Are You Being Fooled By Label Distraction?

Deceptive food labels harm healthy eater

Looks pretty healthy, right. Or not…

When you try so hard to eat healthy and to avoid harmful ingredients, it’s frustrating to find yourself a victim of Label Distraction.

Just yesterday it happened to me…

I was having a pleasant conversation with a woman who works with with me occasionally. She excitedly told me about a new “healthy” packaged snack that she found.

“I thought of you when I tried these fruit gummies,” she said. “It would be so great for your kids. The package says it’s gluten free!”

Hmmmm, I’m not big on packaged foods, especially when it comes to my kids — I’d rather feed them whole foods — but I made a mental note to check out the snack next time I was at the store.

(BTW I love getting food recommendations! My inner food-a-holic lives to discover new and delicious tastes.)

Sure enough, I found the “healthy” gummies and saw the big gluten-free stamp on the label, along with the claim to be made with real fruit.

Good deal, it’s gluten-free and there are pretty pictures of fruit on the package. So I put a box of it in my basket and started off towards the checkout line.

Wait a minute, it hit me that I hadn’t flipped the package over to read the ingredient list. That NEVER happens to me! I’m a die-hard label reader. But this package, with its label full of key words like ‘gluten-free’ and ‘real fruit’ had distracted me right out of my label reading habit.

I stopped in my tracks and flipped the package over, fully expecting it to be made with 100% real fruit…only to see corn syrup listed high on the ingredient list.

Gulp. I almost bought my kids a snack made with corn syrup while feeling like I was getting them something healthy. Yikes, that was a close one.

Then I realized that this was exactly what the food manufacturer was counting on. That their fancy, flashy labels with catchy key words and phrases would distract us right out of reading the actual ingredient list.

Don’t let Label Distraction fool you into purchasing food with unhealthy ingredients. Always read the ingredient list.

You can be sure that I’ll be more vigilant than ever about reading food labels after this near miss!

Here’s where you can find recipes for healthy, homemade snacks made with Real Food Ingredients. Enjoy 🙂


  • April McDuffy January 28, 2014 at 8:13 pm

    I hate corn syrup. It is in almost everything. My 2 yr old is allergic to it and it creeps on you, if you are not paying attention to each ingredient. Even when it says gluten free, because gluten free foods also contain. Corn syrup or dairy which my son is also allergic too. Thank you for the information.

    • Diana January 28, 2014 at 8:43 pm

      It is in almost everything, so crazy. You’re welcome for the info and good luck with your son!

  • ale January 28, 2014 at 8:30 pm

    My 7 year oldson reads the labels on everything and refuses to eat it if it has “corn sugar”, as he calls it. It’s surprising how many people get upset that he does that. It’s also surprising that is in things that shouldn’t even be sweet!

    • Diana January 28, 2014 at 8:42 pm

      That’s cute! Good for him, that’s a great way to eat healthier.

  • Donald Pearline January 28, 2014 at 9:19 pm

    As an experienced food scientist, I also read labels. I appalled by the many ways companies now hide sugar by calling it dried cane juice. This is of course, pure unadulterated sugar.
    Not only must the consumer read the labels. but they must be educated on some of the terms now being used.

    • Diana January 29, 2014 at 6:51 pm

      Thanks for your input Donald!

  • Vicki January 29, 2014 at 1:53 am

    Can I ask this… most lollies say they contain Glucose (from wheat)… for gluten free you can buy ones with Glucose (from corn).

    Is this corn syrup… or is it different?

    • Diana January 29, 2014 at 6:51 pm

      Hi Vicki,
      Yes, glucose from corn would likely be a form of corn syrup.

  • Polita January 30, 2014 at 9:30 am

    Thank you for the warning Diana. I am always reading the ingredients lists of packaged products (my boyfriend teases me because I take so long to do the shopping since I’m always doing this) and it infuriates me when I see all the nasty things that are added to otherwise healthy foods! Some foods do not even need sweetners to be added, but there will be corn syrup included. It’s in almost everything that is packaged or processed 🙁

    • Diana January 31, 2014 at 7:28 pm

      Hopefully one day this will change, but you’re right, nowadays nearly all packaged foods have corn syrup. Crazy when you think of how horrible it is for our bodies!

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