This guest post comes from Paige Corley, a Program Director at the Biggest Loser Resort at Fitness Ridge.
It’s very difficult to really know what you need to do with your workout these days. Between the fad workouts that claim high calorie burn in a short amount of time to the magic pill that will result in miracle weight loss, we are constantly bombarded with misinformation that leaves us feeling confused and overwhelmed.
Advertising can make matters even worse when all we see is “Healthy Cookies” and “Fat Free Potato Chip” products claiming to lower cholesterol and have a lot of fiber. Even tougher, we hear that we can’t simply go to the gym and workout; we have to be concerned about what order we do the exercises, how high we get our heart rate and what formats are the best.
By Descygna Webb
Last week there was a particularly interesting episode of the TV show The Doctors that I had a chance to view. They were discussing what’s really in the foods you’re eating. An in depth view of some of the common chemicals in foods was featured, and the results were both shocking and a bit disgusting.
The Doctors reviewed several different products that are commonly eaten by people and some products that are targeted at children. The show revealed that there are toxic ingredients lurking in many of the most common grocery items you may be purchasing each week. Everything from potato chips to donuts to produce is under attack in this show.
Anytime I see a fatty food that is labeled “sugar free” or a sugary food that says “fat free” it always makes me chuckle. It’s almost always easily transparent, but that may just be that I’m a little more sensitive to it since I write about diet and fitness.
Unfortunately, most people don’t take the time to really think about the healthfulness of the food they purchase. According to a new study, dieters tend to make quick decisions about how healthy a food is based just on how it is labeled, not on its ingredients.
“Over time, dieters learn to focus on simply avoiding foods that they recognize as forbidden based on product name,” said the authors in a statement. “Thus, dieters are likely to assume that an item assigned an unhealthy name (for example, pasta) is less healthy than an item assigned a healthy name (for example, salad), and they do not spend time considering other product information that might impact their product evaluations.”
To expound on this idea, the average shopper may pass on whole wheat pasta, a perfectly healthy food, but buy a prepackaged salad with ham, croutons and a fatty dressing. (more…)
The LA Times recently reported a dangerous food myth that has been circulating throughout the health-conscious community as of late: cookies and chips are tastier, have fewer calories, less fat and more fiber when they are organic.
Organic food labeling has been a hot button issue lately as the nutritional and medical communities often find themselves at odds with food manufacturers that market foods in such a way that consumers perceive organic products as healthier choices.
“There are a lot of myths and misconceptions out there when it comes to food marketing,” said Lisa Moskovitz, RD, CDN, of Halevy Life. “For example, Twizzlers are labeled as ‘low-fat’ but they have the same amount of carbohydrates as the average loaf of bread. And that is just one example of how [consumers] are being misled by labeling.”
Fast food restaurants try really hard to fool us into thinking their foods are good for us, as counter-intuitive as that may be. It starts with the images in their commercials where the foods are glistening with each slice of tomato, lettuce, and grilled chicken breast or burger nicely stacked on top of each other.
Then you have some of the buzzwords that they use. This part really gets under my skin because it’s such a brazen way of being deceptive – walking that tight rope of legality, while using words that imply the other words that they can’t actually use!
So, when a fast food commercial wants to tell you that their foods are healthy, but obviously can’t, they go for the next best thing: words like wholesome, fresh, all-natural, premium, or 100 percent whatever. (more…)
A simple trip to the grocery store requires you to make many decisions when you want to eat healthy. Organic or natural? What food additives should you avoid? What products are the best sources of protein? Or vitamins?
To help you navigate all these questions, FoodFacts.com has created the Food Facts Health Score. This score takes into consideration the nutrition facts on the label plus the quality of the ingredients and boils all that information down to one number, from one to 100.
Sometimes I enjoy reading about studies that “look us in the eyes” and tell us the obvious. Take this study led by an NYU School of Medicine investigator: calorie labels do not affect teenagers’ decisions on what they choose to eat at fast food restaurants.
Young people feel indestructible. That’s why they smoke, do crazy skateboarding tricks, or eat foods that are not good for them. Part of the feeling of dietary invincibility is a lot of young people have metabolisms that can burn calories like crazy. Unfortunately, diets are getting so bad that more kids aren’t able to hold onto their youthful energy or take advantage of a high metabolic rate.
In the study, researchers found that the teens noticed the calorie information just as often as adults. However, they didn’t react in a positive manner as often as the adults. (more…)
This week, the food industry unveiled a new initiative to make it easier for consumers to make healthy choices about packaged foods. Food packages will soon start to carry food labels on the front, called “Nutrition Keys.” The front-of-package labels were created to “promote healthier lifestyles,” said Pamela Bailey, the president of the Grocery Manufacturers Association.
The nutrition keys will start to appear within the next few months, but will not be fully implemented until the end of the year. The keys will show the number of calories, in addition to the amount of sugar, salt and saturated fat per serving. The keys can also include two other nutrients, like vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin D, calcium, potassium, fiber, iron, calcium or protein.
On Wednesday, British courts ruled that Vitaminwater, a popular line of flavored water products, has too much sugar to be accurately described as nutritious. While UK courts ordered brand owner Coca-Cola to stop publicizing the claim, US legislators have already decided that Vitaminwater claims violate FDA rules.
Now, the UK’s Advertising Standards Authority said that Coca-Cola broke the rules by describing the products as “delicious and nutritious” in a 2010 ad. According to the CBC News, consumers wouldn’t expect a drink marketed as nutritious to have between four and five teaspoons of added sugar.
“The term ‘nutritional value’ is the loophole many manufacturers use to sell their products without outright lying,” said Mindy Haar, MS, RD, CDN, Director of the Graduate Program in Clinical Nutrition, New York Institute of Technology. “Most associate the term ‘nutritional value’ with ‘healthfulness,’ yet any food with more than zero calories, whether these calories are from carbohydrates, protein or fat, does provide some nutrition.”
Among the many products clamoring to get attention for their “green” credentials, real or purported, it can be difficult to tell which items are genuinely eco-friendly from the green-washed impostors. To help discerning consumers, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s BioPreferred program announced yesterday that they will be offering a new, voluntary seal for bio-based products.
Similar to the USDA Organic label and the Energy Star seal, the new “USDA Certified Biobased Product” seal aims to steer consumers towards products that are made from renewable resources. “Today’s consumers are increasingly interested in making educated purchasing choices for their families,” said Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan in a press release. “This label will make those decisions easier by identifying products as biobased. These products have enormous potential to create green jobs in rural communities, add value to agricultural commodities, decrease environmental impacts, and reduce our dependence on imported oil.”