Know These Common Terms when Eating a Plant-Based Diet - dummies

Know These Common Terms when Eating a Plant-Based Diet

By Marni Wasserman

Unfortunately, most folks have been misled for years by corporations marketing their food products. Consumers mistakenly rely on food labels for an accurate picture of the nutritional value of the foods consumes. Phrases like “all natural,” “made from whole grain,” and “lowfat” seem like they describe healthy foods.

Well, that’s not always true; you have to look a little closer and be a detective when it comes to food labels. For starters, if you want to achieve a healthier lifestyle, be skeptical of the following misleading terms:

  • All natural: This is a widely used term in food labeling and marketing and has a variety of definitions, most of which are vague. The term is designed to make you assume that these foods have been minimally processed and don’t contain manufactured ingredients.

    However, the lack of standards in most jurisdictions means that the term assures nothing at all. In some countries, the term natural is defined and enforced; however, in North America, it has no regulated meaning. Sometimes folks think all natural is synonymous with organic. The term organic, however, actually has a stricter legal definition in most countries that is usually paired with an additional international standard.

  • Low calorie: When a product is diminished of its calories, chemical ingredients are often used to lighten up the product. These may be in the form of aspartame or other additives. Overall, consuming too few calories leaves you feeling grumpy, weak, tired, and ineffective during your workday and your workouts.

    The other thing to remember is that most food calories come from fat and carbohydrates, so it’s more about where those fats and carbohydrates are coming from, not necessarily how much of them you’re eating.

  • Lowfat or fat free: Remember, your body needs certain fats to function properly. When you remove fat from your diet, usually you consume more sugar to compensate for the nutrients your body is craving. This defeats your purpose because too much sugar consumption can increase your caloric intake and contribute to weight gain, whereas good, healthy fats won’t unless you eat them in excess.

  • Made from whole grain: This is a phrase you want to look out for when you buy bread products or anything with grains in it. Just because something is “whole grain” doesn’t mean it’s the real deal.

    Unfortunately, a lot of products get away with making this claim because the manufacturer uses whole grain somewhere (in small quantity) in the product, but the rest of the ingredient list is usually processed or refined flours. Unless the label says 100 percent whole grain, you have no idea how much (or how little) whole grain and fiber you’re truly getting.

  • Sugar free: Something that’s labeled sugar free probably contains artificial sweeteners instead. If you think that artificial sweeteners are better options than sugar, you’re setting yourself up for disaster. Chemical sweeteners like aspartame trick your body into thinking it’s getting sugar when it’s not and actually make you crave more (real) sugar. Stay natural and choose products that contain sweeteners like dates, date paste, date sugar, honey, maple syrup, and coconut sugar.