Friday, April 12, 2013

Drop that BLANK: The Truth Behind What You're Eating

the truth (2)There is an alarming amount of information out on the web about what NOT to eat. After some careful reading, six food options made it to the list.


The smoothie craze has almost topped that of the frozen yogurt phenomena. Even though fruit is typically the number one ingredient and beneficial in our daily diets, this is definitely a food option to be knowledgeable about. In commercial versions of this blended drink, refined sugar often takes the place of the natural sweetener from fresh fruit. Wait for it… Many commercially bought smoothies have as much sugar as a can of Cola or a cupcake.

It doesn’t stop there, unfortunately. Most commercial smoothie companies, like Smoothie King, provide “boosters” on their menus to add to their smoothies. What they do not tell you is that the supplements used to give smoothies a “boost” are typically modified and contain chemical fillers. As a general rule of thumb, if you can’t find it in nature, it’s probably better to avoid it.  To avoid these gimmicks, it is best to make your smoothies at home with a tablespoon of real sugar, a dash of honey, or even Stevia.


Sauces and condiments add nice flavor to foods that might need an extra kick but the downside is that a lot of times adding this “kick of flavor” means adding a shocking amount of calories, fat and sodium. Don’t let the components in things like ketchup fool you into thinking it is a healthy conscious option. To give yourself a better mental image, imagine a bottle of ketchup filled ¼ of the way with just sugar.

Eating at restaurants poses a pretty big problem when it comes to sauces too. For example, the grilled shrimp with garlic-butter sauce at the Olive Garden may not seem too terrible in hind sight. Although, the garlic-butter sauce in this dish helps rack up nearly two-thirds of your daily fat and about one and a half times your sodium limit for a day. One plate: 900 calories, 41g fat, 3,490mg sodium ( Well, maybe hind-sight is 20-20 after all. If you think that is bad; spoon a little honey-barbecue sauce on your grilled chicken breast and you might as well have deep-fried it with some parmesan and bread crumbs!


For an ingredient whose name is pretty much synonymous with healthy, it is hard to decipher if it is in fact a healthy food option or not. Granola is a tricky little bugger. This delicious cereal that pairs well with things like yogurt and molds perfectly into a bar form, actually contains a startling amount of sugar per serving. One serving of the popular low-fat Quaker brand contains 18 grams of sugar, as much as a Twinkie to be exact (

For granola lovers, this is a sad realization; primarily because many other competitors aren’t much better as far as high sugar content. One brand that offers the same flavor, but half the sugar content, though, is ‘Nature’s Hand’. Be sure to always study the nutrition facts, and not just the calorie content.

Frozen Diet Meals

A frozen diet meal may seem like the perfect fix for a health conscious eater with no time to cook, but the real proof is in the puddin’, my friends.  More often than not, frozen diet meals don’t fill you up with nutritious vitamins and minerals. Meals like Healthy Choice simply fill you with sodium, sugar, and plenty of carbs. The biggest misconception is that people assume because they are only “300 –calories” they fit the perfect healthy, diet mold. The calories are definitely reasonable, but many of them pack as much as 500 mg of sodium in one serving. It’s important to provide your body with plenty of fruits and vegetables, yes, but not carbs on top of sodium on top of carbs.


Sandwiches aren’t necessarily thought of when thinking about health conscious food options, although many a dieter loves a turkey or chicken sandwich once in a while (who doesn’t?). Take a step back and rethink tomorrow’s low-calorie turkey sandwich though. All deli meats for the most part are of poor quality. They are packed with sodium, nitrates, and made from animals raised on hormones. It doesn’t stop there; they may also contain chemical flavoring and dyes to top it all off. There is a way around this, though. When packing your next lunchbox, opt for fresher meats like REAL roast turkey or chicken from the deli. Ask your deli counter to give you the scoop on the freshest and healthiest of the bunch. (add a line about hummus and veggies for less meat)

Last but certainly not least on our list of what NOT to eat is margarine, which unlike butter, is made from vegetable oil. Many dieters (primarily vegetarians) stray from butter because it is made from animal products but there is a whole other story behind margarine’s makeup.  The butter-substitutes’ manufacturing process fills the tub with trans fat, which increases inflammation by damaging the cells lining your blood vessels, upping your risk for cardiovascular disease, cancer, degenerative diseases, weight gain, and bad cholesterol ( Butter is sounding like a better choice between the two, huh?

In a consumer world where things aren’t always what they seem, it is more important than ever to be a smart shopper. Whether you are in it to lose weight or maintain a healthy lifestyle, it is imperative to know what really lies within the confines of processed food ingredients and the effects they have on our bodies. It is no coincidence that many articles on the web tell you to cook at home, buy less processed foods, and be picky about where your food comes from. When you hear “healthy”, “low-calorie”, “organic”, and the like, make sure you find proof in that puddin’ and keep all things in moderation.

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