Looking at ‘healthy’ alternatives

Published 3:38 pm Friday, January 6, 2012

As a society, we are inundated and bombarded with a myriad of advertisements and commercials, pushing so called “healthy” food alternatives.
Let’s explore some of these, and see just how healthy or unhealthy they happen to be.
1) Light ice cream. Just because ice cream has the word “light” on the label doesn’t guarantee it has fewer calories. Also, some light ice creams are less satisfying, so you end up eating more. Instead: Try dairy-free ice cream. Soymilk ice creams have fewer calories, and they’re really satisfying.
2) Baked potato chips. These chips may be lower in fat, but are still high in calories, and low in nutrients. Instead. Try popcorn. You’ll get all the crunch of potato chips, and around 65 percent fewer calories. I recommend oil-free or air- popped corn.
3) Diet soda. Diet sodas have been linked to “metabolic syndrome,” whose symptoms include increased belly fat that puts you at greater risk for heart attack. Also, the artificial sweeteners used in diet sodas are by their very nature, several, sometimes hundreds times sweeter than sugar. These sweeteners satisfy your mouth, but not your brain. In other words, your brain is all dressed up with no place to go. This makes you crave sugar, and creates an even bigger sweet tooth. Instead: Try flavored seltzer water. It’s refreshing and has 0 calories. Make sure there are no artificial flavors in your seltzer water. If you want to flavor your seltzer water even more, use fruit juices.
4) Non-fat salad dressings. These dressings may have no fat, but that doesn’t mean they have no calories. Most fat-free dressings are loaded with sugar. Also, you want a little fat with your salad. Without any fat, you can’t absorb vitamins A, D, E and K. Instead: Try olive oil based dressings.
5) Calorie–free spray margarine. Even if your margarine claims to be “calorie free,” it may not be. Labeling laws allow products with fewer than five calories to claim zero calories, so using several sprays could really add up the calories. Also, margarines contain trans fats, which tend to clog your arteries. Instead: Try an olive oil based spray. It contains “monounsaturated fats,” which help relieve inflammation, and are good for your heart.
6) 100-calorie snack packs. People tend to eat more food when presented smaller portions. In fact, in one study, participants didn’t feel the need to regulate their food intake, and ate more than one portion before they felt satisfied. Instead: Have a small serving of almonds. Almonds contain healthy monounsaturated fat, and the fiber and proteins they contain will help tide you over until your next meal.
Diet or exercise question? Email me at dwcrocker77@gmail.com or visit fitness4yourlife.org. David Crocker of Landrum has been a nutritionist and personal trainer for 25 years. He served as strength director of the Spartanburg Y.M.C.A, head strength coach for the S.C. state champion girls gymnastic team, USC-Spartanburg baseball team, Converse college equestrian team, lead trainer to L.H. Fields modeling agency, and taught four semesters at USC-Union. David was also a regular guest of the Pam Stone radio show.