It’s easy to lose your head and a lot of money in the pursuit of a slim silhouette. The markets for food products and pharmaceuticals are constantly fighting for your attention. What should you watch out for while losing weight? And how do food industry manufacturers manipulate you and your nutritional ignorance? Here’s a short yet highly practical guide on how to lose weight without losing your head.
SWEETENED FRUIT JUICES, SOFT DRINKS, FLAVOURED WATERS
We often hear that a glass of fruit juice a day can replace your daily portion of fruits. Well, that is true, but do you really know what juice is? Can you tell the difference between a juice, a nectar or a drink? Most of us don’t pay attention to what they’re really buying. Fundamental knowledge and skilful reading labels can protect us from throwing money down the drain. Many of us, when talking about juice, mean the whole large group of sugary drinks that fill the store shelves. Marketing tricks used by manufacturers keep convincing us that the product is of top quality.
Juice is a food product, the definition of which has been strictly specified. You can call “juice” only the liquid squeezed directly from fruits or vegetables, or obtained from concentrated juice. Juice can contain a small addition of sugar, more and more manufacturers, however, resign from this ingredient. Juice cannot contain any additional substances such as: dyes, flavours or chemical fixing agents. Good quality juice should remain fresh thanks to pasteurisation processes. The only drawback is that once high temperature is used for a while, some part of vitamins and minerals is degraded, and our juice loses its quality. Let’s then chose juice without the addition of sugar. At the same time, let’s not exaggerate with its amount, a glass a day is enough.
Nectar – sounds proud, doesn’t it? But what does it mean? The content of fruit or vegetable juice in nectar varies from 25% to 100%, so if you don’t read the label carefully, buying a nectar is a real quality lottery. It often also contains such additives as water, sugar and citric acid. No artificial colourings or flavours are added though. Nutritional quality of the product is also lower than the real fruit juice.
Drink is the worst possible choice when it comes to the shop range of products intended for drinking. Fruits or vegetables in such liquid amount to maximum 25%. Drinks contain huge doses of sugar, colourings, flavourings and synthetic preservatives. Sweet drinks such as cola contain 8 teaspoons of added sugar in a small can. It’s a lot, isn’t it? So, maybe it’s better to choose flavoured mineral water, as nutritionists recommend a high intake of water? Nothing could be further from the truth – in the daily recommended serving of water, 2 litres, we can find as many as 17 teaspoons of added sugar. And that’s not all: drinking just one flavoured water bottle will provide us with up to 470 kcal v it’s as much as a decent lunch or a big burger in fast food.
The ordinary mineral water is cheap, but it meets all the requirements of a healthy diet. A healthy and varied diet does not have to be expensive. Instead of buying a large amount of juice in supermarkets, let’s squeeze the fruits ourselves – our health will reward us with immunity enhancement and improved well-being.
LIGHT, FIT AND FITNESS PRODUCTS
Seeing supermarkets shelves full of food products labelled in capital letters: 0% fat, light, fit, fitness, no fat or sugar free, we’re sure that these products will help us lose weight. The truth is that it is just another marketing ploy: capital letters are designed to divert our attention from the nonsense written on the label and a fairly high price. They arouse our interest and curiosity – let’s take a better look at them.
The provisions of the European Commission for Food Safety govern the use of the “light” word on foods. According to these a “light” product is one for which the calorific value is reduced by 30%. It is characterized by a reduced content of one or more nutrients. Mistakes in this definition are often used by dishonest manufacturers. Let’s take a look at a light fruit yogurt: the producer lowered its fat content by 30% – it’s great isn’t it? However, decreasing the fat content was performed at the expense of adding extra food thickeners and sugar e.g. guar gum or starch, which naturally don’t occur in yogurt.
We fall into the “light” trap every day. This designation does not only refer to sugar, protein and fat. Light products often have lower levels of fibre, cholesterol, vitamins and nutrients. But let us not be fooled: if we reduce the content of one ingredient of the product, the other one can be added in excess, redirecting the customer’s attention with the “light” mark on the package. Once again the ability to read labels properly comes in very handy. Let’s do it then, let’s be inquisitive – after all it’s our health that is at stake.
Take a closer look to fitness bars. They’re full of bran, grains, cereals and all the other goodies – but what’s really inside? Almost half the fat contained in these bars is animal fat – there are as much as 4 g per each 100 g of the product. We’ll also find there additional 28 g of sugar and 1.5 g of dietary fibre – it’s a bit odd, considering the amount of “healthy ingredients”. You see, there’s basically nothing that could be associated with the word “fitness”. If we do, however, have an constant urge to eat something sweet and crispy, we can make our own fitness bars, at home with high quality ingredients and with capital F.
Healthy food does not have to be expensive. High prices usually go hand in hand with pseudo-healthy food. Instead of a light fruit yogurt, choose the natural, regular one. Add it to your favourite seasonal or frozen fruits and enjoy your delicious, healthy and preservative-free yogurt.
As you can see, we witness many shopping traps every day. It’s important to use the common sense. The ability to read labels and leaflets as well as basic knowledge of healthy eating and dieting can protect us from throwing money down the drain and getting stuffed with substances which are harmful to our health.