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10 Sneaky Ways We Are Fooled by Food Marketing

Accept it or not we are manipulated by food marketing.

How we are tricked to buy food products and what can we do?

Food marketing, food labels

Every day we make up to 200 decisions about food and drink and these are very rarely made based on nutritional facts. We know where we make the most important food decisions: in the supermarket. And this is the place where we are manipulated the most. As soon as we enter into the supermarket we are in the hands of food marketing.

And we happily throw ourselves into these hands. Why? Because we are too tired, we are in a hurry, we would like just get over it quickly. Or we are just too lazy to investigate and read food labels. Or we want entertainment and amusement during our walk in the supermarket: we are intrigued to find new, exciting products or good deals. Or all these together play a role to follow marketing instead of our own judgment.

We use our beliefs to make decisions about food like “sugar is bad” then “low-sugar” is good for us. So we place the low-sugar product into our shopping trolley without checking the nutritional labels about fat and salt content and additives.

Food labels: help us or fool us?


We are not good at estimating calories in food, especially when we are influenced by health claims on the food label. When a food is labelled as ‘healthy’, ‘natural’, ‘low-fat’ or ‘low-sugar’ we are prone to think that it is a low-calorie product – but they usually aren’t.

What do these labels actually mean?

What food labels actually mean?


It counts where do you meet the product: the location can influence our decision. If the product is among the ‘healthy food’ or ‘free-from’ products we are prone to think that it is low in calories and has more health benefits than other products. Gluten-free products are a good example: most people think gluten-free products contain less calorie and have more health benefits than their normal counterparts. However, gluten-free means simply that the product does not contain gluten – but it may high in sugar, fat, and additives. Gluten-free products offer health benefits only for people with coeliac disease or gluten-sensitivity.


We are prone to consume more of the ‘healthy’ food than the normal food. Studies proved that we consume more after working out or we think that we ‘deserved’ a dessert after having a salad. If a product is low in calories we think it’s okay to eat more. At the bottom line, we consume more calories than we would have eaten ‘normal’ food. Similarly, we put more from the low-calorie product into our shopping trolley with a good feeling that we made a healthy choice.

Just popping into the store


Did you pop into the store to buy milk or cat food? And you came out with lots of other items in your shopping trolley – except milk and cat food? How could you be so distracted? It is not your fault, you were distracted by so many things.

Whenever you just pop into the store to buy a simple everyday product – it is always in the furthest corner of the store. So you have to walk through the length of the store and there are plenty of opportunities to be tempted.

Are you a constantly tired Mum?

Follow this free action plan

to get your energy back!

The Best 7 Nutritional Swaps To Be an Energetic Mum

With a printable reference.​


Placing items on eye-level to direct your attention is a well-known trick. Tempting branded products with stylish packaging are usually on eye-level, anything the store is less interested in selling will be below or above eye-level, where you’re less likely to see it.


Colourful, eye-catching items positioned towards the end of the aisles while your everyday item is in the middle of the aisle (usually below or above eye-level). So you have to pass these attention attractive items at least twice.


Obstacles make you stop at certain points because you have to slow down and stop to put products into your trolley. If you look around in the supermarkets there are obstacles placed between aisles these slow you down or stop and while you are waiting… You just pick up something from the shelves… something that wasn’t on your shopping list.


Offering free samples of food and drink attract customers and make them feel guilty if they do not buy the product. This is just another way for retailers to convince you to buy something that you did not want to – and surely it is not on your shopping list. Indeed, freebies are usually in the luxury category and very rarely good for your health.


The background music and even the scent of the store / department put you into the mood to shop. Even if only a fragment of the bakery products is baked freshly in the store the smell attracts the customers and make them hungry. Just like the strong smell around McDonalds and coffee shops…


Even the size of the shopping trolley encourages you to buy more item – or even to fill the cart entirely. They are big, very big – a few shopping items look nothing in it. So we think it is not a big deal, we can spend more. But wWhen you have to carry your purchases yourself, you’re going to think twice about picking up extras.


What can you do?

— Avoid after-work shopping: plan ahead and do your shopping when you are not tired and hungry (More on Meal Planning in this post: Meal planning)

— Limit the number of food shopping to 1-2 per week. Less trip to the supermarket less temptation.

— Instead of concentrating “low in” products learn the building blocks of a balanced diet and learn the serving sizes of real food. This way you can get rid of feeling guilty and still enjoy real food. (More on Balanced diet in family here: What does it mean balanced diet in a family)

— Read the detailed nutritional guide and the ingredients list at the back. The front label only gives limited – and sometimes misleading – information.

— If you want to buy only a few items take a shopping basket instead of shopping trolley.

— Write a shopping list and stick to it.

Are you a constantly tired Mum?

Follow this free action plan

to get your energy back!

The Best 7 Nutritional Swaps To Be an Energetic Mum

With a printable reference.​

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