Could “Healthy” Foods Be Sabotaging Your Diet?

October 23, 2017
Healthy eating habits image

Some foods viewed as ‘healthy’ are not as good for you as they seem. It may be a time to rethink the ‘healthy’ go-to foods in your diet

 

A short walk in the grocery store and you are overwhelmed with healthy claims (Healthy eating habits). From low-fat to fat-free to gluten-free, it can be confusing to know which choice to make. In some cases, it may feel easier just to bypass all these claims and just eat less of the “regular” food items. A recent study has found that “healthy” items in the store may have hidden ingredients. Which make you hungry and can, in turn, sabotage your healthy eating plans.

Sugar and Hunger Research

A recent study in the journal Appetite looked at the effects of food labelling and sugar on food intake. A group of college students were given either high sugar. Low-fat or low sugar, high-fat protein shakes that had the same protein and calorie content as well as similar flavour. Both groups were also given potato chips with shake while they were asked to watch a video. The students who had a higher sugar shake consumed more potato chips.

In the second round of the experiment, the shakes were labelled as either “healthy living” or “indulgent” regardless of sugar content. Those who consumed high-sugar “indulgent” labelled shakes consumed less chips than those who drank lower sugar shakes that were labelled either “healthy” or “indulgent.” Furthermore, those who drank a high sugar “healthy” labelled shake ate more potato chips than any of the groups.

This study showed that if a person consumes a food labelled as “healthy” they may feel like they can loosen up on other meals throughout the day. Which can lead to consuming excess calories from unhealthy options. Therefore, it is important for consumers to do their research before choosing foods in a store. When eating out and maintain as healthy eating habits.

All About Nutrition Labels

Nutrition labels are important ways to help you choose foods that fit within your chosen health goals.  However, with so many parts of the nutrition label and ingredient labels that read like scientific journals. It can be hard to know how to read such labels. Here are a few things to focus on when looking for healthy choices or healthy eating habits:

  • Focus on Fiber: Make sure food items you choose are good sources of fibre or around 3 grams of fibre per serving. Keep in mind that your total daily intake of fibre should range from about 25-35 grams a day.

  • Keep Sugar Low: Even if a product claims to be healthy, be sure to look at the sugar content. Stick to items with low or no amounts of added sugar. A new addition to the nutrition label will tell you if the sugars in the product are added or naturally occurring.

  • Aim for Short Ingredient Labels: The first five ingredients are very telling of the major ingredients in a food product. If these first five ingredients are easy to read, then you may be OK. However, if the list contains hard to read scientific names, then you may be looking at a product that is more highly processed. For example, a bread product that is truly whole grain should say “whole grain” or “whole wheat” in the first ingredient.

Stay Healthy On-the-Go

Along with reading nutrition labels, use these tips to help you stick to your healthy lifestyle when shopping or eating out.

  • Keep a running grocery list: Find time to plan meals and snacks for the week, then add items you will need to create these meals and snacks to the list. As you run out of staple items you use frequently to create your healthy meals, add these to the list. Take this list to the grocery store, and only buy what is on the list.

  • Research restaurants nutrition facts before eating out: Visit the website to the restaurant you plan on eating to view nutrition facts ahead of time. Choose healthy options before going to the restaurant so when you are asked to order you don’t make an impulsive unhealthy choice.

  • Try the HowUdish app to help you eat healthier when eating out: With the HowUdish app, you can input health goals such as weight goals and dietary restrictions such as gluten-free, low-fat, or low-carb. Using these goals, HowUdish will help you find restaurants in your local area that serve dishes that meet your nutritional needs.

 

Sources:

Medline Plus (October 18, 2017) “How Foods Labeled ‘Healthy’ Can Still Make You Fat”

https://medlineplus.gov/news/fullstory_169131.html

U.S. Food and Drug Administration (February 10, 2017) “How to Understand and Use the Nutrition Facts Label” https://www.fda.gov/Food/IngredientsPackagingLabeling/LabelingNutrition/ucm274593.htm

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