingredient list.

  9. Next time you go to a Jazz game —- call me! I want to go!! 😉

  10. Loved this post. I was actually thinking about this today at school when a friend was eating a bag of cheesies for lunch. But don’t worry, they were organic, so it was ok. Haha, not. Seriously, I’m pretty sure half the people there thought she was the healthiest person ever. Apparently her family is on some organic kick, and for whatever reason she think that it is super healthy, even though she just brings packages of “organic cookies”, “organic chips” and “organic crackers”.

  11. I love your rules for avoiding health halos! They are such good life habits to have!

    As some people commented, another thing that can be health halos are food trends. I remember when “gluten-free” and all of a sudden, people thought gluten-free = healthy. Definitely not the case! You still can eat terrible things that are gluten-free. Same goes for buying food from places like Whole Foods — just because it’s from there, does not mean it’s healthy! Here is a small study on the word “organic” making people think something is lower in calories and better for you: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/04/110410130831.htm

    • Oh yes, the gluten free everything :) I feel bad for people who really DO have a condition that makes them be gluten free….esp since it is now so exploited to be a way to lose weight (which is, as we know, a bunch of BS ) :)

  12. Great post!!! This is so true!! We all need to educate ourselves a little more!!

  13. Gah, this kind of stuff is so upsetting! For people who are passionate about healthy living (like us), it’s easy to decipher an ingredient list– but for the average Joe who doesn’t know calories from protein, this can be so misleading! And the companies are only in it for more money :(

    Booo.

  14. Great post, babe :) I hope a ton of people read this! Seriously – great post! xo

    love u :)

  15. I just came across your blog and love it! This is a fabulous post and something that I am trying to get across to my readers as well.

  16. Well, most people are super gullible. I work in marketing/advertising, so I usually over-analyze everything in a grocery store. Whenever I see “ALL NATURAL!” or “FAT FREE!” or “GLUTEN FREE”, I usually keep walking…All of those headlines hide the fact that…”we added LOTS of sodium, LOTS of sugar” and removing gluten only helps people with Celiac disease. Sadly, only educated and informed consumers really know what they’re buying. I honestly don’t fall victim to the hype. It helps to be educated, but sadly, so many people just read the headlines. But hey. It’s the nature of advertising. We need to educate ourselves to know what direction to take. It’s a tricky business. The best bet is to avoid packaged foods and steer towards products that are untouched. Produce and grains are golden. Anything in a box has usually been modified extensively.

  17. this is a great post– I’ve seen so many people tripped up by the health halo (maybe we should think of it as the pseudo-health lasso instead!)– and it’s a shame that marketing takes advantage of some people’s want to be “healthy” with these colorful false advertisements. thanks for putting the truth out there!

  18. Perimeter shopping is def the key to grocery shopping. I usually ignore all packaged goods unless it’s something I’m super craving for .. like a bag of regular Lays chips (guilty pleasure) or a box of Oreos which I may sometimes indulge in.

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  1. […] 2. the health halo from enjoy your healthy life. annette discusses a great topic regarding foods that are disguised as healthy. […]

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