Deception Down the Dairy Aisle {The Healthy Eating Made Simple Series}

I’ve mentioned in previous posts in the Healthy Eating Made Simple series that as a general rule, the outer perimiter of the grocery store is the best place to walk when in search or real, whole foods. You’ll find vegetables and fruits that haven’t been cooked or peeled, fish filets on ice, and whole chickens. Twinkies and Ho Hos are lurking elsewhere.

Deception Down the Dairy Aisle, part of the Healthy Eating Made Simple series @

But then there is the milk and cheese aisle. It seems like it also should be a haven of health, but too often, it’s a place of dairy deception. Sounds menacing, doesn’t it? Joking aside, there really are some important things to be aware of when choosing dairy products from the store. 

As with about any packaged food choice, one of the best things you can do when making dairy choices for your family is to read the nutrition and ingredients label. The nutrition label will be key for one reason.

Added Sugar

Have you ever looked at how much sugar is in one single serving of flavored yogurt? Generally speaking, you’re looking at around 25 grams, give or take a little. That’s even more sugar than is in an entire Kit Kat candy bar!

Many of us turn to yogurt for healthy probiotics, and that can be a great choice! The sugar content is not, though. So before you put those little flavored containers into your cart, take a look at the label.

While I generally ignore the nutrition facts label, I do like it for the sake of knowing exactly how much sugar is in the food. Don’t forget to read the ingredients label, too. You’ll see how many sugar sources are in the food, along with where they rank proportionally with the rest of the ingredients.

Artificial Sweeteners, Colors, and Flavors

The next trick happens with ingredients like artificial sweeteners, colors, and flavors. “Lite” yogurts and sugar-free chocolate milk are presented as a better choice. However, they going to be sweetened with something, and if it isn’t sugar, it’s something fake. {Here’s an easy rule: if it’s artificial, it’s not real, and you should’t eat it.}

Artificial coloring and flavoring is also prevalent in some dairy products, namely yogurt and flavored milk. Rather than adding to the benefit of dairy items, these extra ingredients really take away from what could be a beneficial and nutritional food.

Deception Down the Dairy Aisle, part of the Healthy Eating Made Simple series @

Low & No-Fat Foods

Another attempt to make dairy foods appear healthier is the low-fat and fat-free dairy phenomenon. Everything from milk, cottage cheese, yogurt, and sour cream are made as low-fat or fat-free items. Now, I get that milk can be skimmed, but friends, it doesn’t take much intellect to figure out that sour cream ought to have some fat.

During my first pregnancy, I was still in the middle of the low-fat heyday. I thought it would be better for me to snack on fat-free cottage cheese, and as much as I wanted to like it, I thought it was horrible. Gross. Not. Worth. A. Red. Penny.

Besides making food taste better, fat helps to keep us full longer and makes certain vitamins more available to our body. God put it in dairy foods and I don’t believe that we should try to eliminate it.

Thickeners, Stabilizers, Preservatives, and More

I remember picking up a container of organic sour cream and being so disappointed with the number of ingredients listed. I expected two, maybe three. Cream, salt, something else?

Nope. The first ingredient was skim milk (that one still puzzles me) and it had a substantial amount of stabilizers and thickeners. The ingredients have since changed to a more simplified list, thankfully. But it was a good reminder that labels are still very important to read even when a product is organic! Gums, cellulose, and carrageenan are often used as thickeners but are generally best avoided.

Another trick to be watchful of are cheese “products” that are placed right beside regular cheese in the store, like this pasteurized process cheddar cheese food with natural smoke flavor. This item really isn’t food. Any time the word “process” is on the package, that’s a red flag. Note two of the questionable ingredients.

Deception Down the Dairy Aisle, part of the Healthy Eating Made Simple Series @

Shredded cheese is a nice convenience, but it is generally coated in cellulose (a product made by cooking wood fiber in various chemicals) and treated with the mold inhibitor natamycin. Call me crazy, but I’d prefer my cheese without the wood fiber, and while I don’t want it with mold, in most cases I’d rather not eat substances that kill it. Block cheese will lack those two items.

Best Bets Down the Dairy Aisle

The dairy aisle isn’t a lost cause, though. With some basic knowledge and a quick scan over the food label, you can make some good whole food choices in a regular supermarket.

  • Choose whole, unflavored yogurt and sweeten/flavor it at home with real sweeteners like natural jams, crushed fruit, honey, maple syrup, or stevia.
  • Make sure your choices have simple ingredients lists that lack extra flavorings and colors.
  • Opt for block cheese over shredded, and simply shred it at home when it’s needed.
  • Avoid reduced-fat and fat-free items and opt for their full-fat counterparts.

I purposefully left off the hefty discussion on the merits of milk, but hang with me. That’s coming up next.

Did you realize how much sugar is in yogurt? Do the added ingredients in many dairy foods surprise you?

Ready for more God-honoring natural health help?

Sign up below for practical know-how and expert guidance about herbs, essential oils, and natural living. You’ll also get my FREE guide when you do:
3 Simple Things You Can Get at the Store Tomorrow to Get a Jumpstart with Natural Health

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

    This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


    1. I just recently read that some dairies are adding aspartame to their skim milk. Aspartame!!! Yuck!!! And thanks for the heads up about shredded cheese…I admit, that’s an area of laziness I need to conquer, and just shred it myself!!!

      1. Ugh! Yes, and now aspartame may be going by a new name, too? I feel like I have to be a detective while shopping sometimes!