Healthy Foods, Stealthy Calories

Foods wrapped in healthy halos may lead you to eat more. An article in USA Today, explains that “halo foods,” whose labels make healthful claims such as “gluten free” or “no trans fats” or which advertise healthy or natural ingredients like agave or coconut oil, may deliver the same number of calories or more than similar foods without the health claims.

Worse, because the ingredients and claims make us believe the food is good for us, we may end up eating more of it than we would of a comparable, non-haloed product. The article points to granola bars with as many calories as a candy bar and yogurt-covered pretzels and gummy “fruit” snacks containing barely any yogurt or fruit as examples of foods that carry a false halo of being healthy. The article recommends reading labels, considering portion sizes, using common sense, and eating mindfully to avoid the overpromise of haloed foods.

Click here to read the USA Today article and here to read an analysis by Pierre Chandon of health halos that lead to overeating.