I was walking around my local supermarket yesterday, and I came to a somewhat eye-opening realisation…
If I was relying on only what the marketing and packaging in the grocery store was telling me was ‘healthy’?
I would be far from it.
You see 2017 has brought about a very faux-health conscious revolution.
Netflix is brimming with documentaries telling you to avoid all meat, only eat organic, and that a salted crisp could kill you.
Healthy, or the perception thereof, sells.
Therefore if putting a ‘NON-GMO’ sticker on a chocolate bar increases sales? Well it’s not hard to see how a business might come to the conclusion it’s in their best interests.
But, since marketing campaigns have caught onto the fact the average consumer gets their dietary advice from the very wording they put upon the packaging lining the supermarket aisles, advertising has become more and more misleading.
Is low-fat good now? Or was it the ‘0 Added Sugar’ that’s best? Organic maybe? Or ‘Low In Sodium’?
The truth is, there are so many ‘health labels’ on food, it’s tricky for even the most nutrition savvy individual to keep up with what’s actually going to contribute to their health.
So, assuming you’re one of the people that would quite enjoy improved health, and move down a clothes size or two?
We’ve put together the 4 foods that are most likely to trick you into buying them, so you can see through their deception on your next big shop.
A Quick Note On ‘Good’ And ‘Bad’ Food
Before we delve into the foods you might be purchasing under false pretences, I wanted to make sure we addressed the elephant in the room.
No food is evil- it’s excessive consumption that tends to lead to fat-storage. (Although, that being said, a calorie isn’t always the only factor to consider – Warning: Calorie Deficits Are Not Always The Answer To Weight Loss).
So, take the following ‘sneaky-foods’ with a grain of salt (don’t worry, the sodium won’t hurt 😉 ) – if you’re choosing them for a treat, or knowing they aren’t going to be 100% the best food choice to reach your goal- have at it.
What we want to stop from happening however, is for you to reach for a piece of food on the regular, thinking it’s healthy, when in fact it’s pushing you further away from your goals.
We aren’t telling you to never eat these foods- balance is key; we’re simply advising they aren’t as great for you as the advertising would suggest.
This was one my mum fell for back in my packed lunch days.
She refused to give me a Mars bar (trust me, I asked), but instead opted for a granola bar dripping in added sugar and syrup instead.
I suppose it could be argued it was slightly better for me, but still, nowhere near as much as my mum would have hoped.
Here’s the thing- there are two types of cereal bars- the ‘Rice Krispie’ treat type bars, that actually do nothing to imply they’re healthy- we’ve no qualms with their honesty…
And the ‘healthy cereal bar’.
The issue with these ‘health bars’, is usually added sugar, in the form of actual sugars, honey, or syrups, causes them to do little to satisfy hunger (they’ll often trigger more within 20 minutes).
There are a few bars that are 100% nuts, somehow held together without the aid of artificial additives or syrups- whilst these are better from a ‘eat real food’ perspective, they also allow for the consumer to easily overeat calories- as the bar will be high in fat, which is very energy dense.
Are the latter, sugar-free, natural cereal bars the worst thing in the world? No. Would you be better off by eating a handful of walnuts of almonds instead of a man-made jumble of ingredients however? Certainly.
“But It’s got real fruit!”
Yes, there is some merit to that- fruit is awesome.
But, when you take away the skin and flesh of a fruit, and leave yourself with only the juice of 2-5 of them?
That’s when things go from healthy to fattening real quick.
You see fruit contains sugar (in the form of fructose), but it also contains fibre, which helps blunt the insulin spike, and curbs hunger cravings after consumption.
If you only consume the fructose-containing juice with no fibre? Your blood sugar will spike, and you’ll be craving food (most likely, sweet food) within hours of finishing your refreshing beverage.
Will a glass of OJ with breakfast kill you? Of course not.
However if you’re sipping on litres at a time and wondering why you can’t lose weight, this might be the first thing to address.
Eating real fruit is always preferable.
‘Organic’ baked goods
‘Organic’ has become a magical word that manufacturers will put on produce, to see an increase in sales to overly enthusiastic hipsters.
Now I’m not suggesting organic foods are without merit- far from it.
However the purpose of this blog is to aid your weight loss, and slabs of organic chocolate or brownies? That’s not going to help I’m afraid.
Simply because the cake you’ve just brought is sweetened with honey, made with pure cacao, and contains no added sugar, doesn’t mean it’s going to help contribute to a slim waistline.
As a treat? It’s fantastic.
Everyday as a ‘health food’? Washing it down with fruit juice? Don’t let the marketing fool you- it may be organic, but the sharp rise in blood sugar and lack of fibre/protein will result in a sub-par fullness factor and minimal nutritional benefits.
If you are choosing to bake at home? Then yes, picking natural ingredients will help boost the nutritional value of the end product (my mum makes some great sweet potato brownies)- But remember they’re still to be had in moderation if fat-loss is your goal.
Coconut Oil & Butter Coffee
This is a controversial one- although if this is your first time hearing about such a drink, you’re probably screwing your nose up in confusion right now.
This is commonly referred to as a ‘bulletproof coffee’; and it involves blending coconut oil and grass-fed butter into your normal brew.
And it’s actually not without merit (but also not without downsides, which we’ll get to).
The logic is that the fats you’re blending in will help curb your appetite (which it will).
A single cup contains, on average, around 400 calories.
If you’re having this instead of a meal- it’s not an excessive amount- But, it’s devoid of any protein or real micronutrient benefits.
And if you’re having it alongside a meal? Well it’s 400 extra calories, when a normal black coffee comes in at exactly zero.
The claims are this concoction helps boost cognitive function, and the Lauric Acid it contains will reduce hunger cravings.
But, if had instead of a balanced meal with protein, fibre and micronutrients? It comes up short. And if had alongside such a meal? It might be calorific push you don’t need, that halts your fat loss aspirations.
Food isn’t evil- the corporations labeling everything as ‘healthy’ may be leaning that way, but once you have an understanding that a food label will tell you whatever you want to hear to get into your shopping trolley, it’s a lot easier to navigate the weekly shop.
The best thing you can do?
Stick to the outskirts of the store- the fruits, vegetables, beans and meats. Avoid the processed foods, the foods that never mould or expire, and all the fizzy drinks and fruit juices.
For 80-90% of your shop anyway.
Because we’re human- and if once a week you want that ‘Organic Brownie’? Go nuts. If you want a small glass of orange juice with you scrambled eggs and spinach in the morning? Feel free…
We aren’t trying to turn you into healthy eating robots- as humans we have an emotional connection to the food we eat- finding the balance between health and enjoyment is key.
But at least now you can identify the sneaky foods that pretend the be healthy, but actually fall into the ‘enjoy on occasion’ category.
Getting your head around what to eat, when to eat, how much to eat and when it’s OK to have treats (and what kind) (as discussed in this article) can be very confusing.
Tailored nutritional advice is part of all our programmes here at Luke Bremner Fitness so you can enjoy treats with confidence to support your weight loss or health boosting goals.
To find our more about our nutrition coaching, programmes and how we can help you achieve your goals, you can book in for your complimentary consultation.