Regulated and Unregulated Terms

Ok guys, this is a big one. Never mind scratch that, this is h-u-g-e. One of my major sources was IDEA Fitness Journal March 2015, I read this journal because the health world moves fast.

As you can tell in the title what I am going to talk about here is the truth of the food marketing machine, which has very little incentive to market to your health, but more to your vices and behavior change manipulation. There are two keys: 1. Be very specific with your language. "Organic" is not the same as "Made With Organic...". Ok? If you understand this point then shopping healthy at the grocery story will be easier. 2. Read the back, read the back, READ THE BACK!


Here at Healthy Exertion we emphasize that achieving health goals will never happen without having the ability to actually see the problem; which means having awareness, which means actually training that awareness. A common technique is meditation. Now, if you don't feel that your walking unaware through the groceries store, think again. Use statistical analysis with real time data to gauge your decisions based on your education level, geographic location, health & eating habits, age etc. It then becomes very easy to make you think that it was your idea to buy such and such food. What terms mean what? This one is a "natural" product, or what about this "organic" one? Or maybe this "vegetarian - fed"? O! Wait this one, "reduced - fat", that must be healthy right?

The research is very clear, most of us habitually believe the front packaging claims. Such as "rich in omega-3", "immunity booster". Those terms are as vague as saying "great new look!". For example citing"immunity booster" on the front packaging means zero. There is a term for this habitual belief, its called the "health halo effect". The front end packaging claims cause us to believe the food is healthier than it actually is.

"In fact, the average consumer makes over 200 food related decisions each day, with many of them made on “mindless autopilot,” as researchers have described it (Wansink & Sobal 2007)" (Senger, 2015).

"There is a lot of confusion out there about what food product labels mean. Terms like “gluten free, fat free, all natural” and “GMO free” imply health benefits, yet they sometimes promote processed foods full of undesirable ingredients such as refined sugars, trans fats and chemical additives" (Senger, 2015).

Here is a brief list:

  • "Natural" : 60% of people look for the word natural (CRNRC 2014). The belief is that the food has no artificial ingredients, genetically modified organism (GMO), pesticides etc. This term is largely not regulated by the FDA.
  • "Fat-Free" : This one would take a bit to explain because there are different levels. "Fat-free" means less than 0.5 grams of fat per-serving (READ THE BACK!). "Reduced-fat" must have 25% less fat than the original version (Web MD 2014). The key point here is that "reduced - fat" is relative to the original food, that is not a health standard.
  • "GLUTEN FREE In August 2013, the FDA set a gluten limit of less than 20 parts per million for foods that carry the label “gluten free,” “no gluten,” “free of gluten” or “without gluten.” But despite this term’s current trendiness, nutritional needs vary and consumers should proceed with caution. ''Gluten free’ by no means equates to a healthier choice,'..." (Singer, 2015). 
    • In fact, if you read the back, they sometimes add more sugar to gluten free foods.

Here are the main points (Senger, 2015):

  1. Beware of the hype 
  2. Read the back
  3. Be aware of the health halo
  4. Eat Whole foods. Period.
  5. Find a food philosophy - don't get lost in looking at the components of food, it is away to connect with life and nourishment.
  6. Eat Local & that which was farmed without mono-crops.

This post would run to long for me to give every detail, but do your research. Healthy Exertion is here to help, click here to contact us. Or go down to the bottom and check our references to start there.



CRNRC (Consumer Reports® National Research Center). 2014. Survey research report: Food Labels Survey. Accessed Nov. 30, 2014. (


Web MD. 2014. Lowfat diet: Why fat free isn't trouble free. Accessed Nov. 30, 2014. (