Don’t Judge Food by the Cover

It drives me crazy every time I see a “tricky” looking package that misleads consumers into thinking one thing or another. There is no question that the terminology on food packages these days can be hard to decipher. That is why I like to say just ignore the front (especially the health claims) and only read the ingredients on the back when making your purchase decisions.

These are perfect examples of why you really can’t judge anything by the way it looks on the outside!

ProductJudging by its cover…What’s really inside

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I used to buy this exact bread up until our real food transition earlier this year. I mean it says “wheat” right on the front so it must be some sort of combination bread or as close to “wheat” as you can get and still be eating white bread, right?In my opinion this product tackles one of the biggest misconceptions out there when it comes to grains. For some reason “whole-wheat” has been given the nickname “wheat”. But you see, even white flour and white bread are technically made from the wheat plant. It is just a highly refined version of wheat (after all the good stuff is taken out that is). To truly get the goodness that wheat has to offer it must be “whole-wheat”, and trust me if it is whole it will say it. If something simply says “wheat” then keep on looking.


This one is fairly similar to the one above. The front of the box says they are “wheat” and it also says they are made with honey, which most of us know is a slightly more natural alternative to sugar (although it should still be consumed in moderation).I don’t want to sound like a broken record so just refer to the product above in regards to the word “wheat” alone not really meaning anything good. Also, when you check the ingredients you won’t even see honey on the list, it does have sugar listed as the third* ingredient though. And make sure you don’t miss the fine print that informs you this product is “artificially flavored” after all. Sounds delicious, doesn’t it?

Here is another product that I used to fall for as well…thinking it was a great choice for my kids as opposed to just plain white pasta. As it says on the front it is a good source of protein and omega-3. So one could only assume that “non-plus” pasta doesn’t provide these nutrients?As it turns out the absolute best pasta choice out there is simply just good ol’ whole-wheat (or another whole-grain pasta). There doesn’t need to be any fancy health claims or nutrients added to whole-wheat pasta, because it is naturally packed with the good stuff. This plus pasta product is made with white flour and a few extras, but there is nothing whole-grain about it.



I actually fell for this one pretty recently…just for a few moments though. The very large words on the front that read “Real Fruit Bites” caught my eye as I am always looking for new real food products that we haven’t tried before.Once you look a little closer you see the fine print underneath the big words that say “with yogurt” and pretty much any flavored yogurt is full of sugar. It’s not to say that this snack isn’t better than a bag of chips, I am just saying that the wording is a little tricky when the second* ingredient is a yogurt coating that is packed full of sugar!

*According to the FDA’s website “Listing ingredients in descending order of predominance by weight means that the ingredient that weighs the most is listed first.”

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11 thoughts on “Don’t Judge Food by the Cover”

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  1. Do more research….human bodies really do not digest whole grain well. Something to do with only having 1 stomach. Historically human diet did not include grains & grasses because they were undigestable with only 1 stamach and no nutrirional value.

  2. I would love to see a list of common regular grocery store breads, grains, etc that are up to the task of “real” food. I would love to start the switch to more whole real foods but have a family that resists the “new”. Need to start adding things they won’t notice.

  3. I am one that has a very hard time with whole wheat pasta, as the texture is too different. I have been using Barilla plus, your article made me think and feel a little guilty, however…
    “Barilla Plus pasta, for example, lists semolina as the first ingredient, just like regular white pasta. But the second ingredient is a “grain and legume flour blend, ” consisting of lentils, chickpeas, flaxseed, barley, spelt and oats. With 4 grams of fiber per serving, this still is a pretty decent option for pasta fans.

    Similarly, a closer look at the label of Barilla’s Whole Grain pasta reveals that it’s “made with 51 percent whole wheat.” At least the first ingredient is whole durum wheat, followed by (white) semolina. The fact that they add oat fiber helps to boost the fiber content to 6 grams per serving.”
    So I am not perfect, but I am not going to feel guilty about eating barilla plus or serving it to my family. All things in moderation after all.

    1. I agree about Barilla Plus. I find the texture much better than whole wheat pasta and I can still enjoy my angel hair while getting a bit extra protein. Not switching!

  4. I just bought the Dole Fruit Bites (Mango) on Saturday. I had a coupon and they seemed like a good choice (at first). Though, once I tasted them I couldn’t believe how sweet they were. I couldn’t eat more than 3 of them!! Then when I closely examined them (unfortunately after purchasing them) and noticed that package was less than 2 oz and was 80 calories! *Yikes!!* I’d so rather eat a 6 oz container of Dannon Light and Fit yogurt for 90 calories.

    1. 100 Days of Real Food

      Even be careful with the dannon yogurt b/c it probably has sugar or an artificial sweetener in it. Try buying plain yogurt and flavoring it yourself with a little bit of honey. Chances are you will put a lot less sweetener in there than the factory!

  5. The Dole fruit bites had me fooled too, but I am also a label reader, so I put them back on the shelf after realizing they had that fake sugary yogurt coating. They are tricky, those marketers! Have you seen where they are trying to change the name of HFCS to corn sugar? They know that enough people are avoiding HFCS, but that a majority of the same people won’t be savvy enough to realize it’s the same product!

    1. 100 Days of Real Food

      I did see that about HFCS, and I hope it does not get passed! If is does, we will just have to inform people about that trick too!