The grocery store shelves are filled with so called “diet foods.” We can easily find low fat cereals, cookies, milk, ice cream – just about anything you can imagine. Food manufacturers take a food, reformulate it into a low fat version, and market it as “diet food.” But, are these foods helping you lose weight or are they making you fat?
Thirty or forty years ago, reformulated low fat foods were almost unheard of. Food was simpler then; it derived from plants, fish, birds and animals. If someone from the past could walk through a modern-day grocery store, they would be astounded at the incredible variety of “food” in the store. Unfortunately, they wouldn’t recognize a lot of the products as food (and maybe we shouldn’t, either).
What’s changed? Well, lots of things, some good, some not so good. First of all, the food science industry has gotten better at preserving and packaging food, so we are able to devote less time to searching out, preparing and eating food. This is arguably a very good thing, as not many families are able to have someone home all day who has the primary responsibility of making sure that all family members are well fed. In this busy work-a-day world, we increasingly need something fast and easily accessible to eat. Now we have plenty of food to choose from that we can eat on the run – fast, easy, and not too expensive, either from the grocery store, or a nearby restaurant.
Diet Foods – Low Fat, Low Calorie or Low Carbohydrate
Diet foods can be low fat, low calorie or low carbohydrate. Generally, though, when a food is advertised as a diet food, it’s low fat or low calorie. Finding good low carb diet foods is a little harder, although there are some available in most grocery stores. When the Atkins Diet was all the craze, low carb options began cropping up, but now low carb options are harder to find, and some stores have totally done away with their low carb shelves.
So, what’s wrong with the low fat diet foods in particular? The added sugar. When you remove fat from a food, you also are removing a lot of flavor. To make up for that loss of flavor, sugar is added.
To qualify for a reduced fat label, a product must contain 25% less fat than the original. That’s not a lot, and when you add in the sugar that’s replacing the fat, your diet is most likely sabotaged. What’s worse than the calories in that food, is that the sugar will make you hungrier, due to the effect eating sugar has on your insulin level.
So, bottom line is you cut out 25% of the fat, but if you add more calories in sugar form, you will probably want to eat again – soon. Check the labels carefully to see whether sugar has been added to the reduced fat food.
The real diet foods are those that provide nutrition and energy, and leave you feeling satisfied. Once you understand the relationship between carbs and weight loss you can leave the so called “diet foods” behind.
Don’t waste your time on diets that make you hungry!