Grocery Store Scams

Grocery shopping can be overwhelming. There are thousands of products jammed in the shelves all designed by marketing masterminds working to get you to forget what is on your shopping list and buy their stuff.

Each week there are more and more products comings out claiming to be ‘healthy’ because they have added probiotics, fiber, omega-3s, etc. It can be really hard to sift through what is good for you and your diet vs. what is just marketing.

For example, at one of my local grocery stores there is a yogurt (“Super Yogurt” or something like that) that advertises 43mg of the Omega-3 fats EPA & DHA per serving (fish oil in yogurt…yum). This is a perfect example of just marketing. Those 43mg aren’t really going to do too much for you (unless you eat a container of that yogurt per day) but Omega-3s, EPA, and & DHA are food buzz words. What companies will do is put in just enough of a certain ingredient (in this case EPA/DHA) so that they can advertise it on the label and catch people’s attention.

So look out for this stuff.

Splenda with FiberBut….not all of this food engineering is necessarily bad. I have found several different products that have added components of great nutritional (and health) value, in amounts that actually make a difference.

I’ve written previously about two of my favorite low carb foods. Today I wanted to highlight another one that Emily and I have been using lately – Splenda with Fiber. This is a pretty cool product. Basically one packet has a serving of splenda and 1 gram of fiber (as you know I think we all could use more fiber). Many people use splenda in their coffee (like my wife Emily) and I use it on grapefruits. Using the splenda with fiber gives a nice little punch of fiber (with no change in taste or viscosity) to help us meet our daily needs. So when you go grocery shopping this weekend instead of getting regular splenda check out the splenda with fiber.

Let me know if you like it.


P.S. If you want to learn how to quickly and easily navigate the grocery store buying healhty foods and not getting sucked in by marketing traps check out the Grocery Shopping Made Easy DVD put together by my buddy nutritionist Chris Mohr and his wife Kara Mohr (at only $34 it is a steal).

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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27 thoughts on “Grocery Store Scams

  1. As a fitness trainer whose clients are women ONLY, one of the main topics seems to be is Splenda okay. Personally, I don't like sugar or any of it's substitutes. Many of the ladies that come to me are obviously looking for weight loss of kind. I do tell them that Splenda is better than sugar but I'd like to know what you would consider "Moderate Use" so that I can relay some more information to them from a trusted expert in nutrition.

    Thanks Mike. I look forward to your reply.

    Donovan "DFitnessguy" Owens

    • There is no definitive answer but we only use 1 packet a day. I would limit it to 3 packets per day (3 servings). Splenda advertises that you can use it for baking instead of sugar but I don't think I've ever done that.

    • On pastaqueen’s blog a month or two ago, which is mostly women readers, they had a discussion about eating spoonfuls of splenda right out of the packaging.

      When I bake, I use cane sugar. I do not think there are enough studies on these fake sugars for me to feel comfortable with using them on a regular basis.

    • very true, this isn't sugar, splenda is a filler such as maltodextrin, agave syrup is like hfc i don't care what people say about it is. Sucralose a filler, acesulfme is bad as well. Stick to stevia, stevia in the raw, or stevia with inulin, or xylitol if you are looking for a sugar substitute. Im a woman who can't have fillers and whose lactose and has hard time with soy or gluten. Yet i need to lose fat i don't get it.

  2. Hey Mike,

    Appreciate the info. I get the same questions and concerns with my clients as Donovan has described above. What are your thoughts on using Stevia instead of Spenda?

    Thanks Mike.


  3. Isn't Splenda considered "bad" for you since it is something not in it's natural form and is chemically created? I've always heard to avoid Splenda….

  4. I've heard that only natural sweeteners should be used such as agave syrup, maple syrup, and stevia. I personally use Stevia, as a little goes a long way!

    • I use stevia, too, but we shouldn't kid ourselves that it is "natural". It may come from a plant, but so does high fructose corn syrup. All of these nonsugar sweeteners—stevia, sucralose, xylitol, erythritol, etc—are highly processed.

  5. There is really no scientific evidence in humans to suggest that spenda in moderation is bad. the research regarding artificial sweeteners in animals that show detrimental effects uses insanely high doses so I don't think it is really valid.

  6. Hi Paula. How have you been?

    As I noted above – stevia is fine. Agave syrup is good too. My wife will sometimes use maple syrup in her coffee so they are all good options. At some level it comes not to calories (if you are concerned about controlling them) and preference. If you like stevia then use that.

  7. I have started using Xylitol. It's a totally natural replacement for sugar – looks like sugar tastes like sugar but is naturally made. Works for me and I feel better about eating it.

    • Mercola has found that just about anything he doesn't sell is "bad for you". Be careful about many of his overly dramatic scare stories: They are based on outdated information and improper conclusions.

  8. I understand that to create Splenda, natural sugar is cut with chlorine. Who wants chlorine in their body? I used to use Splenda in my oatmeal and tea about 2 years ago. Then I went on a detox diet that asked to not use and sugar substitutes or sweeteners. It was just a natural food diet, and I actually have a really good diet and the only thing I needed to eliminate was Splenda. I had a headache for two weeks coming off the Splenda, worse than any other "cleanse" I have done. So, after that, no more Splenda. I got used to unsweetened tea and now when I cook my oatmeal, I cut up an apple, and put in some pure vanilla extract and cinnamon, and it's a bit sweet. I don't miss the Splenda at all, and won't risk two weeks of headaches to put it back.

    • Splenda is not "cut" with Chlorine (Cl), it has had some of its -OH (hydroxyl) groups replaced with Cl (google the structure of sucrose and sucralose). The body does not really absorb this altered molecule and the vast majority passes through. For the stuff that is absorbed there have been multi-generation studies done with VERY high doses without adverse affects.

      Its water soluble (polar) so by definition it does not accumulate in your fat stores either. Fat is non-polar. Think of polar and non-polar as oil and water.

      EVERYONE NEEDS chlorine in their body. You would die without it. Its naturally present in many foods – probably all fruits and veggies.

      Also, sugar is not really all that "natural". It is a HIGHLY processed food. There are a LOT of processing steps that are needed to go from the sugar cane to the table sugar. The "raw" sugar is only one step less processed.

      If you're looking for more you can read the Federal Register on Sucralose (Splenda). Its not exactly exciting, but it summarizes 2 decades of Splenda safety research in 30 or so dry pages.

  9. YEAH it's happening witha well known brand of fish fingers here in Ireland and the UK. With Omega 3 being such a BUZZ word, they now advertise RICH in omega 3 on the box label. Think they charge more for it

  10. My wife has used splenda (one for one) when baking with no noticeable problems. If you're afraid of using Splenda, I also found Stevia w/fiber (like above) at my local ShopRite. You use less Stevia than Splenda.

  11. The Omega-3 scam in bad foods is amazing! I was just talking to my girlfriend about the yogurt yesterday. There's also a canola/soybean oil mayo that claims a day's helping of omega-3 per serving, too. Unfortunately, it also has 700 million servings of omega-6. 😉

    The worst offender is Smart Balance, which is supposed to be the perfect balance of all the fats, yet lists hardly any omega-3s and uses soybean oil as ingredient #1. Plus, at least until recently used partially hydrogenated oils to keep them solid. Just not enough to not be able to say "transfat free." bad…

  12. I think for those who can have no sugar at all, or for those dieters who crave sugar, then a little artificial sweeteners can be helpful. My diabetic brother uses them with great results. I personally do not find they add anything, but except for Dots I am not really a sugar fanatic. No self-control when it comes to Dots; still looking for a Dots-Anon group…..

  13. I picked up on some recommendation to keep the svgs. of sucralose to no more than 3 packs per day—I don’t use actual packets of any sweetener or stevia or agave at all— BUT, and we all do it, there is the daily Metabolic drive or other brand (anywhere from a half scoop to 2 1/2 scoops per day), there’s the Kroger brand Carb Masters yogurt with splenda, there’s a very occational Diet Rite made with splenda, and now your saying to check out the carb one katsup which I am all over that since I’ve had a hard time switching to salsa and siracha for burgers…let’s tally that up, um, a lot of sucralose!! We’re still really just taking our chances cuz”No one really knows!!

  14. DO NOT use the new sweetener made from stevia! Like SPLENDA, it was tinkered with in a labratory. Don’t trust it. Use only PURE stevia, which is available in most grocery stores. Also, do NOT use the stevia that comes in those “convenient” little packets. It contains maltodextrin, which is nothing more than simple sugar. Maltodextrin actually has a higher glycemic index than sugar.

  15. Again, why are you people surprised? You're acting like this was some new trend… Same routine, different name. In the 80's it was low-fat, in the 90's it was low-carb, now it's omega-3's/fiber. Manufacturers scramble to accommodate whichever trend is hot. Don't you remember all the re-inventions and re-branding of old familiar products in the name of low fat? Low carb? Or the explosion of new products in the name of low fat/low-carb? Where are they now? Ever stop to wonder?

  16. Also, tsk, tsk, Mike….Recommending SPLENDA??? You DO know Splenda is toxic right? Do you know how it's made? Yeah, the manufacturers all sing "? Splenda tastes like sugar cuz it's MADE FROM SUGAR! ?"
    But do you know what they DO to that sugar to GET IT that way? They add chlorine. That's right. You're eating freaking Clorox, people. If that doesn't frighten you, then perhaps finding out how Splenda was even discovered WILL: It was a botched formula for PESTICIDE. Look it up. Food manufacturers are laughing all the way to the bank selling you poison, making you think it's healthy. Wake the hell up, people >:.(

  17. Boy, you’ve been reading too much Mercola propaganda lately.

    While I do not use sucralose, either, your factually wrong statements need to be corrected:

    Sucralose is NOT “toxic”. Any independent chemist or doctor will define what “toxic” means in medical terms: something poisonous enough to cause injury or death even in small doses. A packet of Splenda, which is mostly maltodextrin by weight, is not “toxic”, as has been proved in all of the studies on sucralose. Even if the occasional person gets a headache from too much sucralose, that is not a symptom of toxicity. Some people get headaches from caffeine, but that does not make coffee “toxic”.

    Sucralose is NOT made by adding chlorine. Three of the hydroxyl groups in sucrose are replaced by chlorides, which occur when an extra electron is joined to a chlorine atom. Another commonly consumed chloride is table salt. Chlorine is a natural substance and is needed by the human body.

    People who consume sucralose are NOT eating Clorox. Clorox is sodium hypochlorite, which is completely different. You obviously are confused by of the different uses of the “chlor-” root word, thus a review of your junior high school chemistry book might be something to consider. Under your standard, some types of almonds, the emergency medical treatment sodium nitroprusside, some artificial vitamin B-12, and the Zyklon B gas used by the Nazis are all the same, because each has a form of cyanide.

  18. People should not be consuming Splenda. I find it appalling you wrote a sugar substitute has “great nutritional and health value”. YOU should not be giving nutritional advice. There is a lot of confusion over healthy food. LOW CALORIES DOES NOT MAKE A PRODUCT/FOOD HEALTHY! Chemicals in foods are extremely unhealthy.

    Some advice: Whats good for the shelf is bad for the body. Buy fresh produce. If man makes it DONT EAT IT J. Lanane. AND dont listen to Mike Roussell!