It’s three o’clock. You’re hungry. You want a snack. You are seriously considering the shiny bag of Cheetos beckoning you from the vending machine, but you turn away. The satanic orange feline will not ruin your diet today. You will be healthy. You will purchase the nutty, oat-filled, fruit-flavored granola bar instead. You slip in your coins, press the correct button combination and enjoy your afternoon treat. In the end, you are satisfied. Yes, part of you still longs for the lingering taste of artificial-cheese flavoring, but a bigger part celebrates your health victory. And you were healthy; weren’t you?
Why don’t you take a moment to dig your granola-bar wrapper out of the trash? Then, compare the nutrition label to the bag of Cheetos you shunned. Which one is worse? Hopefully, the granola bar was the better choice, but reality may be quite different. Molding handfuls of nuts, oats and dried fruits into a bar can be a process that turns a good thing into too much of a good thing. The “healthy” treat is rendered no more healthful than an injection of fat, often containing more calories, lipids and sugars than the so-called unhealthy option. It’s a truth that haunts all aspects of the food industry from snacks to cereals to restaurant entrees. We are lulled into a false sense of security by the list of ingredients or a healthy stamp.
The only way to avoid it is to pay attention and look beyond the label. It is easy to be taken in by the fancy words and pretty drawings that adorn packages and menus, and considerably quicker than analyzing nutrition. However, you have to realize that those health claims aren’t always as true as you’d think. Cholesterol-free and heart healthy don’t mean fat-free and low-calorie. And speaking of no fat, the removal of that little devil doesn’t purify a food. Many candies, for example, have zero fat, because they are made solely of sugar. Where’s the goodness in that?
Take the time to look at the labels. Understand the claims that are being made and don’t be fooled by a list of ingredients that appear healthy. Use logic. You’re a smart person; you can figure out what’s smart for your body.
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