I stopped believing long ago any claims made by the food industry fat cats...so I wasn't surprised in the least by a new study that finds calorie information on menus and food labels to be flat-out false.

In most cases, you're eating more than you've been told, whether you're dining out or heating up a frozen dinner.

Sometimes a lot more.

Makes sense to me -- they shovel out more meals if calorie- counting customers think they're shoveling in less, right?

Tufts University researchers found that big chain restaurants underestimated their already-bloated calorie counts by an average of 18 percent -- and as much as 200 percent. Frozen meals -- the tasteless, nutrition-free heat- and-serve "dinners" you can buy in the supermarket -- were off by an average of 8 percent, according to the study in the Journal of the American Dietician Association.

Of course, all this is perfectly legal. In its never-ending quest to protect big business and keep American consumers completely in the dark, the FDA actually allows for discrepancies of up to 20 percent for packaged foods.

Outrageous? You bet!

But that's not even the REAL crime here -- that's just a distraction. Try reading the ingredients instead of the calorie count. If you're eating meal-in-a-can or frozen dinners every night, or indulging in food from chain restaurants, you've got much bigger problems than counting calories.

These so-called foods are packed with the worst carbs, soy, preservatives, meat byproducts that shouldn't even be called meat, and more. Just last week I told you about the pink slime invading American hamburger. Click here to read that – if you can stomach it.

I don't care how many calories you're eating -- if you're swallowing that junk, you're heading for an early grave, plain and simple...especially if you're eating those nasty and completely ineffective frozen diet meals.

Want to know the best way to read a food label? Read it, and put it back on the shelf. Better yet, skip every aisle in the supermarket and buy the fresh foods on the perimeter -- the ones that usually don't have any label beyond weight and price.

Focus on grass-fed beef, free-range chicken, pork and fish. Add a variety of fresh vegetables (French fries don't count). Avoid vegetable oils, fake butter and anything with sugar or artificial sweeteners.

You'll lose weight, keep it off, stay healthy -- and never need to count a calorie again.