MAKING BETTER CHOICES
Being health conscious and making better choices in the “google it” age seems like it should be a breeze. We have endless resources and information in the palm of our hands (when we’re not aimlessly scrolling through instagram), but at a time where there is as much noise as there are choices in the “health food” aisle, we don’t blame you for feeling overwhelmed or let down.
HONESTY AND REAL FOOD INGREDIENTS.
This post stems from a recent focus group exercise we undertook (4 groups of 8 people, 3 female groups, 1 male group) which was facilitated by an expert so we could better understand how to serve the people who care (you awesome humans). It was amazing to sit behind the 1 way window to listen and watch complete strangers speak openly about our products (and 15 of our competitors) with no idea which product they were there to chat about (until the very end). It became immediately apparent with all groups that they are sick of being marketed to, bombarded with claims only to find out that there is so much BS in the “health” space. Zero Carbs, No added sugar, Natural Flavours, Brown Rice Syrup, numbers, stevia, monk-fruit, the list goes on.
DECIPHERING THE CLAIMS AND INGREDIENTS LIST
Our packs might be a good place to start, let’s have a look at the Peanut Butter Protein Bar; front of pack claims are Hand-Baked, free range egg white & 11,200mg Collagen. It’s reasonably easy to tick the claims off if you flip the pack & check the ingredients list. I won’t go through all 7 of our ingredients ;) but you can quickly see that this bar has MCT oil and that the ingredients are 100% Natural whole-foods. Egg white is one of the highest sources of Branch Chain Amino Acids, almost twice the profile of whey protein. Tick, tick, tick.
WHY NATURAL FLAVOURS ARE NOT SO NATURAL
Where we find it gets misleading is when you see Zero Carbs or no added sugars, only to purchase the bar and find it's sweeter than a tim-tam dipped in honey, or when you see natural flavours in the ingredients list. Let’s break it down.
Zero Carbs or No Added Sugars - The usual suspects when you see zero carbs are sugar alcohols (made in a lab) sorbitol, erythritol, xylitol, and maltitol. They are sweet, cheap and nasty, and overconsumption can lead to bloating, diarrhea and flatulence because they are not fully absorbed in the small intestine. Some individuals experience such symptoms even in a single-serving quantity.
Natural Flavours - Natural flavours are complex mixtures created by specially trained food chemists known as flavourists. In addition to their original flavour source, these mixtures can contain more than 100 different chemicals, including preservatives, solvents, and other substances. These are defined as "incidental additives."
However, food manufacturers aren't required to disclose whether these additives come from natural or synthetic sources. As long as the original flavouring source comes from plant or animal material, it is classified as a 'natural flavour'.
What's more, because the term "natural" has no official definition, flavours sourced from genetically modified crops can also be labeled as 'natural'.
WHY YOU SHOULD READ THE INGREDIENTS LIST
The moral of this story is, flip the pack and read the ingredients list, if it doesn’t match up to the claims & your beliefs or has tonnes of unnecessary or unnatural fillers, stick it back on the shelf and look for something with a minimal whole food ingredients list (hint; Blue Dinosaur Bars!)