The multiple “diet” and “good-for-you” foods lining the market shelves can cause real confusion. Don’t be tricked by diet foods that promise to help you shed pounds, but only add more to the scale. Read the following information before you stock up on that sugar-free soda!
Diet Duds: Sugar Substitutes
We all know that in terms of your health, there’s nothing sweet about sugar. So, if sugar is so bad, you might think the solution is to reach for sugar-free foods. Not so fast! A study published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, found an association between increased risk of cardiovascular disease and drinking diet beverages. All that soda pop may also increase your risk for diabetes and expand your waistline! Artificial sweeteners are used to replace regular sugar, but they don’t add any nutritional value. In fact, sometimes these sweeteners may be up to 200 times sweeter than regular sugar, which can trick the brain into preparing the body to metabolize a calorie load that doesn’t exist. As a result, the body is left craving more food, while you are left with a sweet tooth! Diet drinks, baked goods, powdered drink mixes, candy, puddings, canned foods, jams and jellies, some dairy products, and many other foods and beverages may contain artificial sweeteners – so be on the lookout.
Choose instead: For a natural alternative to sugar that won’t wreak havoc on your waistline or blood sugar, stick with small amounts of honey or try Stevia, made from the stevia leaf. As always, moderation is key!
Watch out: Read the ingredients on all products and steer clear of artificial sugar names, including sucralose, aspartame, acesulfame potassium and neotame.
Forego Fat-Free Foods
Here’s another common misconception: cutting fat from the diet will improve chances of weight loss. Fat is an essential nutrient that our bodies require for multiple functions, one of which is to absorb vitamins. Fat also gives flavor to food and provides a feeling of satiety, so you won’t feel like you are chewing on cardboard! When manufacturers remove fat from a food, they often replace it with sugar and additives to make it more edible. As a result, you and your taste buds are left unsatisfied, which may tempt you to consume more calories. Instead of limiting fat in your diet, learn to decipher between heart-healthy fat and artery-clogging trans fats. While overconsumption of saturated fats can raise your risk for heart disease, eating small amounts may actually benefit your health.
Choose instead: Organic eggs and coconuts can provide healthy benefits when enjoyed in moderation. In addition, mono- and polyunsaturated fats like nuts, olives, seeds and avocados are other heart-friendly foods that should make an appearance your plate. The health benefits of omega-3 fatty acids are well documented, so enjoy delicious, oily fish like wild salmon and sardines, flaxseeds, walnuts, and chia seeds.
Watch out: To ensure that you avoid any foods that contain trans fats, look for the words “partially hydrogenated” in the ingredient list.