A number of people make great resolutions to eat healthier at the start of a new year. One of the ways they do so is to swear off eating out in restaurants and cook more meals at home.

However, you need to realize that the same tricks that restaurants use to make dishes more appealing are used my food manufacturers.

  1. Pretty packaging attracts us to one food item over another. However, the most important part of a package is the Nutritional Guidelines box on the back. Ever wonder why it is so plain and standardized on EVERY food item? It is just objective information for your protection.
  2. Deceptive “healthy” or “all natural” labels are all the rage. You will see foods labeled as “No Cholesterol!” and think that means healthy. Well, sugar cubes (since they have no animal products in them) are cholesterol free as well, but I do not think you should eat them all day. Likewise, “100% natural” and “organic” labels do not mean a great choice. Take a look at the calories in a large packet of granola the next time you are at a store…
  3. Hidden serving sizes are a new way to hide the ugly truth. I picked up a small container of Kung Pao chicken the other day because the label said it was only 380 calories per serving. Too bad there were 5 servings in this tiny package.

Don’t feel duped. Get informed. There is always a healthier, viable choice to most meals. Check out this article from the Today show about the worst supermarket choices. Each has a substitution that may not be as good as the original, but it is better than running an extra 5 miles a day on the treadmill to compensate for 5 minutes worth of pleasure.