Our Culture is at it Again…
If you’re like me, you care about what your family eats. My wife and I have small children and we want to make sure they have a well-balanced, healthy diet. Unfortunately, Marketers have a wonderful way of twisting words to trick our minds and make our job as parents more difficult. Salt, sugar and artificial ingredients are the latest scheme up big food companies’ sleeves, to deceive us into believing that what we are putting into our bodies is something different from what it actually is. Let me walk you through a pretty typical example.
Take yogurt. It’s toted as a healthy alternative, right? Fits into the new health craze spreading through the U.S. If you buy and consume yogurt, you believe you’re making a healthy food choice–right? I’ve got some bad news for you. There have been tweaks made to this normally healthy food and they are skating by unnoticed in the super market. But before I break it down for you, Let’s talk about sugar.
I want to give you some of the sugar recommendations from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and World Health Organization (WHO). Last year, the WHO released sugar recommendations for daily intake levels. They recommended an average weight adult to take in about 5% of their daily calories as sugar. This would equal out to about 6 teaspoons, or 25 grams. The American Heart Association (AHA) previously recommended about 20 grams for adult women, 36 grams for adult men and 16 grams for children. Please note that these are the maximum recommendations and the WHO and AHA both stated that really we should take in about a fraction of these amounts.
Now let’s head back to our good friend, yogurt. But let’s be a bit more specific. A few days back I was at the grocery store to pick up snacks for my son’s lunches. Thinking of what to send him with, I walked right by the yogurt shelf and thought to myself, he loves yogurt! That would be a great and healthy snack for Shane’s lunch. I sorted through the brands and found what I assumed was a healthy Greek nonfat strawberry yogurt. As I went to drop the yogurt in and moved on, I turned it over just to check and make sure there was no high fructose corn syrup and there in bold it hit me! 21 grams of sugar in a single serving. You could sort through the different brands out there and find the one that is labeled lowest in fat or fat free, but either way, you’re going to find an average of 18-22 grams of sugar in a 5.3 oz cup (which is a single serving). 18-22 grams, that leaves no room for anything else sugary for the rest of the day, yet this item has been skillfully marketed as a healthy substitute!
If you look closer at the labels, they’ve been labeled “healthy” because they claim a lower or reduced fat percentage as compared to plain yogurt.
So is yogurt the enemy?
No, yogurt is a great snack, but the issue is what has been added to the yogurt to make it taste “good.” If you were to go to the same yogurt aisle, you could pick up a “plain Greek yogurt,” take a look at the back and notice that there is almost no sugar in the cup. Throw that in the cart and swing by the produce section on your way out. Here, you can pick up a few fresh strawberries to throw into your plain yogurt and voila! Not only did you just save yourself from ingesting the extra sugar, but you avoided what additives have been thrown into the strawberry yogurt to make it so sweet. There in lies the issue–strawberry Greek yogurt is not just yogurt with strawberries added to it–it actually has a sugary sauce thrown into it to help preserve the tiny strawberry pieces that sweeten the yogurt.
So what can we do?
More and more, society is catching on to the deceptions that lie within the market and are getting back to cultivating food the way citizens did years ago. With the ever-increasing cases of cancer, super bugs and internal disease, research shows that food in its natural state is best for consumption. The best thing you can do for you and your family is take some time to read what is in your food at the grocery store. Look for labels that have a shorter ingredient list to avoid added sugars and preservatives. Read the product nutrition label and see how much sugar, salt or fat may be lying inside. So even when it should be healthy, don’t fall for clever advertising and fancy labels. Something labeled all-natural or sugar-free is most likely not what it seems. In our house, we mix half the sweetened yogurt with plain to reduce the amount of sugar in the serving we feed our family. You can also buy plain Greek yogurt and add your own fruit in order to reduce the amount of sugar you are ingesting. Plus, then you know what ingredients are actually in your meal! Take the time to take control of the foods you bring home so your family can get the quality nutrition they need to be healthy, be happy, and lead a well led life.
As we continue to cultivate a well led life, stay tuned, and I will help you decipher your grocery list so you can meet your good health goals.