Thursday, March 22, 2012

5 So Called "Health" Foods You Should Avoid

I'm sharing another article, this one is from the Washington Post, because this warning hits too close to home today. Logically, I realize that because of the celiacs disease and because I want to lose weight, too, I need to be eating only from the outside periphery of the grocery store. In other words, as purely and fresh as possible. For the most part, I do but yesterday, after nearly two weeks without diet Dr Peppers, I couldn't stand it any longer. They say that sugar is more addictive than cocaine well Dr Peppers must be close behind. I've had headaches and been exhausted the entire time I was doing without them. True, the small, still sane part of my brain keeps telling me how unhealthy they are but the larger, illogical, gots to have 'em part is larger and usually wins the argument. It isn't just the obvious reasons that I shouldn't consume something so completely artificial and void of nutritional value but also how I always think that I need to be eating even more junk food every time I drink a diet cola. Just because something is labeled gluten free does not mean it is healthy. In fact, the cookies and nutrition bars and other "goodies" are just as much junk food as their gluten filled alternatives if not more so. Sometimes I think that even more fat and sugar is added to gluten free packaged foods just to make them palatable. So, I'm very guilty today of junk food indulgence and delving deeply into the processed, junk food filled center of the grocery store yesterday. My buggy had some good foods in it, vegetables, fruit, pure juice, fish, and lean meat but it also contained, gluten free chocolate chip cookies, gluten free breakfast bars, chips (these are mainly for Steve because they're his obsession but I indulge occasionally, too) and those much loved diet colas. There has to be a way to pump up the logical side of my brain so that it can overpower the illogical side next time I get a craving.

And here is the article...which makes me feel even guiltier about yesterday's binge.


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Eating healthy can be harder than you think, thanks to an enterprising food industry that wants us to consume more than we need. That’s because our country’s agricultural system produces twice what most people require, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service. This encourages creative marketing to unload the excess, much of it with minimal nutritional value. As a nutrition consultant, I know that words such as “low fat,” “high fiber,” “multigrain” and “natural” can fool even the most sophisticated customers into believing what they’re buying is healthful. So what can you do? First, make a habit of reading the ingredients list, not just the Nutrition Facts panel. And remember the following products worth resisting.
Reduced-fat peanut butter (not guilty of this one - like my pb as pure as possible)
The oil is the healthiest part of a nut, containing most of the nutrients, so there’s no advantage to taking it out. In fact, it’s worse because it robs the peanut butter of its health benefits. “Reduced-fat peanut butter has as many calories and more sugar than the regular,” says Bonnie Liebman, nutrition director for the Center for Science in the Public Interest.
Instead: Buy regular peanut butter. Eating one or two ounces of nuts daily is associated with reductions in heart disease and cancer risk. A recent Harvard study showed that eating nuts is associated with lower body weights.
Enhanced water (have indulged in these but have found that I also like my water pure...or with a little fresh squeezed fruit juice added by moi)
Drinks such as Vitaminwater are essentially sugary drinks with a vitamin pill. They are “unequivocally harmful to health,” says Walter Willett, professor of epidemiology and nutrition at Harvard’s School of Public Health. “Whether vitamins dissolved in water have any benefit will depend on who you are and whether you are already getting enough. . . . Some people may be getting too much of some vitamins and minerals if they add vitamin water on top of fortified foods and other supplements.” A recent Iowa Women’s Health Study found an association between certain commonly used vitamin and mineral supplements and increased death rates.
Instead: Drink water, ideally from the tap (“Eau du Potomac,” as it’s known locally). It’s the best drink for hydrating your body, is naturally calorie-free and contains fluoride to prevent tooth decay. No supplement matches the nutrients in whole foods such as fruits, vegetables, nuts and whole grains.
Energy bars (huh oh...one of my many food blunders)
The reputation of these bars, also known as meal replacement bars, is that they are healthy, aid in weight loss or help build muscle. In fact, they are calorie bombs: candy bars with vitamins, protein or fiber added. For most of them, sugar is either the first (predominant) or second ingredient.
Instead: Snack on fruit or veggies for weight loss and yogurt for muscle gain. If you’re hiking a long distance and want a healthful, nonperishable calorie bomb, try nuts and dried fruit.
Multigrain foods (no worry for me anymore but I was cautious about this label before and still make certain to get true whole grain for Steve now)
Multigrain breads, crackers and cereals are often the most confusing foods. People see “multigrain” and think “whole grain.” That’s not necessarily so. This is an important distinction because people who eat whole grains have a lower incidence of diabetes, heart disease and cancers, and are less likely to be overweight compared with those who eat refined grains. Note that when “enriched wheat flour” is listed in the ingredients, that’s refined flour.
Instead: Be sure a whole grain, such as whole wheat, whole oats or brown rice, is the first and preferably the only grain in the ingredient list. A great example is a cereal listing whole rolled oats as the only grain. Alternatively, consider an egg for breakfast. “The huge amounts of refined starch and sugar that many people eat for breakfast, often thinking that this is the healthy choice, does far more damage to their well-being than an egg,” says Harvard’s Willett.
Non-fried chips and crackers (If your great grandparents wouldn't recognize a food, don't eat it....unless it's some exotic fruit or vegetable and then you're allowed....Okay, that rule really makes no sense so just stick with pure and natural. You can get in trouble with that "periphery of the store" rule, too, because that's where my grocery keeps the candy, chips, and pastries....oooh,my!)
It’s easy to believe these foods are healthful because of labels such as “baked,” “low fat” or “gluten free.” But most are made with refined grain or starch, which provide plenty of calories and few nutrients. Popchips, for example, are a new product marketed as healthful. But the ingredients are highly refined potato flakes, starch, oil, salt and about 14 additional things. Pita chips, made with white flour, oil, salt and several more ingredients, are no better. To boot, research shows that too much refined grains and starches increases the risk for heart disease, cancers, diabetes and weight gain.
Instead: Try Wasa or Finn Crisp Original Rye crackers. They’re 100 percent whole grain and have little sodium. If you’d like a chip, try Terra Chips, made with sliced vegetables, or even a 100 percent whole grain chip fried in a healthy oil, such as olive or canola. Tortilla chips and SunChips are two examples. “Now that trans fats have been removed from most cooking oils, the healthiest part of potato chips is the fat,” Willett says. “And chips made of whole grains rather than potatoes, like Frito-Lay’s SunChips, can legitimately be considered a health food,” so long as you keep to the one-ounce serving size.
Tallmadge is a registered dietitian and the author of “Diet Simple” (LifeLine Press, 2011).

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