What I love about being a Health & Wellness Coach is that parents are now approaching me and having health conversations. This means more people are starting to think about what we are eating – this is a great thing!
Recently at school, a Dad (Jim) was talking to me about how he has made the move away from sugar and been using Stevia. He said he found it a little frustrating to cook with though because it wasn’t easy to convert a recipe from sugar to Stevia. I totally agreed because you only need the tiniest amount of Stevia because it is so sweet.
For those of you who may not be aware of Stevia, it is a natural extract from the leaves of the Stevia plant and is a replacement for sugar. Stevia is considered to be great for diabetics because it does not raise blood sugar levels. It has zero calories or carbohydrates and many consider this a benefit too.
But this post is not meant to be about Stevia, it is really meant to draw your attention to how products are marketed and how you really need to check labels before making a purchase.
Marketing is designed to get you to buy a product. Words push the boundary of truth to entice you to buy. This is why it’s important to read the BACK of the labels.
Turning back to Jim at school, a few days after our initial discussion about Stevia, he caught up with me again and was very excited because he had found a Stevia product which allowed a one for one conversion of sugar to Stevia. This meant if a recipe said use 1 teaspoon of sugar, then he could simply replace it with one teaspoon of Stevia. I didn’t want to burst his bubble, so I simply said that it sounded great but I wondered how they did it because Stevia is so strong. I suggested he have a look at the ingredients list and the nutritional panel.
That afternoon, we had another discussion about this new one for one product. He was horrified and angry because he had read the label and this is what he found:
The very first ingredient on the label (the first ingredient is always the ingredient that’s of highest volume in the product) was in fact Maltodextrin. Now keeping in mind that Stevia is touted as being good for diabetics because it has a zero glycemic index rating and doesn’t raise blood sugar levels. Maltodextrin is the exact opposite. Of all forms of sugar, it has the HIGHEST glycemic rating of 110. Matlodextrin makes up 55% of the ingredients in this product!
The next two ingredients called Fructofibres make up 42%. So the top three ingredients making up 97% of the product are not Stevia. Then finally Steviol Glycosides get a mention. Now there is even question about whether this Steviol Gylcoside can be considered natural because of the amount of chemical processing it takes to create it from the Stevia plant.
I asked Jim to send me pictures of the labels so I could share it with you. He sent me these photos but also said this in his email:
“This is so misleading, it could actually kill a diabetic who does not read the label!”
I hope Jim’s investigative work and this blog helps to highlight just how important it is to read the back of the labels. Make sure you always read the labels, especially the ingredients. Alot of the ingredients in our products today are causing so many of the issues with children’s health, particularly behavioural issues but also asthma, eczema and more. If you want to know more about this, read the book Additive Alert by Julie Eady – it will blow your mind, make you angry at what’s been allowed to happen to our food supply and make you think differently about the foods on our supermarket shelf.
My recommendation to you is be a stand for your children’s and families health. Read the back of labels of the products you buy and take notice of the ingredients. If there are lots of numbers, then it is a sign the product is highly processed, so put the product back on the shelf. If the first ingredient is not what the product is marketed to be, then put it back on the shelf!
Another important thing to remember, is even if you have checked the label of a product you buy regularly, it is to wise to check them every few months or so, because manufacturers can and do change ingredients and there is no law requiring them to tell you about these changes.
If you’ve had an experience like Jim, I would love you to let me know so I can share it with our community.