Sometimes, food packaging can be misleading claiming to have health benefits when it actually does not.
These days it’s hard to tell what’s healthy and what’s not when you enter a grocery store, especially when you are trying to lose weight and/or maintain a healthy lifestyle. Many food companies are now trying to market their packages to look healthy, to appeal to a consumer. They have even come up with some smart wording such as “all-natural,” “fat-free,” “vegan,” and “no trans fats.” Unfortunately, as a consumer you may think you are doing “good” by buying these foods, but in reality, they can often still be very unhealthy.
Close your eyes. Think of a food that is the symbol for health. An apple or a broccoli stalk may have popped into your head. Consider how they NEVER need any marketing schemes or “healthy” labels on them. The healthiest diet is that of a whole-foods based diet. Buy foods that underwent the least amount of processing possible, many of which don’t even qualify for food labels. These are the foods that should be incorporated into your healthy lifestyle.
Now when you DO buy foods that contain a label, it is important to pay no attention to the front of the package. Your eyes should immediately find their way to the ingredients list. Yes. The ingredients list is even MORE important than the nutrition facts. Why? The ingredients list cannot be marketed to look healthy. It is the most straight forward part of the package.
Stick to an organic peanut butter with simple ingredients for added health benefits.
Take peanut butter, for example. If we look at natural peanut butter, flip it over to the ingredients label-which may read: peanuts and salt.- that’s it. If we take a more processed brand of peanut butter, it may read, peanuts, dextrose, hydrogenated oils (AKA trans fats) and salt. It is your job to AVOID ingredients that you do not recognize, or ones that you KNOW are not healthy! Beyond artificial ingredients, HFCS, and trans fats, learn to eliminate these four empty calorie ingredients out of your diet.
1. Trans fats (hydrogenated oils)- Studies have shown increased trans fat intake leads to high LDL cholesterol and Triglyceride levels. They also impair arterial dilation, which can cause high blood pressure.
2. Omega 6 fatty acid rich oils (corn oil, soybean oil, vegetable oil, peanut oil, sunflower oil, cottonseed oil)- Not only do these increase LDL cholesterol and decrease HDL cholesterol, but too much can lead to an increased inflammatory response in your body.
3. Refined sugars (maltose, dextrose, sucrose, corn syrup, cane sugar)-Refined sugars send an intense insulin response to the body, therefore raising blood sugar quickly, which then tends to drop quickly shortly after. This blood sugar rollercoaster can make you lethargic and even hungrier in the long run!
4. Refined flours (“enriched”)-Many flours are made by stripping the natural plant seed and ridding it of any phytochemicals, antioxidants, or fiber it may have once contained. This processing also makes the body quickly absorb and metabolize flour like it does sugar.
In addition to eliminating these ingredients from your diet, remember to balance your meals. Utilize the plate method at every meal. One quarter protein, one quarter starch, and the other half fruit or vegetables. And remember these rules go for beverages as well! Eliminate any added sugars you get from sodas or juices. Make water your beverage of choice and drink it throughout the day!
Shane Diet Resorts, a fitness retreat for adults ages 18 and up, is a firm believer in whole-foods and portion control. We serve our guests three portion controlled meals daily, as well as two healthy snacks. Visit us online for more information about our weight loss program for adults and great healthy recipe ideas.