I’m here today to pull back the curtain on a few items that have been well-marketed to make us think they are healthy. Did you know that if a product says “Organic,” it doesn’t mean it actually is? In fact, only if it says “Certified Organic” on the front of the packaging, is it truly organic. Did you know words like “Whole Grain,” “Wholesome,” and “Healthy,” have no bearing on the ingredients of a product. They are empty words, legislatively allowed by the food industry.
I was once a proud believer that yogurt is a staple in a healthy diet. That’s marketing for you! However, the label often reveals loads of added sugar, especially in any flavored yogurts. Along with added sugar, it’s important to also consider fructose, which is the natural sugar of fruit. However, without the fiber from the actual fruit flesh, fructose processes in the body like a sugar. Most companies add additional “Fructose Syrup” to enhance the sweetness, and “additional flavorings,” which often means sugar and dyes. Bottom line, when all this sugar is added up, you may as well have just eaten a bowl of ice cream. So, what’s a yogurt lover to do? There are a couple options. First, buy plain yogurt, while still always checking the label, and add in your own fresh fruit, honey, or seeds to enhance its flavor. The second option is to make your own. I have a yogurt maker, and it allows me to make yogurt using nut milks, rather than dairy milk, so I can enjoy the flavor varieties.
Alright, let’s talk cereal. I’m going to just rip the Band-aid off; there is no such thing as truly health cereal, period. Nope, not even the mixtures in the earthy-looking boxes. All cereal, I repeat, all cereal is made from a type of flour. Here’s why that matters: Simple versus complex carbohydrates. When a grain is broken down, or crushed into a flour, it is simpler for your body to process. This hastened processing in the body spikes the blood sugar and leaves us feeling hungry again sooner. Cereals with more bran and fiber can help slow down the bodies processing, thus acting more like a complex carb to steady insulin release and level the blood sugar for longer. The best choice would be a cereal with whole-wheat flour because it is less processed, but it needs to be the first ingredient listed. I encourage you to also check out the sodium and sugar levels. For a healthy individual, the ideal consumption is no more than 1500mg of sodium per day, and 25 grams of sugar. So, what is best for breakfast? Whole grains, fruits, nuts, and seeds. They fill us up and, because they take the system longer to process, they keep us feeling fueled and full longer. Did you know oatmeal is loaded with carbohydrates, but because of the fiber they are slowly absorbed. Oatmeal also offers ten grams of protein per half cup! Personally, I am an oatmeal breakfast eater. I heat a half cup of oatmeal in water, then heat in a half cup of almond milk, and top it off with half a banana and a teaspoon of cinnamon. Carbohydrates are essential to our bodies, so never go without them, but the types of ‘carbs’ you consume matters.
I would like you to open sixteen sugar packets and eat them in one sitting. Sound gross? Well, if you are a soda drinker, that is what is in each twenty-ouncer. Soda offers no nutrients at all. The body doesn’t know what to do with that much sugar, so it begins storing the extra sugar in your fat, where it becomes its own complicated ecosystem. Zero calorie diet sodas — let me ask you; have you ever seen a growing plant that makes soda? That’s because it’s all chemicals and artificial sweeteners. Did you know artificial sweeteners are received by the body as sugar, and they trigger insulin, thus putting the body into the same fat storage mode as regular soda? According to Health.com, “Drinking one diet soda a day was associated with a 36% increased risk of metabolic syndrome and diabetes in a University of Minnesota study. Metabolic syndrome describes a cluster of conditions (including high blood pressure, elevated glucose levels, raised cholesterol, and large waist circumferences) that put people at high risk for heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.”
As I see it, your body is made of cells, and those cells are always regenerating. What the body has to build those cells is what we feed it. If we want our bodies to be healthy, then we need to feed it healthy, real, whole foods.