The food industry has a lot of dirty little secrets they don’t want you to know. Terminology that sounds straightforward, like “natural”, sounds so happy and clean but may not really mean much at all.

Let’s just dive right in and examine what “they” don’t want us to know!

1. Your Extra Virgin Olive Oil Isn’t What It Claims to Be

Olive oil isn’t a Beauty Food despite the common idea that there are several health benefits to consuming it. Olive oil (or any oil) isn’t found in nature, it’s processed. So I don’t recommend more than just an occasional splash on a salad or cooking at low temperatures.

An interesting article in The New Yorker  points out that just because the bottle says you’re getting extra virgin olive oil, that doesn’t make it true. In some cases, extra virgin olive oil is cut with oils of inferior quality (sometimes olive oil, but sometimes other vegetable oils).  The FDA says it doesn’t have the resources to test it. Who is looking out for us then? We are left, truly, to fend for ourselves and our own health. The article recommends purchasing your oil directly from the miller, if possible, so you can see it being made.

Instead of cooking with olive oil of questionable quality or sprinkling it onto your salads, get the fats you need from Beauty Fats, like coconut oil, avocados, nuts, and seeds or even whole olives. Don’t think that by replacing olive oil with vegetable oils, thinking that since the word “vegetable” is in the name, it must be good. Polyunsaturated fats like canola, corn, cottonseed grapeseed, safflower, soybean, and sunflower oxidize easily and aren’t whole foods either.

2. Artificial Coloring Lurks in Unexpected Places and Causes Hyperactivity in Kids

Artificial coloring serves one major purpose: to deceive the consumer. It makes not such great looking stuff look prettier. It makes otherwise bland-looking cereals irresistible to kids. Maybe you steer clear of those sugary cereals and the obvious candy and punch that you know contain dyes (um, Captain Crunch?!). But specially created dyes are in lots of other foods too- like added to food pellets to give farmed salmon a fresher, heathier pink look, while Yellow 5 even makes Mt. Olive and Vlassic jarred pickles look more appealing. Bread, too, often contains caramel coloring simply to look darker.

The Center for Science in the Public Interest warns that Red 40, Yellow 5, and six others contribute to “hyperactivity in children, cancer (in animal studies), and allergic reactions.” When you shop for whole, organic foods either in the supermarket or the farmer’s market, you’re seeing an array of natural beauty, and that feeds your Beauty Energy better than anything pumped full of dyes to look pretty ever could.

3. Free-Range, Cage-Free, and Natural Don’t Mean Much

Free-range may conjure up images of poultry being allowed to roam around in a large area outside, enjoying a nice life. Sadly, that’s not the case at all. It just means that they have (some) access to the outdoors. That doesn’t specify what has to be out there (like grass), how long they’re allowed outside, or the amount of space they’ll have to roam around in.free range eggs

Cage-free simply means they poultry isn’t kept in cages. Again, this doesn’t mean they’re living a blissful life in wide-open spaces. The Huffington Post points out that this doesn’t even necessarily mean the chickens are allowed outside. They still may be barely able to move around. They’re simply not in cages.

Add those inhumane practices to the fact that poultry is often pumped full of salt to preserve the meat and make leaner cuts juicier, and the additives like medications, antibiotics, heavy metals, and even Prozac, caffeine, and banned antibiotics (did you know your chicken was depressed?) and you’re eating quite an unfriendly, toxic concoction every time you dig into non-organic poultry.

“Natural” is such a loose, generic term now that it doesn’t really mean a thing…though it does sound comforting. According to an excerpt from Eric Schlosser’s Fast Food Nation at PBS.org, “a natural flavor is not necessarily healthier or purer than an artificial one.” The article goes on to explain that some ingredients are labeled as “artificial” simply because of the way they’re derived, while something considered “natural” can contain cyanide from the use of peach and apricot pits. So in essence, “natural” should be taken with a (large) grain of salt.

4. Your Breakfast Cereal  Isn’t as Healthy as You Think

Whole grains are good for you, but not everything that makes the “whole grain” claim is safe. It is not only the amount of sugar and oil that can be added to cereals to make them more appealing, but that the extrusion process itself, used to puff up certain types, can alter the proteins inside the grains and turn them into neurotoxins and wreak havoc on your digestive probiotics.  Eat Beauty Grains that haven’t been put through the extrusion process. I love oat groats and steel-cut oats (Irish oatmeal), and my Raw Rolled Oat Cereal recipe is a quick, delicious breakfast alternative to boxed cereals. You can cook your oatmeal, too, of course, but just steer clear of those packets of instant oatmeal with lots of extra sugar, salt, and other additives.

5. Artificial Sweeteners Make You Fat

Different research has shown that using aspartame, saccharine, and acesulfame potassium, and other artificial sweeteners can lead to more weight gain than the sugar you’re trying to avoid. It confuses your body when you feed it something sweet with no calories to go along with it; that leads to more cravings.artificial sweetener

So is eating refined sugar okay? No. It will cause wrinkles, dark circles under the eyes, weight gain, and cause constipation. It steals your Beauty Energy and disrupts your body’s ability to consume nutrients and use enzymes. There are plenty of naturally sweet fruits to consume once your body has been cleaned. If you really need to add sweeteners to your food, I recommend small amounts of raw coconut nectar, raw honey (from a bee keeper that uses ethical practices) maple syrup, or stevia. And agave is also big no-no!!

6. Calorie Counts Are Often Wrong

According to the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the calorie counts in pre-packaged and restaurant food are not exactly accurate. According to fast food meals averaged 18 percent more calories than stated, while frozen meals from the supermarket averaged eight percent more than their nutrition facts labels claimed. Some restaurant meals actually had up to 245% more of the estimated calories.

Good thing Beauty Detox isn’t about calorie counting in the first place. It’s so much simpler to prepare and eat Beauty Dishes at home because it frees you from hidden calories and the need to count calories at all. You’ll still lose weight, but your mind will be more focused on enjoying the colorful, beautifying foods in front of you that provide you all the essential vitamins than staying caught up in the numbers. But even if you do count, you’ll be far better off and have a much more accurate idea if you limit pre-packaged foods and stick to whole foods.

7. The Main Thing the Food Industry Doesn’t Want You to Know

The main thing the food industry doesn’t want you to know is that they don’t care about you. They care about their bottom line- not your health. Period. They will omit details and use buzzwords to draw consumers in. Labels saying “more protein’ or “reduced fat’ can still have increased amounts of refined flour and sugar, more preservatives, etc. how to read nutrition labels

Generic, catchy phrases like “higher in protein”, “low-fat”, “no sugar added”, “whole grains”, “diet by blood type”. and “heart-healthy” aren’t always as straightforward as they appear, and the food has often been strategically manipulated in other ways—mostly with salt, sugar, and fat  as well as preservatives, so that it still tastes good enough to get you hooked. If you’re eating pre-packaged, processed foods without combing through the ingredients lists first, you could be falling victim to marketing tactics.

The truth is, you’re almost never going to find Beauty Foods in the center aisles of the store, with the exception of some seeds and nuts and you’ll be healthier, more beautiful, and less stressed about shopping if you avoid those pre-packaged foods altogether. You’ll actually save money in the end, because whole foods, especially in bulk, can end up saving you more that all the pre-made stuff.

How to Get Around the Deception

The easiest way to get around most of the deception is to shop the perimeter of the store and visit farmers’ markets. Stock up on fresh, in-season, organic vegetables and fruits and skip processed, packaged items in the middle of the store. Check out our infographic to help you navigate your grocery store! Choose whole foods, and don’t let “them” aka the food industry load up your body with hidden chemicals, sugars, and other nasty ingredients that will drag down your healthy and energy.

New York Times Bestseller and Nutritionist