There’s no better time to begin implementing healthy habits like the New Year, it’s 365 days of new possibilities. Now that it’s 2016, many of us have already started following through on our resolutions to eat healthier and exercise more by avoiding junk food and sweating it out at the gym. However, before you become too enthusiastic with all the food at the health food store, there are a few things you should know.
A recent study published in the Journal of the Association for Consumer Research found that if we believe a food is healthy, we eat more of it. It makes sense, right? We can easily justify eating a couple handfuls of granola versus a couple handfuls of potato chips.
The cookie experiment mentioned in the study had participants consume either a cookie with packaging presenting it as healthy or a cookie with notably unhealthy packaging. Those who ate the healthy cookie experienced more hunger after consumption than those who ate the regular cookie. In fact, the study coauthor Jacob Suher notes that the findings support the “healthy equals less filling” theory. This simply means that we eat healthy foods in larger amounts because they are perceived to be less filling than other unhealthy foods.
Bottom line, it’s probably not the best idea to rely on the packaging to tell you if a food is “healthy” or “unhealthy”. Today, there are so many healthy buzzwords thrown around like organic, non-GMO, gluten free, allergen free, etc., that labels can quickly go from informative to misleading. Remember, companies want their products to sell and will do just about anything to get you to buy them. Use your best judgment and if necessary, read the ingredient list.