Friday, October 19, 2012
Don't Be Fooled by "Reduced, Low, or Free" Junk Foods!
Manufacturers have learned how to label junk food so that consumers think that they are "healthy" (or at least healthier) food items. However, reduced calories just means that a food has at least 25% fewer calories than the original. So, with "reduced fat" hot dogs, they can still have 12 grams of unhealthy fat (highly saturated, processed, etc.), but just be lower than the original that has 16 grams. Low-fat doesn't mean fewer calories, and oftentimes, low fat or fat free products contain close to the same amount of calories as the original because sugar has been added to replace the fat. With sugar-free products, they add fat and artificial ingredients to replace the sugar. Finally, "trans fat free" doesn't mean that the product is fat-free. Furthermore, it doesn't mean that the product has no trans fat. It simply means the product has <0.5 g/serving, so a 1 tbsp of flavored coffee creamer may have 0.4 g/tbsp (from the partially hydrogenated oils), but it can legally be labeled trans fat free. So, if you consume 5 tbsp of this stuff a day, you are above the recommended <2 gram limit for trans fat.
My recommendation: Stick to foods that you know are naturally healthy (fruit, vegetables, whole-grains, nuts, etc.), and if you must indulge, take a little bite of a treat and don't overdo it. It’s all about portion size. It's better to taste a little of something really good, rather than eating a lot of something that tastes "okay" and is full of calories and artificial additives. You'll end up eating fewer calories in the end if you eat one fresh baked chocolate chip cookie as opposed to several sugar free or low fat cookies.