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The Not So Sweet Truth: Guilt-Free Options & Their Ugly Facade

Times are changing within the food industry and the appeal for healthier, more wholesome snacks are hitting new peaks. Food-crazes like Kombucha, Kumera, Kale, or other various healthy K-snacks are stocking themselves shelves in grocery stores nationwide.

Naturally (and even organically), as a market for these goods opens up, those with the means to do so will eventually try and capitalize on the newly found ground. With this noted, we look toward PepsiCo as one of the biggest perpetrators in the field.

In coining a few of its popular items as “guilt-free,” Pepsi aims to rebrand itself, leading consumers toward buying these “healthier” products, and aiding them in thinking that they have made the right, health conscious, decision. In fact, these practices have worked so well, that 45% of the company’s revenue has been coming from these guilt-free products in recent years.

The way that Pepsi defines the term “guilt-free” is also a bit eye-opening. CBS reports that the maker of Doritos, Tropicana, and Gatorade considers products falling under that term as those with “positive” ingredients such as grains, fruits, and vegetables. In use of this definition, products like diet soda, breakfast “cookies”, and the ever-popular Naked Juices (which can pack in over 400 calories and 50 grams of sugar per bottle, twice the daily recommended value) are considered to be a guilt-free indulgence, when, in fact, they should be considered a small meal.

The truth is, though, that we can sit back and blame Pepsi all we want, as they are a massive company and have enough money to brush off our Twitter rants and hashtags, but we, at Consider The Consumer, think we should look at the bigger issue. It’s not just Pepsi doing this, it’s everyone forcing their healthy, green, veggie infused packaging on us, while they’re really pouring unwanted sugar down our negligent throats.

It’s actually worth mentioning that Pepsi does not use many marketing and branding techniques to try and push these products. The words “guilt-free” or “healthy” technically aren’t attached to any of their particular products, but the sole fact that the company is willing to see and categorize these junky foods as “guilt-free” says a lot about our food industry in general.

As a nation, we must be more aware of what is going into our bodies and begin to see right through the not-so-transparent leaves on the side of those Tazo Teas we look to as the healthy alternative (30 grams of sugar, by the way – slightly under a can of Pepsi – but who’s counting?).

It is so easy to, however, we must not choose to sink our teeth into the juicy marketing these big banked brands put forth. It seems impossible at first, but to become educated in nutrition is synonymous with truly bettering your future self, and investing in yourself is the only bet you’ll ever make that you can control from start to finish.

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