Sugar Matters
February 17, 2015
Foods that fool

Here is a recent question I was asked that I found very interesting: “What are common foods thought to be ‘healthy,’ but are not as good as you think they are?”

Hoo haa! There are a bunch of those! For the sake of keeping things short, I’ll pick my favourites for us to discuss here:

Offender #1: the “low calorie” or “low fat” foods. The food industry was very clever with this group of foods, but finally the smart consumer is starting to catch on to the issues here.{{more}} Yes, it is true that these foods are lower calorie, lower fat or lower sugar, as compared to the “regular” versions. HOWEVER, the trap many people fall into is in regard to the portion sizes and the general issue of feeling full.

In regard to the portion sizes: this is the amount that you as one adult should have as one serving. When you start reading food labels, you may be surprised at what is considered “1 serving.” Very often, even small packages of foods contain two servings instead of one, so when you decide to eat the whole packet, thinking it contains 180 calories and 20 grams of fat (which is too much by the way), it in reality contains 360 calories and 40 grams of fat, since it was meant for two people. Yikes!

The second, even sneakier issue, is that of satiety, feeling satisfied after eating. Some research showed that people who regularly eat “low fat” and “low calorie” foods are MORE likely to gain weight. WHY? One major issue is that our bodies are programmed to need a certain amount of fat to feel “satisfied” and ”full.” Because these low-fat foods have less, you take longer to feel full and instead keep eating and eating. In the end, you have eaten MORE of the low fat foods than you would of a normal-fat food. Watch out for those low-fat and low-calorie foods. They have their place, but do not let them fool you into being careless.

Offender #2: Fruit juices. Oh my goodness, how I would love to have some of these banned from the supermarket! Now, I am not talking about fruit juice that is truly from one fruit, fresh squeezed or pasteurized orange juice. I am talking about blended juices, with fun names like “orange-mango punch” and “pineapple passion drink.” When you check the labels of these drinks you will often see they contain no more than 20 per cent actual juice. The rest is water, which is okay, with lots of sugar and syrup, which are not okay. These drinks have little nutrition, but a lot of calories through the sugar they heap into your diet.

Offender #3: sports drinks. You know the kind: they always have pictures of athletes or children playing on the front label, and they talk about “improving performance” and “keeping glucose levels stable.” Most of these drinks are watered down sugary drinks, with a few extra salts. They are fine for rehydration on a short-term basis, but they should not be the foundation of any diet or even be the mainstay for hydration under normal circumstances. Do not be fooled – they will not make you jump like Michael Jordan, and they often have calories you may not really need.

Think about your diet – what are the foods that have been fooling you?

Until next week, stay safe and healthy Vincies!

Anita Ramsetty, MD

Medical Director Endocrine Care Group

Tel: 843-798-4227