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The Hidden Enemy

There you are walking through the grocery store trying to find some healthy items for the week. You see labels and promotions everywhere.




All these promotions surround you. On the surface they appear to be healthy choices. All of those adjectives in your mind sound like they’re healthy, right? You pick a few items, you check out, and you go on your merry way. When you get home you look at the nutrition panel. That gluten-free, high protein cereal that you just bought has 12 grams of sugar per serving. And the serving size is 3/4 of a cup! Or that gluten free granola bar you just chowed down, come to find out has 8 grams of sugar, and it was tiny, and you’re still hungry. You’ve just been fooled by advertisement.


Here’s another scenario. You go into your favorite yogurt shop. There’s a sign that says boosts immunity, improves gastrointestinal tract, excellent source of calcium and protein, improves nutrient absorption, and my favorite helps reduce cholesterol.Then you ask for the nutrition information on their products. Come to find out at your favorite yogurt shop, a quarter of a cup of that top knotch yogurt can have upwards to 19 g of sugar! Did you know that excess sugar in the body is converted into triglycerides and then it is stored as fat. How does that help your cholesterol? This unfortunately is a true story that recently occurred in my family’s life.


Marketing is a tricky thing. Creative people are excellent at misleading our minds into thinking that what we are buying is actually good for us, when in fact it could be detrimental to our health and our kid’s health. We need to read food labels. Look at the actual nutrition panels before you buy an item. It is extremely rare that an item of food will put the sugar content on the front of the box. This is because sugar is hidden in everything!  And they want you to buy it, sugar is addictive. 


Or how about this, you pass the juice in the refrigerator section in the grocery store. You pick up the orange juice and read: fortified with Vitamin D and calcium, 100% daily source of vitamin C. Yes it is true that oranges can have a great source of vitamin C, but 8 fluid ounces of orange juice contains 23-25 grams of sugar. In addition to that, did you know that vitamin C and sugar compete for the same receptors in the body? And guess who wins out between the two? Yes, that’s right, sugar. So if you’re trying to live healthy by bumping up that vitamin C, you may not even processing it, if it comes hand in hand with sugar. This results in decreased antioxidant capacity of our cells. There are actually some studies that suggest oxidative nerve damage in diabetics is in part is due to the cells inability to utilize vitamin C as an antioxidant, because of excessive sugar out-competing it on the cell surface. Food for thought. 


Watch out for fat free products. If something says fat free or low fat, it’s probably loaded with sugar to make it tasty. And although many people do better with gluten-free products, there is a misconception about gluten-free. Many believe that if it’s gluten-free, it’s automatically healthy. Gluten-free does not mean sugar-free. Same with organic. Just because something is grown organically, or contains all organic food items does not necessarily mean it is nutritionally beneficial. Overall, I would argue IN favor organic items over non-organic items. But we still need to read those nutritional panels. Organic cane sugar is still sugar.


Also, be aware of serving sizes. Again, this is a marketing scam. You may look at the nutritional panel and it says 5 g of sugar in that cereal you love, but that’s per half a cup. In reality how many of us eat a half a cup of cereal? Not many. So we are eating 2 to 3 times the serving size and that adds up quickly. So don’t trust flashy labels. What looks good on the surface may not be as healthy as you think.


I would argue that if you are spending an abundant amount of time reading food labels in the grocery store- you are probably buying the wrong products. Definitely make sure you are still buying whole foods first. Stick with the fresh or frozen vegetables, fruits and meats. But if you need to get additional items, READ LABELS! Your health depends on it. 


Good luck out there families. Live well. 

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