Be careful of this when reading labels on packages

January 20, 2020

My collection of “things to be careful of when reading labels” got a new entry during my recent trip to the grocery store.  Yes, it was another instance of me shaking my head, digging out my cell phone and taking pictures…while my husband groaned headed for a different aisle.

While I like making my own stocks and broths I don’t always have the time or my freezer stash has run out, so I try to keep a box or two of chicken or vegetable broth on hand in my pantry.   That means some careful label reading in the grocery store since there are usually many options to choose from.  How do you avoid getting fooled?

Another example of why you should ignore the front of the box

Now a few of us don’t have to watch how much sodium we eat, but many of us should be.  I would rather “spend” my sodium allowance on a food I really enjoy instead of wasting it on a product when there are lower sodium options available that still taste good.

If you look at the pictures at the top of this post, which one do you think will have a lower sodium level?

Facts not marketing!

As I’ve said to people who see me on an individual basis as well as in workshops and talks that I give, what is on the front of a package is only about two things: getting you thinking what the food company wants you to think and getting you to buy that item!  Packages are a huge advertisement for each product.

Much thought and expense go into designing the front of each package.  With  40,000 to 50,000 items in a typical grocery store, package design is key for the company producing the product and the grocery store selling it.  What is on the front of a package is not about facts.  It’s about sales!  So here’s my first piece of advice:

Ignore the front of the package!

So where should you look?

Instead of looking at the front of the package look at only two areas on the entire package: ingredients and the nutrition facts panel.  Now, even these can be confusing which is why I spend time discussing reading labels with nearly everyone who works with me on improving their health or nutrition.  (There is a lot of myths and misinformation that people pick up!)

Earlier in this post, I shared the front of the packages, now let’s look at the nutrition facts panels from each one.  Which has the lower sodium?  The one that said it on the front of the package or the other one?

Yes, it’s not the one that advertises itself as being lower sodium!  Now the difference between the two options is small and there’s nothing wrong or illegal with what the company did on the package.  It didn’t say it was the “lowest” option they offered.  The company was simply comparing the product to their “regular” product.

It does, however, raise an important point…

Regardless of whether your watching sodium, added sugars, carbohydrates or something else do this the next time you are in the grocery store: Pick one or two items from your list and look at other options instead of your typical choice.  Look options from the same brand or even another brand.  You may find one that’s a better choice.

Making better choices

If you’d like help in making better choices set up an appointment with me or arrange a discovery call with me to see if I can help you.  (Your insurance may even pay all or part of the cost of an appointment!)

Not ready to see if I can help you?  Sign up for my mailing list and get some more of my tips and recipes while you decide if you’re ready to make a change that can help you feel better and enjoy life more.


Related Posts


Having personally struggled with weight and gut health issues, I understand how easy it is to think that food is the enemy especially with the changes our bodies undergo as we age.  It doesn’t have to be that way!

I love using my extensive education and coach approach to help people realize it is possible to feel better and be healthier while still enjoying their life and food.

Get my secrets to successfully making changes