Did you realize that people get paid to deceive us? Hard to believe, but it’s true. Companies pay employees big bucks to come up with fancy packaging, eye catching design, and phrases that mean something other than the truth. It’s been this way for decades. How these people sleep at night knowing they spend each day tricking people is beyond me.
Make a new rule for yourself, if you are going to buy things in a box, read the ingredient list. The box may be pretty, there may be catchy terms promising to lower your cholesterol or help you lose 5 pounds, just read the ingredient list. Even if you don’t know what all the ingredients are yet (sodium nitrate, often found in deli meats is also used in ferilizers!), familiarizing yourself with lists is a start.
Now, on to the trendy diet terms to be aware of. To preface, I’ll start with a cliche: Diets don’t work because they are diets. Are you going to keep eating something you have never eaten once your diet is over? Probably not. It’s a lifestyle change, friends. Slowly, ever so slowly you can change your whole way of thinking about food and cooking.
The truth is, this term means nothing. The FDA does not regulate this term or require any standards for a package to be labeled as “natural”, “all-natural”, or any other form of natural. “Natural” products can contain artificial colors, flavors, and synthetic substances.
Doesn’t sound like anything natural that I know of.
Do not buy something for the simple fact that it’s advertised as “natural”. Oftentimes these products are more expensive because consumers fall into the trap that somehow these “natural” products are healthier. Don’t do it. It is not worth your money.
Low Fat/Fat Free
Most dairy products at the grocery store will be sitting next to their low fat/fat free friends. Two reasons why you shouldn’t reach for the low fat/fat free product: Yogurt, butter, cheese, cottage cheese and all other “dairy products” are made from milk aka cows (or goats). Mammals (including us!) produce milk to fatten up their young. It is supposed to be fattening, ya’ll. If you want to reduce your calories from fat, eat less dairy.
Second, when manufacturers remove the fat from products that are intended to have fat, the flavor is nearly nonexistent. Then why does my fat-free yogurt still taste delicious? That’s because they add large amounts of sugar (often artificial and GMO) and salt to make up for the lack of taste.
So, take your pick: Full fat products with naturally-occurring fat (and calories) OR low fat/fat free products with manufactured, chemically-laden flavors (and calories nonetheless!) from sugar and salt.
Why do we seek out cookies or chocolate granola bars that are “sugar free?” Really, it is something I don’t understand. And sugar free flavored drinks? Candy is candy because it is made of sugar! We like cookies because they are sweet!
The problem with “sugar free” products is that while the “sugar” has been eliminated, the sweet flavor has to come from something else. When solid sugar substances are removed from a product, it is replaced with “sugar alcohols”. These aren’t technically sugar, but almost always they still contain carbs and calories! So, again, why do we eat sugar free products? To avoid carbs and calories? Well, that’s not working.
Along with sugar alcohols, “sugar free” products are often made with “sugar substitutes”, think aspartame here. Aspartame contains ingredients that are neurotoxins, meaning it compromises our health at the neurological level, effecting vision and processes in the brain.
How can you avoid these chemicals? Stop drinking soda. Reduce your sweet intake (that’s tough, I know). By vowing to reduce the amount of sweets you eat, you can decide to make your own. Find out more about alternative sweeteners and check out my recipe page for homemade treat recipes.
“I can’t seem to kick the habit of chips and salsa or mac and cheese (or any other boxed favorite), but at least I’m buying the organic version!” This is definitely a step in the right direction. However, just because something is labeled “organic” does not necessarily mean that it’s good for you. For something to bear the label, at least 95% of the ingredients have to be organic, which is fantastic, but most consumers (myself included) see the stamp and assume that the product is organic, not most of what is in it. Just be aware.
Also, anything can be made organic these days. Cookies, cakes, crackers, chips. Do not gorge on a whole box of cookies because they are organic. I know that seems self-explanatory, but it happens. Organic does not equal calorie free or healthy.
Please do not buy something just because it has the label. You might be not aware, but there is a food revolution happening in the US today. Companies want to seem like they care about your health, unfortunately most do not. More companies are joining the healthy, organic bandwagon. Just don’t let the USDA Organic stamp prevent you from reading the ingredient list, that’s all I’m sayin.