By Rosemary Marchese
Physiotherapist and mum of 3 fit kids
Why ‘healthy foods’ are making you fat and sick
As a parent I’m surrounded by so many other parents trying to do the ‘best’ for their child and on a day-to-day basis this often starts with the lunchbox. Well-intentioned ideas, even for themselves, can be the unravelling of health and keeping waistlines growing.
The same goes for parents themselves. Run down and in the ‘hurry’ of life it’s easy to grab a coffee and a muffin on the way to work after the kids have been dropped at school or daycare. Swap that for a healthy ‘smoothie’ and you are picking up your health-kick where you left off, right?
Maybe not. Let’s look at why.
1. Low fat is not ‘low waistline’
‘Low fat’ foods are generally the result of the low-fat craze we went through in the 80s and 90s but they have stuck around. Don’t believe that a low fat yoghurt is not ruining your health. Food technicians work hard at replacing the missing fat with anything else that can make it ‘tasty’ and even ‘thicker’. Taste will often come from sugar, and plenty of it. Sugar converts to fat if our body doesn’t need it and it may not just stick to your butt and thighs either. If it starts travelling around near your vital organs it can contribute to all sorts of malfunctions that lead to diseases such as type 2 diabetes, cancer and heart disease.
2. Smoothies are often packed with sugar
Not all smoothies are what I would call ‘unhealthy’. In fact, I often use a smoothie as a great ‘on-the-go’ option, but I’m really fussy with what goes in it. I stay away from any smoothie that has ‘juice’ added to it. I can’t see how processed juice is healthy for me. I also pack in some protein, try to stay away from added sugars and keep the serving size reasonable. While they are usually a better option than fast food items you still need to get yours made to order and watch what goes in them.
3. An ‘organic’ cookie is still a cookie
While I love a good ‘organic’ option for my produce when it comes to packaged food I am a little more sceptical. Picking up a muesli bar that’s made with organic this and organic that is still not doing anything great for your health and waistline if it’s packed with sugars and other processed items. And don’t get me started on all the processed oils we are unknowingly putting into our bodies via processed food. (Actually, yes I’ll get started on that in number 6).
4. Protein bars are still human-made foods
For some reason it’s easy for us to be conned into thinking a protein bar with all its marketing hype is good for us. Not all of them are. Most of them are packed with lots of highly processed stuff, and I would argue that many of us have no idea what the ingredients actually are. If you don’t know the ingredient stay away until you know.
5. Gluten free has no health halo
It’s time to remove the health-halo we have given all gluten-free foods. While there may be a role for gluten free for some people that doesn’t mean the foods labelled gluten free are healthy. Bread items that are doing your tummy harm in their natural state may not be any better for you in their more processed gluten free state either. Gluten free muffins are my favourite – not. Do you know what’s in it? Ask!
6. Nasty oils are hidden everywhere
There’s no doubt we are eating out more and buying more processed food as a community. The nasty side of this is we don’t know what oils foods are being cooked in or what oils are being added to packaged foods (well, if you don’t check the label). Poor quality oils are starting to showcase more and more in the science as being linked to the diseases we are being diagnosed with. They can contribute to weight gain and illness. Stay away from them.
7. On-the-go breakfasts in a tetra packs are not breakfast
Some of these tetra packs with clever marketing are simply fancy chocolate in a liquid box. There’s often lots of hidden sugars and other surprises.
Tips for making healthy choices:
- Get handy at making your own smoothies at home. You know what’s in it then.
- Read ALL labels. Know what’s in your foods.
- Stick to fresh produce you have made yourself as much as possible.
- Keep packaged food out of your family’s eating plan as much as possible, especially lunchboxes.
- Be aware of marketing hype with words such as ‘organic’ and ‘gluten-free’ – it’s not an automatic ‘healthy’ food just because of the label.
Rose is a Fit Busy Mum of 3 fit kids. She aims to empower mums who are time poor. She acknowledges that mums are ‘busy’ but tries to inspire them to regain their fitness through simple everyday habits that she promotes through her book ‘The Fit Busy Mum: Seven habits for success’.