If you’ve been inside a grocery store lately, chances are you’ve been barraged by labels like, “Made with All Natural Ingredients!” or “Made with Whole Grains!” You’ve seen ice cream claiming to be a great source of calcium or gummy snacks exclaiming in bright colors that they are “Made with REAL Fruit!”
The sad truth is, potato chips that come in earth-toned, papery bags are still potato chips. The FDA considers high-fructose corn syrup to be “natural”, and nutrition labels don’t have to be accurate in order to be compliant with national regulations. We’ve been tricked over and over, and it’s time to put an end to it. Here are a few foods you may have thought were healthy that really aren’t:
- Granola/Energy Bars. While these snacks can be high in protein, they are also loaded with trans fats, artificial sweeteners, and high-fructose corn syrup. Oh, but you get the kind without chocolate chips? Guess what? It doesn’t matter – even the ones without delicious morsels are full of sugar. Instead of getting the packaged, processed versions, you can make healthier alternatives. There are plenty of recipes on line, including this one and this one.
Dave Ensign, the Director of Workers’ Compensation Case Management at ATI Physical Therapy says, “You can’t expect your body to stay healthy when what you put into it is unhealthy.” His wife’s blog, “Good Food and Gratitude” is an excellent source of nutritious recipes.
- Frozen Veggie Burgers. Most frozen veggie burgers don’t contain vegetables at all. Instead, they are made from highly-processed soy or a mysterious-sounding product called “textured vegetable protein”. Seriously, if Dickens had written a dystopian novel, “textured vegetable protein” would be eaten for every meal.
If you need your frozen veggie burger fix, try to find one that’s actually made of vegetables. That’s kind of the point, isn’t it? Prevention.com recommends Hilary’s Eat Well Adzuki Bean Burger.
- Rice Cakes. These flavorless treats were all the rage during the 1980s and 1990s. Even though the low-fat/no-fat craze is over, rice cakes still seem fairly harmless. However, they can have a Glycemic Index (GI) of 91. Keep in mind that the GI uses a scale of 0-100 and foods with higher numbers cause a more rapid rise in blood sugar. They also provide very little nutrition. Instead, try something not only healthier, but tastier, like raw fruits and vegetables.
Healthy eating can be a complicated business. Before your next shopping trip, remember these three rules that will help you navigate through all the lies. First, companies aren’t trying to keep you healthy – they are trying to sell their products. Second, if they have to convince you that their products are healthy, they probably aren’t. Thirdly, and most importantly, instead of agonizing over whether or not the gummy snacks are really, truly made of real fruit…just put down the box and buy some real fruit.