Making the commitment to eat healthier can be a tough decision. However, the real tough part comes into play when trying to choose healthy food options. The struggle is real when it comes to choosing healthy foods considering the food industry is flooded with products marketed as “healthy” that would make most nutrition experts cringe.
Here are five foodie trends marketed as “healthy” that could be sabotaging your wellness goals.
1. Low-Fat Foods:
It's understandable why low fat options may seem appealing as you are indeed trying to lose fat. In fact, these low-fat options may be doing just the opposite and actually cause you to gain weight. Many low-fat product options compensate with high amounts of sodium, sugar and excess calories that cancel out any nutritional advantage of being low in fat. Nutrition and Wellness coach, Leanna Capucci, also known as the “Bedrock Babe” also explains, “Fat is not only healthy, but essential and required for weight loss. The most successful diets are actually high fat. The concept that fat is bad is completely misleading. Some fats are bad, yes. We should avoid vegetable oils and seed oils extracted from grains and legumes (soybean, corn, peanut, rapeseed/canola, safflower and sunflower). These are industrialized oils which came to be because they were cheap to produce. These contain the same plant toxins (anti-nutrients, phytates) that grains and legumes do which disrupt our health in many ways, leading to inflammation and overall poor health.”
2. “Healthy” Grains:
While we may see options listed as “wheat” or “made with grains,” there is more to consider as many of these options still contain enriched flours, which have been stripped of their nutritional value and then loaded with artificial ingredients. Some wheat breads even contain twice as much added sugar as white bread. Capucci states, “We know that visceral fat (organ surrounding fat) is linked to these highly processed, highly refined, grain based diets. Glucose is the sugar that cereal grains and starchy foods are broken down into in the body, and too much glucose in the bloodstream can be toxic. Insulin is released to store the excess glucose in the muscles, liver and fat stores, which goes unused as a fuel form and is stored as fat.”
3. Gluten-Free Foods:
Restaurant menus, grocery products, and even church communion wafers are now offering gluten-free options, so this must mean these are healthier alternatives, right? Not necessarily. Capucci explains how these products may be misleading. “Gluten may not seem good for you, but neither is what many of these products replace gluten with. Gluten-free foods often have a ton of added sugar and corn syrup. Fructose, the sugar that is found in fruit as well as all sweeteners and is concentrated in things like HFCS does not get directly used by the body, it is sent from the bloodstream to the liver and converted to glycogen (stored energy), however our liver's capacity for use is the equivalent to just a few pieces of fruit. The rest goes through a slow and more damaging conversion process which leads to fatty liver disease, kidney stones and gout, to name a few.
4. Butter Substitutes:
Fad diets in the spotlight over the past years have been touting that butter is bad. However, nutritionist experts are now leading the movement to create an understanding that it is the butter counterparts, like margarine, that are actually the culprits of sabotaging healthy options. Registered dietician, Janis Falmeister, explains that “unhealthy butter imposters like margarine, shortening and spread contain products that can be detrimental such as trans fats and free radicals which have been lined to: obesity, liver disease, cancer, and diabetes." Falmeister goes on to explain, “Old fashioned butter does contain saturated fat, but when it comes from grass fed cows it is rich in conjugated linoleic acid which helps fight cancer and diabetes but may also promote weight loss.”
5. Sugar Substitutes:
What most people don’t realize is that replacing sugar with sweetener substitutes can actually do more damage, than good. Most are chemically processed and difficult for your body to process. Even some marketed as natural options, like agave nectar, are still highly processed. When choosing a sweetener, look for organic options, and this doesn’t include pure white sugar crystals (also processed). Rather, look for turbinado (non-refined) sugar, coconut syrup, or organic honey which can be used to sweeten foods, and when practiced in moderation, can be much healthier options and easily processed by your body.