Good foods should be as unadulterated as possibleScan the shelves of a health food shop and you will find bags of dried fruit that have more sugar added. As if the natural, concentrated sugar within the dried fruit needs adding to. A big bowl of delicious salad or veg can more than quadruple its calorie count from the added dressing. Sometimes with extra salt and sugar too and don’t forget smoothies with more sugar than a can of coke. Not quite so healthy now.
We are being dupedClever manufacturers know that healthy food is a market winner. We are often happy to pay more if we think that a food is good for us. Problem is, unless we look carefully at the small print, we may simply be persuaded to buy when we spot a label that says natural sugars, healthy, organic, whole grain and the like. Yes, it may tick some ‘good’ boxes – but wholegrain muesli bars full of fat and sugar may do us more harm than good. Organic may be good for the environment but doesn’t necessarily mean it’s good for our weight. Natural sugars are sugars like any others with no added nutritional value – simply empty calories. And low-fat, which for years we associated with dieting, may simply mean chock-full of sugar or other agents that improve taste, but add calories.
We may eat more if we feel virtuousHow many of us feel that we were so good in choosing the salad for main that we deserve the dessert after? Or that in resisting the chocolate bar in favour of the fruit flapjack, we are allowed an extra snack later? It is very easy to fool ourselves that we are eating so healthily that we can indulge more as a result. It’s well recognised – diners told that they are eating healthy food tend to consume larger portions than those who are given the same food but without that information.
What’s the answer?First of all, keep eating that good food – the benefits of a healthy diet extend beyond your weight alone. But if the pounds are steadily creeping on take a few steps to ensure your weight stays healthy too.
Be aware and don’t be manipulated. Check labels carefully to ensure those ‘healthy’ foods are all they are cracked up to be.
Remember that healthy calories from nutrient-packed foods are better than calories from processed, junk food…but are calories nonetheless and need to be counted if you are trying to lose weight.
And finally, use a bit of portion caution – it is possible to have too much of a good thing after all!
About the Author
Dr Sally Norton is an NHS weight loss consultant surgeon and founder of www.vavistalife.com