Motherhood & Beyond

The Spunky Mom

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Are you Fooled by the so-called 'Healthy' Food?

Do you know that most of the healthy food claimed by the companies are not actually healthy? Surprised? Yes, we rely heavily on the way is packaged and however savvy we think we are, we do tend to fall into the trap of these marketing gimmicks of healthy packaged food. Images or claims like diet food, diet chips, energy drinks, etc. make the products quite lucrative but are they all healthy is the question which arises.

So, read on as I dispel myths about deceptive food and try to give you some wholesome alternatives in place.

1. Fruit Juice and Smoothies:

Fruit juices are healthy right? NO! Although they are perceived to be healthy, they are loaded with high fructose corn syrup than actual juice. High fructose corn syrup (HFCS) increases the cholesterol levels, blood clots, and impaired immunity. HFCS is converted into glucose when consumed and spikes the sugar levels in the blood just like normal sugar raising chances of diabetes. However, HFCS has other demerits - research has proved that high fructose corn syrup is directly linked to obesity in adults and children and it also increases triglycerides (fats) in the blood, which in turn can raise the risk of cardiovascular problems like heart disease and stroke. The American Association for the study of Liver Diseases has found out high intake of sugar (specifically fructose) can also lead to liver disease. Alternative: Anything to do with fruits has long enjoyed the status of being healthy but please be aware that phrases like “100% pure” or “freshly squeezed” just claim to make the product more lucrative for health conscious.

The easier alternative is to eat fresh fruits than consuming fruit juices. This way you will get the adequate antioxidants, fiber, vitamin and minerals that lack in the fruit juices. However, there is no harm in consuming a fresh fruit juice once in a while but one should avoid canned fruit juices completely as they are nothing but loaded with sugars and empty calories.

2. Whole Grains and Multigrain:

Do we know what is multigrain and whole grains? Most of us think these terms mean the same. However, multigrain and whole grain is not interchangeable terms. While whole grains are good for your health multigrain products are slimy ones. There is no standard regulation to define what ingredients go into ‘multigrain’ products. Therefore, it is quite possible that it can be added to any food item containing more than one cereal grain and can be still processed or refined and be unhealthy! The healthy alternative - When shopping for healthy bread look for words like whole grain or 100% whole-wheat. If you see 'whole multigrain’ you are sorted else, you need to take a closer look at the label to figure out the healthy options.

3. Healthy Cereal:

Breakfast cereal seems like a convenient and healthy meal, right? But have we thought for a minute that these cereals are made of processed grain. These grains are usually processed into fine flour and then mixed with chocolate, sugar, and water before getting cooked.

So you can imagine how much sugar is loaded in a bowl of cereal and we all know that excess consumption of sugar leads to various health and lifestyle diseases like diabetes. Most of the time cereals are marketed towards children, and colorful, chocolaty taste with their favorite cartoon characters on the carton attracts the children towards them. Parents are then lured to give these to the kids as they are supposedly healthy and this is something that their kids love.

My suggestion Is not to avoid cereals completely but then limit the portions. Choose the cereals that are low in sugar and high on fibers and also try to add nuts, dates, yogurt in the cereals so that there is less of processed cereals and more of natural food in the plate and it is healthy. Needless to say that the better solution would be to choose whole food like eggs, oats as they keep you full for a longer period and are nutritious and filling.

4) Protein Bars

Ok, this can come as a shocker! Not all protein bars are bad, and they do have a place in our lives but please do your due diligence in reading the labels when buying the bars. Of course, its healthier for people having the sweet tooth to consume a protein bar than indulging in a doughnut. Protein bars are easily quite convenient and can be sometimes used as a meal replacement but do exercise caution when choosing protein bars.

The ingredients should mostly contain whole food like nuts, seeds, whole grains, and fruits. Please avoid bars that have ingredients which indicate highly processed food. The best of protein bars should have 7 gms of protein and at least three gms of fiber and less sugar from real food and no added sugar like honey or syrup.

Instead of protein bars, my suggestion is to go for soaked almonds and nuts which are easy, delicious and can be munched anywhere and anytime. 5. Fast-food Salads:

You went to that nearby joint near your office for lunch, and you ordered a salad and you are proud of yourself for eating healthy. Right? Most fast-food chains have jumped on the health bandwagon and are now have started offering salads, wraps and other healthy menu choices for nutrition-minded customers but here is the twist in the tale - all salads are not inherently healthy! There are a lot of sneaky ingredients that are stealthily put in the salads that make them “unhealthy healthy.”

Watch out for those yummy dressings as they are usually the culprits laden with sugar and preservatives and unhealthy ingredients. So what do we do then? It is always better is to make your own salad with a lot of veggies, some protein, cheese, little olive oil and balsamic vinegar, mustard, salt, pepper. If there is no option for making your own salad then read the ingredients carefully when ordering a salad. Look out for hidden ingredients that may have sugar like dried fruits, fried food like crispy nuts, tortilla chips, processed food like noodles.

Most of the salads also have croutons which should be taken out immediately as they are just empty carbs. At 60 calories per dozen, it is better to eat whole-wheat bread than eating croutons. Many croutons can also contain high levels of sodium so avoid croutons at any cost!

Last but not the least always watch out the portions when you eat a salad. Some salads have a huge portion so even if its healthy take a small portion. Salads can be quite tricky and therefore it is better to be armed with knowledge when ordering a salad.

Do you also fall into the trap of deceptive food? Hope you liked this article and if you have any suggestions, please feel free to reach out to me.

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