Top 7 Healthy Food Lies You Should Know
Confused about which foods are really healthy? Every day we are so inundated with lies about healthy foods that we have become immune to them. To make matters worse, the government makes it easy for food manufacturers to mislabel food products because there are many loopholes in labeling laws. By the end of this post, you will be able to spot and smell a healthy food lie when you see it.
While many people have the common knowledge that fast food, sweets, and other common junk foods are not good for our health, it is the so-called healthy foods that are difficult to identify. During the short time I spend watching TV, I see so many health claims from the food industry that I decided to create a list of the most common ones and show you how to spot a health food lie.
Now for our list. Pay close attention because I want you to be able to spot these healthy food lies the next time you visit the grocery store.
1. Cereals are healthy
This is a common lie that many people believe to be true. Cheerios is probably the most popular “healthy” cereal due to its strong marketing slogan that it “can lower cholesterol.” Notice how the word “can” made its way to their catchphrase. That means there is a possibility that it can lower cholesterol, but it is not safe. When I researched Cheerios ingredients online, I discovered that most of the ingredients contained “starch” in their name and the third ingredient is sugar. This means that Cheerios is mostly made up of carbohydrates with a little bit of fiber and protein. Don’t get me wrong, if you used to eat bacon and bagels for breakfast or didn’t eat breakfast at all, having Cheerios for breakfast is a relatively healthier option, but it’s not the cereal of choice for optimal health.
If there is a cereal that I would recommend to my clients, it would be Fiber One Cereal but I would only recommend the Original Bran flavor and not the others because it has the highest fiber content and has no calories from sugar. The ingredients of this cereal are made mainly from bran, which is the part of the grains that contains the most fiber, which in turn provides our body with the greatest health benefits.
2. Without sugar
In addition to diet drinks and other calorie-free drinks, most products that are promoted as “sugar free” tend to be high in fat and carbohydrates. You can mostly see “no sugar” claims in candy, salad dressings, and baked goods. For example, Hershey’s introduced a new line of sugar-free chocolate. When you look at the nutrition facts for their specialty unsweetened dark chocolate, you can see that 5 square pieces (one serving) contain 15g of fat with 9g of saturated fat and 23g of carbohydrates. That’s a whopping 140 calories from fat alone. This indicates a red flag in my head, so I would rather have 85% dark chocolate than eat this so-called “special dark chocolate”. It makes me wonder what makes it really special.
3. Fat free
The declaration of the absence of fat in healthy foods is the opposite of the declaration of the absence of sugar. Most fat-free foods are heavily loaded with sugar. This includes fat-free ice cream, fat-free cookies, fat-free cakes, etc. Many people seem to think that eating fat-free foods is the answer to weight loss, but in fact the opposite is true. Eating healthy fats like omega-3 fatty acids can actually help you lose weight.
Another type of food in which the declaration of absence of fat is widely used is in meats such as sausages, ground meat, cold cuts, etc. Take, for example, Oscar Mayer’s fat-free hot dogs. Here are the nutritional facts:
* Serving size: 1 link
* Calories per serving: 39
* Calories from fat: 2
* Percentage of calories from fat: 4.6%
* Total fat: 0.2 g
So how can it contain 0.2g of fat and still be labeled fat-free? The FDA says that as long as a food product has less than 0.5g of fat, it can be labeled fat-free. While 0.2g of fat may not sound like a lot to you, I don’t recall eating just one hot dog at one time. Most people would probably eat 3 hot dogs on average, so the fat definitely accumulates.
4. Meals or snacks for portion control
To the ear of a dieter, 100 calorie packs or snacks are probably music to your ears. You mean I can have a chocolate chip cookie and only have 100 calories? Yay! …. No 🙁 Again, the sugar in these so-called portion control snacks can wreak havoc on your insulin levels, meaning they trigger even more sweet cravings later on. It’s best to spend those calories on a fruit that helps stabilize your blood sugar levels.
Another food in the portion control category is frozen dinners or lunches. This may seem like a good option for “busy” people because it requires less prep time, but what’s hidden inside all these handy packages is A LOT of sodium. To preserve food and add more flavor to frozen meals, manufacturers add an incredible amount of salt that can cause serious health problems like high blood pressure, kidney disease, etc. when consumed regularly.
5. Healthy fats
I am in favor of eating healthy fats, without a doubt. But keep in mind that when you consume healthy fats from olive oil, coconut oil, almonds, walnuts, etc., the fats are still high in calories. Over and over again, I will watch a health food channel and watch the host put a lot, a lot of olive oil in most of his meals. Yes, it is healthy, but if you eat too much, you are still taking in a lot of calories. To give you an idea on the calorie content of healthy fats, here is a list of common sources:
* 1 tablespoon olive oil: 119 calories
* 20 pieces of pecans in halves: 196 calories
* 24 whole almond kernels: 163 calories
* 2 tablespoons of natural peanut butter: 190 calories
* 14 pieces of walnut halves: 185 calories
An important lesson from this: healthy fats are good for you, but enjoy them in moderation.
Ok, you have to read this carefully. Personally, I love getting my organic fruits and vegetables from the farmers market because they are so fresh and locally grown. However, the label “organic” has been misused so many times that it somewhat loses its real meaning. For example, on my trip to the grocery store the other day, I was surprised to find organic fries and organic ice cream. I agree with food being labeled organic, but don’t assume it’s automatically good for you just because it’s labeled organic.
7. Fruit juices and diet sodas
But it’s fruit juice! Let’s keep this in mind: we eat fruits for their fiber and natural sugar content. Fruit juices are nothing more than pasteurized / processed sugar and probably no better than diet sodas. If you want fruit, eat a whole one from the farmers market; you can thank me later and your body too.
Normally, I wouldn’t rant here on my blog. But, there are certain things like these healthy food lies that have been bugging me for a long time. The lesson from the whole post is this: If you’re buying something that’s packaged, boxed, or processed, check the ingredients first and really look at the nutrition information. Typically if a product has fewer than 3 recognizable ingredients (not some weird name you can’t pronounce) you’ll be fine. Otherwise, we will all be better off eating more whole foods and buying them from local farmers. It is a rule that is quite simple and yet many people do not follow it because we are so caught up in the belief that there are magic foods that will solve all of our health and weight loss problems. Great news ==> there isn’t.
While it is okay to eat these types of foods every now and then, don’t buy them in the false belief that they will help you achieve your fat loss goals because you will face a huge disappointment.