Whether you are taking selfies on the supermarket aisle or reading labels on products because you really are into taking care of what your husband or wife serves in the dinner tonight, you should be aware of the fact that not all those products which names suggest being healthy or diet foods are indeed good for your healthy living goals.
Low Fat or Low Sugar Half Truths
Some of these articles are labeled as “light”, “X% less sugar” or “reduced fat”, but even a 50% lower from a stratospheric high fat content is still a whooping lot, let’s take as an example normal margarine, where only 100 grams (about half a cup) contain more than 80% fat, of course you know that and proceed to better take the “light” option, well even an average light presentation of margarine is still 35% fat! Yes that lot, I know, I know I also turned horrorized to my side to see my half empty bottle which I was eating with a spoon and decided to throw it away!
No seriously, like the happy selfie-taking couple above one should be reading the nutritional facts of such advertised products, now here is another spooky issue, with the arrival of the “low-fat” foods (because saturated fat it is bad for our arteries and hearts experts say) producers started replacing the animal fat with un-saturated vegetable oils, of course the process to convert that oil into something more usable for producers was to hydrogenate it and make it a sort of solid, now in order to achieve a similar texture and flavor for finished consumable goods producers also needed to add extra amounts of sugar, so in the end an advertised “low-fat” food may indeed have more calorie count per ounce and full of carbohydrates than a normal fat one, not that weight-loss friendly if you ask, however this doesn’t mean the whole concept of low-fat is wrong but you should focus on the nutritional facts and not the advertised “advantages”.
Natural Origin Doesn’t Equal Healthy
There are other problems with products that are advertised as being of natural origin, like “100% juice” for example, and probably yes they are, but some of them are added with a ton of sugar and just because it reads as being of natural origin it doesn’t mean it hasn’t been added with carbs and other ingredients, you can make your own fresh juice for real natural benefits of course, I’ve seen products like those canned vegetables juices where they are added an amazing amount of 6 teaspoons of sugar for every cup! (8 ounces), now it’s the time to start feeling guilty and re-read the groceries list right? If you are not surprised yet go do an exercise I did: get to the kitchen and grab the sugar bottle and a teaspoon, take 6 of them in a napkin and watch it in horror for a minute, works best if you put a terrified face, then let that image sink in for a moment.
Another clear example of this is the yogurt, those where there’s a thin fit lady printed on the bottle or in the promos, advertised as more than 90% fat-free!, you know where we are going, yes some of those might be fat reduced but also contain a staggering 40 grams of sugar per cup, amazing… 10 teaspoons of sugar in exchange of almost no fat, hey but what a deal! Not so sure, it makes me wonder why not better use an alternative, plain yogurt from skim milk (add natural fruit if wanted), it more often than not has only HALF the sugar of he advertised product and is very low-fat.
Of course not all sugar or fat in our food is a bad thing, whether being natural or added in the process since it is basic fuel for our bodies, providing calories and why not, sweetness to accomplish the everyday work we got to do in our lives, ever tried to drink lemonade without a sweetener? yeah not a good business idea for the kids in the block either, what we are talking about here is the quantity and quality, and that’s what the nutrition facts labels on our products we purchase are for, read them and take consciousness, oh and for those thinking “well I’ll just add honey so it keeps natural” just remember honey is also another form of refined sugar so read its nutritional facts too.
Do Sugar Substitutes Really Help to Lose Weight?
Interestingly enough there appears to be no clear evidence that the use of this substitutes as a practice in general effectively helps to lose weight, but why is that? Seemingly, using them regularly can lead your body to crave real sugar-sweetened foods later on, yes we are sometimes weak and more often than not you’ll see me on the donuts aisle having surrendered all hope and bathing myself in refined sugar, no seriously, there seems to be a mechanism in our bodies that is only satisfied by the intake of less processed sweeteners, so experts advice us to still keep using a small amount of sugar if you have decided to use the substitutes, to help your body keep its normal functions and lessen those cravings without sabotaging your diet.
There has also been some myths surrounding the use of artificial sweeteners, as they were originally thought to be carcinogens, however studies haven’t been conclusive about this, neither the real long-term side effects of using them is truly known, seems that the decision to use them will be up to us, experts recommend the use of natural substitutes like Stevia instead of the more artificially fabricated options, yet again, nothing wrong going for the all natural way and simply using sugar, that way you’ll be less tempted to overeat light or sugar-free foods in the believe that those can’t be all that bad right? they are sugar-free! Try not to fall in that trap.
In summary here is a list of considerations I’d like to follow:
- Opt for the foods of natural origin over the processed ones.
- Consume lower fat products watching the amount of added sugar or carbohydrates.
- A little bit of natural fat is not bad for your health.
- Chose natural sugar substitutes over highly processed ones.
- Eating low carbs food shouldn’t incentivize the ingest of larger quantities of food.
- Read the nutritional facts of food packages, even for the “diet” or “light” products.
So now you know it and you are prepared, it will be harder for merchandisers to trick you into buying their masterfully disguised but not-so-healthy product because you are now an informed consumer, well I must admit not all those products are bad of course, just read the facts and you’re good to go. Remember to visit your health specialist or nutritionist for any doubt, guidance and consulting before making any changes in your diet, they can serve you and better suit to your needs.