Deceptive ‘Diet’ Foods

Posted: Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Categories: Diet, Health, Lifestyle

No doubt we’ve all seen certain foods on the shelves advertising themselves as ‘diet’ or ‘low-calorie’ versions of popular alternatives, but are these products really better for us, or beneficial when trying to maintain or achieve a healthy body weight?

The culprits here are often pre-prepared meals, advertising low calorie or fat-free content. A key tip from our personal trainers is to always consult the nutritional value label. You can take a look at an example nutrition label and what it all means on our Recommended Intakes page. Here, you’ll see whether the product really is all that healthy. Often, these pre-prepared dishes have a hidden sodium and sugar content. Cooking from scratch may be more time-consuming, but it does mean you know exactly what you’re putting into your body. Try making food it batches and freezing individual portions for when busy. Cheaper and healthier all round.

Low-calorie or zero-sugar drinks may seem tempting to anyone who has read about fad diets, but these beverages often contain artificial sweeteners like aspartame, some of which are actively bad for you. The occasional fizzy drink won’t hurt, but try to stick to water as well, perhaps with a little squash.

Low-fat fruit yoghurts are also suspects in the line up, as they often contain high levels of sugar, sometimes up to 15g a serving. Again, the trick here is to check the label. Live natural or Greek yoghurt is an alternative, and can be flavoured with a drizzle of honey for sweetness.

Breakfast cereals often seem like a healthy option, but can be packed full of sugar. Look out for ‘frosted’ versions, which often have around 37g of sugar per 100g. Natural muesli is a good option (no, not the one with chocolate curls in) as it contains high amounts of fibre, as well as a handful of whole grains and nuts. Porridge oats are even better, and are an excellent form of slow-releasing energy.

Watch out for diets claiming to help you lose weight by eating only cereal. It might seem like an easy option, but it is not sustainable or ideal for a healthy lifestyle.

Frequent exercise, such as personal training sessions, paired with a balanced diet will succeed in the long term, rather than being a quick fix.

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