When it comes to marketing and selling products, the food companies have never let the facts get in the way of a good story. A lot of the information we find on the front of food packaging is not so much information, as it is a somewhat misleading and deceptive sales pitch.
For example, the reduced- fat peanut butter we find on our supermarket shelves has less fat when we compare it to the regular product, but it is by no means a low-fat product. It’s still a high-fat, high-salt, high-calorie product that should be avoided. It’s still complete crap. Complete crap with slightly less fat than it’s full-fat brother. So instead of having 52 grams of fat per 100 grams, the new reduced-fat option has about 43 grams of fat per 100 grams (and a little extra sugar). Amazingly, some people will actually eat twice as much of the reduced-fat version because it’s healthier. Not.
Too Much of a Good Thing
Even foods which are genuinely healthy can lead to an unhealthy you and me if we consume too much of them. We have an incredible ‘skill’ for putting food in our mouth that our body doesn’t need. Our want over-rides our need and the net result is… obesity.
Here’s a few common food options that trip plenty of people up:
1. Seeds and Nuts. Yep, healthy. Except of course when you’re eating a bucket of cashews before lunch. Nuts are a quality natural food, but they are also very high in fat (good fat) and calories.
2. Fruit Juice. Not all juice is juice. Some fruit juices are in fact fruit ‘drinks’ with as little as five percent fruit juice in them. Read those labels carefully. Apparently it’s great. Interestingly, a glass of fruit juice has about the same amount of sugar and calories as a glass of soft drink (soda). A healthier type of sugar (fructose) of course, but sugar nonetheless.
3. Fruit Smoothies. The term ‘healthy smoothie’ can be an oxymoron with some smoothies (from well-known outlets here in Oz) having as many as 600 calories and 70 grams (14 teaspoons) of sugar. Wanna get fat? Throw down a couple of those bad boys each day.
4. Dried fruit. We take out the water, we leave the sugar and the calories and we’re left with dried fruit. A very energy-dense food. Fresh fruit is a much (much, much) better option. Compare 100 grams of fresh apricot (40 calories) with 100 grams of dried apricot (over 250 calories). Same weight, very different calories. If you’re going to eat dried fruit, do it sparingly.
5. Muffins. Somehow (not sure why), some people consider a muffin to be a healthy snack. Let’s be clear… it’s not healthy; it’s cake. It’s (typically) white flour, sugar, egg and some form of fat. Parents who (constantly) feed their kids muffins are irresponsible and pushing their offspring towards obesity.
6. Salads. Just the word ‘salad’ wreaks of health, vitality and goodness, doesn’t it? If only it were true. Not all, but many salads that you buy when eating out are laced with high-fat dressings and high-sugar sauces. A Caesar salad can easily contain 50-60 grams of fat (the same as two Big Macs).
7. Muesli bars. The majority are high fat, high-sugar, high-calorie crap. Avoid them.
8. Toasted muesli. Like raw muesli but more calories, more fat and not as good for you. Go the raw option.
9. Sports drinks. A.K.A coloured water with sugar. Unless you’re an athlete who needs to replenish your depleted glycogen stores because you’ve just completed a massive training session, drink some water instead.
10. Protein bars. Some are okay but not many. Most are high in preservatives, interesting chemicals, calories and fat. Some are laced with artificial sweeteners and who knows what the long-term consequences of those will be.
11. Cereal. In Australia, the vast majority of supermarket cereals are high-sugar, processed crap. Most of the popular cereals (in terms of sales) live somewhere in the twenty to thirty five percent sugar range. Great for the dentists, not so good for our kids. Or you.
12. Flavoured rice cakes. Some people live on these things. Unfortunately they have about as much nutritional value as eating your toenails. There’s a thought. Very processed and very high in sodium (salt).
13. Low-fat ice-cream. As with many other low-fat products, the lack of fat is usually compensated for with additional sugar. Won’t kill you but keep it to a minimum.
14. Low-fat frozen dinners. Apart from the fact that they’re tiny, expensive and taste like cardboard (in my opinion), they’re also jammed with preservatives and sodium. Apart from that, they’re fantastic.
15. Vegetarian meals. Some people assume that if a meal is vegetarian, it’s automatically healthy. Erroneous assumption. Some vegetarian meals are fantastic. Some are high in fat. Some are healthy. Some are not.
Well-known Cardiologist, Dr. Kota J. Reddy, from the Reddy Wellness Center From the best selling book, Eat This Lose That! explains in his book how eating healthy is as simple as 5 steps: Cut the salt, sugar, starch, trans fats, and caffeine, and you got yourself a healthier you! You will see a huge difference in just days. Begin to read the nutritional information labels on the products you intend to buy. Keep in mind that with many healthy products, we’re buying a concept more than we are a reality