Healthy -- an ambiguous word that is commonly thrown around to describe foods that are considered ‘good’ for you. Well, what if ‘healthy’ food isn’t really healthy at all… Major food companies tell us what we want to hear: low-fat, no-sugar, 100% juice, high protein, zero calorie, gluten-free, etc… Sounds too good to be true, right? Because it is. Understanding what healthy is and what healthy means is highly important to decipher exactly what you’re eating. And that’s where dietitians come into play. They know food better than anyone else, and when it comes to eating, they know what healthy actually looks like. Here is a list of some foods, known to be ‘healthy’ in the public eye, that dietitians don’t eat:
‘Gluten-free’ has erupted in the United States with the rise of Celiac disease and gluten sensitivity. With that, gluten-free has become synonymous with healthy, which is in fact untrue. Like most foods, if you take something out you need to replace it with something else to still make it palatable. Eliminating gluten from breads, pasta, cereal, baked goods, etc. is replaced with sugar and oils high in fat. It is important to read the nutrition label of gluten-free foods to determine if it’s the best alternative before purchasing.
Low-fat; no-sugar; zero calorie
Major food companies know better than anyone else on how to successfully market food. With the rise of health conscious Americans, food companies selling nutrient dense and high calorie products needed a new way to make their food products more attractive to sell. ‘Low-fat’, ‘no-sugar’, ‘zero calorie’ are the grab-bag of terms that are placed on the front of packages to market foods today. When something is taken out of a food product like fat for instance, sugar is replaced. The product may be low in fat, but now it tripled in sugar content. Always always look at the nutrition label before buying food. Be a smart shopper and don’t get fooled by food marketing.
It’s hard to believe for most people, but juice isn’t as good as it seems…Popular brands of apple juice, orange juice, grape juice, cranberry juice, etc. are strikingly high in sugar content. This concentrated sugar is not good in high consumption and can cause cavities and weight gain over time.
Energy and high protein bars were created for athletes to give them a boost of calories during a high intensity workout. Individuals of all energy levels are purchasing these bars as a snack food, giving them a high dose of sugar and calories. Energy bars are the equivalent to candy. The high carbohydrates in the bars are to be easily absorbed by athletes who need calories during high physical activity. When looking for a granola bar to snack on, look for the brands with lower calories, sugar, and fat.
Americans consume diet sodas in staggering amounts. What they fail to believe is that diet sodas and diet drinks are doing them more harm then good. Diet sodas contain no nutritional value, which means you are not drinking any calories. What your drinking, is a drink loaded in artificial sweeteners. Artificial sweeteners, like aspartame, have more intense flavors than natural sugar and may have a negative effect on your health.
Erika Siracusa, Student Intern