The Real Deal Behind “Light Foods”

When trying to eat healthy, it can be tempting to gravitate towards the foods that say light, or fat-free, or calorie-reduced. It must be better for you in moderation, but don’t let these labels fool you into indulging in what you think is a lighter fare.

From chips to cookies to salad dressing to diet coke, many people trying to battle their waistline shovel these items into carts so they feel good about eating healthier versions of the foods they crave. The problem is, these foods actually end up being just as unhealthy, just in a different way.

The Myth. Low-fat foods make you lose weight.

The Fact. “Low-fat” or “fat-free” doesn’t also mean calorie-free. Check the calorie content of foods, especially cakes, biscuits, ice creams and microwave dinners. Extra sugars and thickeners are added to boost flavour and enhance the texture, so calorie content may be only a tad less, or the same as standard products. Companies can’t just remove the fat or lower the number of calories without affecting the flavor. To make up for this they add extra sugar, sodium, additives and chemicals.

Keep in mind that it’s okay to embrace real food that contains real fat. I’m not saying it’s okay to dive into the cream cheese with the ice-cream scoop, but according to Women’s Health, “many nutritionists recommend eating full-fat food in smaller portions to lose or maintain weight.” So go ahead and enjoy the foods you love”like French fries, red meat and danishes”in moderation, and don’t get obsessed with a light diet.

Remember: Fat isn’t always the enemy. Your body does need certain types of fat to function normally. They also help you feel full, so you avoid overeating. Put those reading glasses on and scrutinize food labels, and give the ones made with healthy fats like nuts, fish and olive oil the green light. Limit your intake of saturated fat by opting for lean meat and smarter dairy choices like skim milk, and completely avoid trans fats.

In the end, it’s a numbers game. People tend to have half-fat spread but then use twice as much. I don’t remember much about math class, but this doesn’t seem to equate health! As long as you remember that balance is key, it’s okay to be smart while you indulge. Your body will truly thank you for giving it the real deal every once in a while.

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Tags: calorie-reduced, eating healthy, fat-free, Health, Light food

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