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Zareer Patell

Food companies are always looking for new ways to trick their customers by exploiting food labels.

All this has made a few of us turn into detectives in order to figure out the truth behind products and whether they are good for us and for our children as well.

Many times it’s the packaging you see nowadays – portrayed as organic, directly from the farm – all wrapped in brown paper with an artisanal looking label and tied with rustic twine that convinces you that their product is healthy and worthy of the higher price tag. Most likely, they are nowhere near being healthy and wholesome.

Food companies also employ ‘colour psychology ‘ to prompt an emotional response. Earthy tones like greens and browns trick us to believe that the food is healthy, eco-friendly, wholesome and natural. The subdued colours make us believe that artificial colours and flavours have not been used.

For example, all the protein bars, granola bars, and energy bars that you see are not really healthy as portrayed. The labels may say: No sugar added, vegan, gluten-free, keto, organic, 100% natural etc; All these messages are not a good indication that the food is healthy or not. For most of us the labelling is so confusing and overwhelming.

For eg; When you see ‘No Sugar Added’ on a cereal bar or on a food box, it does not mean that the product has no sugar in it. It simply means that the sugar in the food didn’t actually come from someone putting table sugar during processing in the mix.

The sugar can come from so many sources: like honey, dates, jaggery and from dried fruits. Those sugar molecules are exactly the same you find in table sugar – and sugar, we all know (now) is highly inflammatory and can trigger proliferation of cells – and is also the foremost cause of metabolic syndrome. Unfortunately, it took us 60 years to realise this.

What to do?
Learn and read up on sugar and food molecules – about proteins, fats and carbohydrates – with their caloric profile. But be careful about where you source the information from. Online articles on nutrition can be downright confusing with their contradictory – and often unfounded – suggestions and rules.

Stick to homemade natural food as much as possible. Cut down on fast food if you want to live long.

Steer clear from ready made snacks, soft drinks and even diet sodas – all of which are highly processed in factories.

Focus on a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and heart healthy fats that come from nuts, olives and cold pressed oils.

This way, hopefully, you don’t fall victim to these multi billion dollar food campaigns.

Zareer Patell – Black Belt, Personal / Fitness Trainer, Consultant on Call and Wellness Columnist (since 1972).


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The fabled fountain of youth has become a reality. Centuries ago, Ponce de Leon went chasing after it & started a trend that exists to this day. The waters of the Bahamas & Florida that de Leon believed could restore health & youth – although nice to swim in – didn’t quite cut it. You can also forget about finding the answer on some mountaintop.

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