Word Count: 950 NF Difficulty: Beginner
Everybody is convinced that the fat in your food is the cause for our nation’s obesity issue. WRONG. You know who the real culprit is? Sugar and simple carbohydrates.
Whenever you fill your body with more fuel than it actually needs, which is easy when eating food with a high sugar content, your liver’s sugar storage capacity is exceeded. That extra energy is converted into fatty acids, hops back into the blood stream, and then gets stored as fat in various places on your body. Secondly, anytime you eat simple carbohydrates that are loaded with sugar (white bread, fruit juice, white rice, bagels, soda, pretzels, cookies, crackers, ice cream, candy, etc.), the insulin levels in your body are spiked to help fill up your muscles with energy and stored glucose. The extra sugar not used by your muscles or stored in them becomes fat. To make matters worse, this whole process causes your body’s blood sugar to drop below normal levels which causes an increased appetite and you’ll need to eat again. Not cool.
Now that 2/3rds of the country is overweight, everybody is trying to “eat better.” If you’re a food company trying to sell more food, you’ll find a way to rework your products so they just APPEAR healthier. Your customers will then buy your product because of buzz words like “no sugar added” and “low fat,” “reduced fat,” and “healthy choice.” These terms are all relative, and more often than not the low-fat options aren’t much better than the regular options.
Let’s talk about a low-fat microwave meal that you find in your local Kroger, Stop & Shop, Ralph’s, etc. It says “healthy choice,” it’s called “lean cuisine,” and the box says “low fat!” it has to be good for you, right? Unfortunately, in order to make these things still taste good, they remove most of the fat (a lot of which can be good fat) and instead replace it with sugar, salt, bulking agents, flavor enhancers, and artificial flavors by the bucket-full.
Let’s take a look at an example: Lean Cuisine’s Orange Chicken: only 300 calories and 7 grams of fat, but it has 11 grams of sugar included in its 46 grams of simple carbohydrates. Not a terrible meal, but not very healthy considering you’re paying for ‘healthy choice.’ This ‘meal’ wouldn’t qualify as a snack for most people due to its size, but
Here’s a list of all the ingredients in this teeny tiny little meal that won’t fill you up: Blanched Enriched Long Grain Rice (Rice, Ferric Phosphate, Niacin, Thiamin Mononitrate, Folic Acid), Water, Cooked Breaded White Chicken Meat, Ground And Formed (Chicken Breast With Rib Meat, Water, Isolated Soy Protein (With Less Than 2% Soy Lecithin), Modified Food Starch, Sodium Phosphates, Chicken Broth Powder (Chicken Broth, Salt, Flavorings), Potassium Chloride, Salt, Garlic Powder, Battered With: Water, Modified Wheat Starch, Bleached Wheat Flour, Yellow Corn Flour, Rice Flour, Dextrose, Leavening (Sodium Bicarbonate, Sodium Acid Pyrophosphate, Sodium Aluminum Phosphate), Egg Whites, Salt, Modified Cellulose, Predusted With : Modified Wheat Starch, Bleached Wheat Flour, Soybean Oil, Sugar, Yeast, Salt, Breading Set In Vegetable Oil), Orange Juice Concentrate, Red Peppers, Yellow Carrots, Edamame Soybeans, Sugar, 2% Or Less Of Soy Sauce (Water, Wheat, Soybeans, Salt), Modified Cornstarch, Chile Garlic Sauce (Chile Pepper (Chiles, Salt), Garlic, Water, Sugar, Rice Vinegar, Modified Cornstarch, Acetic Acid), Almonds, White Vinegar, Honey, Brown Sugar Syrup, Dehydrated Soy Sauce (Soybeans, Salt, Wheat), Sesame Oil, Garlic Puree, Ginger Puree (Ginger, Water, Citric Acid), Orange Peel, Potassium Chloride, Dehydrated Red Peppers, Spices, Caramel Color.
GOOD LORD. It’s chicken, rice, and a few vegetables! When the list of ingredients is that long for a 300 calorie meal, it can’t be that good for you. Why not have two grilled chicken tenderloins, a big salad, and some fruit for the same number of calories?
How about “reduced fat” Oreos? Surely they have to be better for you, right? Well, one serving of reduced fat Oreos is only 10 calories less than normal Oreos, has the same amount of sugar, and has 2 MORE grams of carbohydrates. If Nabisco is trying to pull one over on you with this marketing hype crap, think of how many other companies are too. Read your labels!
Be smart. Eat natural when you can, and try to keep your simple carbs and sugar intake to a minimum if you want to lose weight. Don’t buy into the hype from all of these ‘healthy food’ options. Compare all of the options to find the healthiest (or least terrible), because they’re certainly not created equal. Keep an eye on these important things:
- Calories – obviously you want to keep calories down if you’re trying to lose weight, but not all calories are created equal. 100 calories of grilled chicken isn’t the same thing as 100 calories of peanut M&Ms.
- Fat Content – not all fat is created equal either. You want to keep the bad kinds of fat to a minimum (trans fat is the worst), but other types of fat (monounsaturated fats, for example) are actually good for you.
- Carbohydrates – Not surprisingly not all carbs are created equal either. Complex carbs (that you get from vegetables and quality grains) are far better for you than simple carbs (which I listed above). Carbs that you get from natural sources can provide you with energy all day rather than in short bursts.
- Sugar content – All of that processed sugar in your meals quickly turns to fat in your system. Its this stuff that’s making you fat, so get rid of it.
Stick with the natural stuff. Bring your own lunch if you can, and eat things where you can pronounce all of the ingredients. If you have no choice (which is impossible if you’re willing to plan ahead and put in 10 minutes of work) but to eat these pre-packaged dinners…choose wisely.