All of us have realized that we must try and live healthy. We have made the necessary changes in our dietary patterns to lead a healthier life. We switched over to health foods and cereals, energy bars, diet sodas, and frozen low-calorie foods. However, how many of us know if the health food we eat is in fact good for us? When we are shopping for groceries, we pick up food that is low in calories, but do not check if it has low sugar content. Is this low-calorie food then good or bad? Weight gain results more often from saturated sugar concentration, than increased calorie intake. Saturated sugar or fructose cannot be easily broken down and converted to simple sugar or glucose that is required for energy production. Instead, it gets stored in the body and increases insulin insensitivity which in turn is responsible for weight gain. The body requires small quantities of fructose like those present in fruits. So, what are these deceptive foods that we have been eating instead of avoiding?
- Artificial Sweeteners: Artificial sweeteners are the worst food choice you can make. True, artificial sweeteners do not contain actual sugars, and hence cannot add to your weight. Instead, the sweet taste of artificial sweeteners send signals to the brain’s pleasure sensors, but there is a lack in actual sugar. It, thus, induces hunger, and you end up eating more. So, when you are taking more artificial sweeteners in your diet, your body craves more for the actual sugar. Eventually, your body loses control over its ability to control calories and you overeat which leads to weight gain.
- Frozen Yogurt: Frozen yogurt is marketed to weight watchers as the go-to desert since they are ‘low-cal’, and you do not have to worry about putting on weight. What manufacturers do not tell us is that every 20g of frozen yogurt contains around 20g of sugar, which amounts to 30-35 calories. So, a large serving of frozen yogurt would mean around 300 calories and 100g sugar, not counting the sugar in the fruit toppings. Flavoured frozen yogurt contains even more saturated sugars for better taste and increased sales. If you have been avoiding ice-cream because they add to your weight, you should know frozen yogurt is not too far behind.
- Diet Sodas: Neither diet sodas nor energy drinks are good for you. They compensate for liquid sugar for the short term, true, but they also contain artificial sweeteners that induce overeating in the long term. A research at the University of Texas Health Science Centre, in 2011, found that drinking diet soda increased heart risks by 50%. Another study the University of Texas conducted over a decade, found that the waistlines of diet soda drinkers increased by 70% as compared to those who do not drink diet soda.
- High Fibre Cereals: Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and it is about time you took note of what you ate. We believe cereals are a great substitute for quick, easy, fibre and nutrient-rich breakfast. Are they, though? High fibre cereals are undoubtedly rich in fibre, but they do not contain as many nutrients as we would like to believe. It is just fibre and high sugar concentrations that these boxed cereals contain. A high fibre diet is known to prevent heart diseases, but a load of sugar in your diet is sure to increase your blood sugar level, which is very unhealthy.
- Fast Food Salads: When you go to a fast food joint, you think you can skip the load of carbohydrates that is in the bread if you picked the salad instead of the burger. Salads are vegetables, so they should be good for you, and they are. However, it is also what goes on the salad that weighs in. The salad dressing is usually filled with carbohydrates and fats. Readymade Caesar salads have croutons, shaved cheese, fried meat, and crisp noodles as topping, which are very unhealthy. You would think you were watching what you are eating because you only had a salad, but sometimes a salad can pack more calories than a big, meaty burger.
It is true that we are conscious of what we eat, but sometimes even we overlook food nutrition due to marketing gimmicks. So, the next time you go grocery shopping, make sure you check the nutrition chart at the back of every product. It is important not be fooled into thinking you are on a healthy diet because these apparently “healthy food” products eventually have health risks, which can certainly be avoided.
Being a regular practitioner and adviser of everything related to nutrition, fitness, health and wellness, Vineetha also has begun to write and contribute to this knowledge ecosystem on sites like StyleCraze.com, MindBodyGreen.com and LifeHacker.co.in. She strongly believe that the organic food you find in your pantry provide the best benefits for good health. Follow her for ideas and solutions: