Jul 11, 2014

Health Food Myths Busted

By M


Calorie watching is an important part of some dietary plans, admittedly. But for those, like myself, who prefer to eat without calorie counts, knowledge about what to exclude and incorporate into a healthy diet proves beneficial. With all the information out there, the boundaries and the ‘yays’ and ‘nays,’ it is easy to get caught up in the latest trends. Here are a few tips on foods that one should re-evaluate based on its considered health status and allowable consumption quantities.

The Adjustment

To compensate for today’s health conscious public, many mass produced food stuff accommodate by decreasing fat content, but the public fails to see that the sugar content remains just as high. Food labels are more stringent now, making it easy to investigate the health authenticity of what’s being eaten; so go ahead and decipher/dissect the ingredients table. Remember that if sugar, or salt, appears in the top four of an ingredient list (ingredients are listed from largest content to least), this indicates an unhealthy amount in relation to the item.

Sugar can be disguised as sucrose, corn syrup, fructose, and glucose. It does not provide nutrition and does not sustain a person like food which are low on the Glycemic Index (GI). Low GI foods are those in which the sugars and carbohydrates do not cause our blood sugar levels to rise suddenly. They contain good sugars that digest slowly. Refined sugars, unlike natural sugars, could lead to weight gain and increased blood sugar levels. Large amounts of sugar, consumed over a period of time, lead to a sugar high addiction. Nevertheless, sugar is still an important part of a balanced diet. Natural sugars in vegetables, whole grains, fruits and low fat dairy are considered good sugars. The recommended daily sugar intake for women should not exceed 6 teaspoons per day in total, and 9 teaspoons for men.

Amount Amendment
  • Eat smaller portions.
Larger portions, logically, contain more calories.

They also:
  1. Encourage people to eat much more than they normally would 
  2. Cause people to underestimate how much they are actually eating
  • Portion control
  1. Use smaller plates and cups where possible (at home, restaurants, etc)
  2. When eating out, order a smaller size where possible, and share larger portions. Meal sizes tend to be larger at restaurants, encouraging larger than normal amounts of food to be consumed. 
  3. When at home, dish out a little less than you would ordinarily
  4. Practice a mindset of eating less and focussing on being satisfied, instead of over satiated.The following hadith narrated by Ibn `Umar highlights this:
    Allah's Messenger (salaAllahu alayhi wa salam) said, "A believer eats in one intestine (is satisfied with a little food…)”(Sahih al-Bukhari, hadith #5394, Book 70, Hadith 22)
  5. Wait 20 minutes before over-indulging. If you still feel hungry, wait for a while before taking that third helping. It takes a little while before the stomach registers itself as being full. A little break combat overeating. 

Know what is good and what is not

Portion control is important. But on the other side of the coin, one needs to eat the right food too.

Reassess the following food in your diet:

1 .Gra –No-la

Considered a healthy breakfast and snack food, granola is almost always baked with an amount of sugar. There are healthy aspects to granola: substantial amounts of nuts, fruit, and oats. Nuts have healthy oils and omega 3’s, fruits are fibre rich and vitamin packed, and the oatmeal provides fibre and healthy, slow-release carbohydrates. Consider using granola or muesli as a topping or addition to cereal or yoghurt, rather than the main component.

2. Dried Fr‘oo’t

Dried fruit makes a lovely snack, an addition in breakfast cereals, and in dishes. Because it is dehydrated, some might consider larger amounts healthy. Realistically, six or seven pieces of dried fruit equate to three and a half pieces of fruit. It might be dried but there remains a high sugar concentrate within. Portion control in this instance would be wise.

3. Fruit Juice?

Fruit juice is healthy and delicious, yet some brands contain huge amounts of sugar. Also fructose is used instead, as its sweetness supersedes sucrose (sugar), weight for weight. To the best of my knowledge, our bodies are designed to metabolize glucose and not fructose to a large extent. As a result, fatty acid levels increase. Juice tends to have the natural fibre removed from it, which is present in fruits. The actual fruit will be more satisfying, and contains natural fibre.

4. Got (Skim) Milk?

Skimmed milk, especially for toddlers, may not be as healthy as one thinks. Research conducted at the University Of Virginia School Of Medicine discovered that two-year- olds who consumed mainly low fat and skimmed milk were more likely to become overweight by the age of four. Studies conducted yielded a 57% outcome of being overweight. Academics believe that this is due to children feeling fuller after drinking full fat milk, as opposed to skimmed milk. Milk is an important part of a child’s diet, so it should be incorporated in the form best for growth.

5. Flavoured Yoghurt

Flavoured yoghurts are commonly considered healthy. What many fail to realize is the high sugar content within them. A standard pot of yoghurt can contain up to 27 grams of sugar. 5 grams is a teaspoon of sugar. A simple calculation shows that over 5 teaspoons of sugar can be present in one little pot of yoghurt.

A healthy diet should be part of your lifestyle, not a hindrance. It is easy to enjoy a healthier lifestyle with just a few simple adjustments. Happy eating!

Interested in learning more? Here are a few informative articles I looked at for this piece:

“The Importance of Portion Control” by Marion Nestle, a Paulette Goddard professor of Nutrition, Food Studies and Public Health

IOL, which represents online, well-known South African publisher ‘Independent Newspapers’, has the following articles on its website
· “Cut a little salt for a big health gain – study” by Jeremy Laurance
· ‘Low-fat foods are often filled with sugar’ from the New Zealand Herald.
· ‘Skim milk doesn’t stop kids getting fat’ by Jenny Hope

I'd love to hear your views on this topic. Please leave comments in the section below


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