Deceptiveness lurks on food labels, ready to draw in the health conscious with claims of being low fat and ‘diet’ friendly. Tucking into an egg white omelette cooked in margarine rather than butter, followed with a diet yogurt and a diet soda, you may complacently believe that a light
healthy lunch is being consumed. Most likely you’ve been deliberately misled by labels and myths.
The Healthiest Foods
The healthiest foods which are beneficial for both dieters and one’s everyday diet don’t actually have labels on at all, as they are fresh. Fruit and vegetables should be the healthy basis of any diet, fresh fish, extra virgin olive oils, potatoes in their skins, and things which generally tend not to have a long list on the other side of the box which screams ‘diet’ in big letters.
Common Food Myths
Similarly myths abound around common foods, and have been perpetuated for years. Fruit juice is healthy as it can be one serving of the recommended daily amount of fruit and vegetables; egg yolks are evil and should be discarded; breakfast cereal is the best way to start the day; margarine is a healthy option to butter; readymade diet meals are good for us even if they leave one hungry. This is all misleading information.
1. Diet Meals: There is a world of difference between a fresh low calorie meal for dieters, and one which comes frozen in a box. They will be invariably laden with sodium and have a long list of chemical additives and preservatives. As a rule of thumb if something on a label sounds nothing like a food you’ve ever heard of, it really doesn’t need to be on your plate.
2. Juices: Despite the claims of those who sell the idea of juiced vegetables being healthier than the vegetable itself, this little gem has no foundation, as juicing a vegetable reduces the fiber level. Commercial fruit juice is most often packed with added sugar. Dried fruit is high in calories when dehydrated. Both fresh fruit and squeezed fruit juices are healthy.
3. Fat free, reduced fat, low fat: most often products labelled like this are packed with sugar instead of fat. Low fat sweetened yogurts with jam (sorry fruit) in them are not a good choice. Instead look for a natural yogurt and add your own fruit. If you opt for Greek yogurt you’ll get double the protein.
4. Diet Sodas: Pointless poison, although it is true they won’t make you as fat as the sugar laden soda or corn fructose syrup ones will. Diet sodas are instead laden with the aspartame which is an artificial sweetener. Add this to the chemical colored carbonated water which comprises diet soda and you’ll feel bloated, and it will make you hungry for more sweet things as the aspartame will set off a chemical craving for more sweetness. You’ll most likely drink a soda and then not fancy a healthy balanced meal.
5. All breakfast cereals are not created equal, and most are sugar laden and chemically enhanced. Check the labels or stick with oat or bran flakes for a healthy cereal choice.
6. Margarine is a healthy substitute for butter or oil. Hardly, as most of it consists of hardened Tran’s fats which are the heart attack about to happen fat to be avoided. Opt for things which have monounsaturated fats in them instead.
7. Granola and energy bars: You may as well give in and just have a bar of regular chocolate, it will taste better and have the same amount of calories more or less. If you opt for dark chocolate it even has antioxidants in it.
The best thing to do is to read the reverse of the labels and see just how many additions which sound dubious something has. If something is fresh it is most likely to be healthy. If it comes with a diet or health claim examine it closely and be suspicious. Manufacturers don’t play fair and hope that nutritional naivety may sell their sugar and chemical laden products.