“But, Momma, this is healthy, they say so”, exclaimed Neena’s five year old son.
“And who are they?” she asked casually.
“Those people in advertisements”, he retorted.
If you think that your kids are not watching advertisements attentively, then you might be mistaken. While kids are fond of cartoon series, they even like to watch the commercials. Even I find commercials quite interesting. Nowadays, television commercials are designed strategically. Many commercials even say, “Ask your mom to get one for you today” or “Better than fruits” or “Healthier to whole wheat” and the list go on. Kids and even parents are sometimes fooled by this.
With so many health ailments becoming common these days, parents should take this as a wake-up call. Packaged juices, instant noodles, chocolate biscuits are not healthy. Also, whether the healthy ingredients that such products boast of are actually present in the foods is a big question! Here are some of the foods that are advertised as healthy but are actually unhealthy.
1. Healthy Sandwiches
Last time when you went to a restaurant, you ordered a veggie sandwich, thinking that you will skip eating junk food this way. But did you know how much portion of vegetables are actually present in your sandwich? The sandwich that is advertised as healthy and full of nutrition do not have required amount of veggies.
In addition, the veggies that are added are not always fresh. The sandwich also contains unhealthy dressings and sauces to enhance the taste. Next time, before ordering a sandwich, check the ingredients that will be added to your sandwich closely.
2. Fried Vegetables
I did this mistake. I once ordered crispy veggies at a restaurant, thinking that they will be nutritious for my toddler. However, later I came to know that fried veggies are not actually healthy. They pass through a process that strips them of all the nutrition required.
The veggies are dipped in batter that has lots of salt. Further, they are deep fried, which is one of the unhealthy cooking methods. So, if the restaurant menu has listed fried vegetables as healthy options, then you need to understand the difference!
3. Tomato Ketchup / Soy Sauce
Yes, sauces are termed to be healthy. And most importantly, they are advertised to be healthy. But did you know how many tomatoes your ketchup contains or is soy sauce as healthy as it is known to be? The high amount of sugar, salt and sodium in sauces make them unhealthy. Next time, try to prepare tomato ketchup at home to serve a healthy option to your kids.
The good old butter got a competition recently – margarine. Termed to be healthy and nutrition-packed, margarine is actually not a very healthy option. Ghee or clarified butter is a better option.
Unlike butter, margarine is not a pure dairy product but a synthetic mix of chemicals and sugar with only little amount of dairy in it. On top of that, it is loaded with trans-fat. Choose butter over margarine if you desire to include healthy in your diet. Butter is loaded with Vitamins, minerals and several nutrients but do not overboard with it.
5. Instant Meals
Nowadays, advertisements of many unhealthy and instant meals are targeted towards kids. Take for example instant oats and instant oats noodles. Well, oats is a healthy option. And the beauty about oats is that it does not take much time to prepare.
However, when you select instant oats over regular oats, then you are making a grave mistake. Most of the instant meals are not healthy at all. They are loaded with sugar and salt and even a whole lot of preservatives. Another example is instant soup. Soups are very easy to prepare. However, when you choose instant soups, your body intakes preservatives and dried vegetables that are not healthy as compared to fresh soups loaded with veggies.
6. Green Pastas
The moment they screamed that they now have introduced spinach pastas, you were elated, right? However, those green colored pastas do not have enough spinach in them. They do not fulfill the vegetable requirement of your kids, however much the companies claim. Instead, it is required that you should add spinach and other veggies to regular whole wheat pasta for a healthy meal. This way your requirement of vitamins, minerals, iron and fiber for your body is assured.
7. Trail Mix
Your doctor has advised you to consume almonds, peanuts, puffed rice and such snacks. You thought of mixing them on your own but what’s this – the mix is readily available. Plus, it seems quite tasty, thanks to colorful packaging. Who knew that snacks could be delicious and nutritious at the same time! If you are thinking on these lines too, then you are wrong here.
Trail mix available in super stores is something to make a fool out of you. It is loaded with all the wrong things – salt, sugar, sodium. On top of that, it is quite expensive too. On the contrary, the one that you will prepare at home will have right ingredients and that too, without any preservatives or artificial flavors.
I will divulge a secret here. The chips fooled me too, just like you. As my tot didn’t eat fruits, I thought feeding her with banana chips will be a good option. However, I was so wrong here. No matter what, chips do not have the same nutrition as the actual food or vegetable. While regular vegetables and fruits versions are loaded with nutrients, vitamins, minerals and others, their chips version are stripped of all of it, thanks to the frying process.
9. Baked Beans
And whatever is baked is termed as healthy by me. I was again proved wrong over here. Baked beans are not very healthy, as advertised to be. Along with beans, a tin of baked beans also contains sugar, additional salt, syrup, etc. It shoots up your calorie intake instantly.
10. Multi-Grain Bakery Foods
Did you realize that multi-grain does not contain just whole grains? They might or might not contain refined flours, which is exactly why you do not opt for white bread. Instead of relying on the title of the product, please make sure to read the behind of the pack. They might be advertised as seven grain, but the quantity of the seven grains in proportion to the main ingredient – refined wheat flour is questionable.
11. Packaged Juices
I used to be a lazy lady. If asked to prepare a glass of juice, even in a food processor, I resorted to lame excuses. This prompted my husband to switch to packaged juices. They are convenient, healthy and do not require any kind of hard work. In addition, they are very delicious.
However, these juices are loaded with sugar. Even regular fresh juices are not as healthy as whole fruits. This is because juicing strips the fruit of fiber and other nutrients present in the skin. Packaged juices are not quite healthy, contain artificial sweeteners at times and are even high in calories in general. Instead, try preparing smoothies at home. They are quite easy to prepare in comparison to juices. Plus, smoothies have complete fruit as smoothies do not require sieving.
12. Fruit-Based Products
Just like readymade fruit juices, ready-to-eat fruit yoghurts and puddings might not contain as much fruit as you think or as the marketers claim. On top of that, these foods might be high in sugar and calories as well. If you really love fruit yoghurts, prepare it at home. This way, you can be assured of ingredients as well.
13. Sports Drinks
First things first – Sports drinks are meant for those who are actually involved in strenuous sports. If you think that by sweating out in sun while waiting for your girlfriend to return from the store requires a sports drink, then you are wrong here. While sports drinks are advertised as elixirs, they are just loaded with sugar with some added nutrients. Yes, they rehydrate sportspersons but not regular people who think that standing under the sun deserves a sports drink.
14. Low Fat Dairy
Dairy products that claim that they are low in fat or have no fat at all are actually not healthy. This is because foods that claim to be low-fat are stripped of all the nutrients. In fact, to compensate the natural flavor of the food, makers add other unhealthy ingredients to such products, which is all the more bad. Low-fat product might be high in calories as well. If you are consuming full-fat products as a meal, then they are more satiating. Such foods even provide you with complete nutrition as well. They might even lead to planned weight loss unlike readily available low fat foods.
15. Diet Sodas
Aha! The word diet makes sure that my ‘dieting’ continues. But, are you aware about how much of diet-friendly these sodas actually are? Diet sodas are advertised as drinks that contain zero-calorie. These sodas actually have artificial sweeteners in them, which are quite harmful for health. It might lead you to obesity instead, according to health studies conducted.
16. Artificial Sweeteners
The problem with artificial sweeteners is that they do not behave like natural sweeteners when they reach your system. Whereas natural sweeteners satiate your sugar cravings, artificial ones do not activate the pathways present in the brain. At times, people actually have increased sugar cravings after consuming artificial sweeteners. So, while you need to cut out on sugary stuff, you also need to cut out on the dependency on artificial sweeteners. I have an idea here. You can replace sugar with honey or maple syrup. But, do not go overboard with these two as well.
17. Soy Protein
Tasting like meat, soy protein became an easy alternative for people who are vegetarian. However much protein they contain, they are not saved from being labeled as unhealthy. This is because not every soy product is healthy. While tofu is a whole soy food, soy protein isolate is not. Further, soy protein foods have phytic acid present in them. This hinders the absorption of minerals by your body. Hence, choose soy protein products wisely.
18. Nutrition Bars
Why are these bars in this list? They are termed to be healthy and actually satiate my hunger. However, not all bars that are labeled as nutrition bars are clean bars – read healthy bars.
They are loaded with sugar, plain chocolate and are even high in calories at times. For some, they are a convenient option as to grabbing a meal while on the go. However, parents should not consider such bars as an alternative to actual nuts. People should make a habit of reading the labels before putting anything in their cart. If you are fond of nutrition bars, prepare one at home by using fresh ingredients.
19. Flavored Soy Milk
Yes, soy milk is definitely healthy. But, here I am throwing some light on flavored soy milk; in fact, even flavored cow milk. You might be handing over ready-to-sip tiny tetra packs of flavored soy milk to your kids, thinking that the nutrition requirement of the day is met.
However, the level of nutrition that you think is not met by such flavored milk. In order to make soy milk taste good, the manufacturers add a variety of essences, flavors and tons of sugar. This ultimately minimizes the nutrition of the soy milk, which was advertised in the first place. Such flavored soy milks are even laden with unnecessary calories. I do not mean that chuck soy milk all together. I just mean that if you are health conscious, then flavor the milk on your own, rather than purchasing the packaged one.
This topic deserves a full-fledged post. Recently, edible oil companies have been claiming the presence of phytosterols. They are said to lessen blood cholesterol in your system. However, the catch here is that phytosterols might lead to cardiovascular ailments instead of preventing them.
I have tons of products to include in this list. But I can very well understand that reading everything at one go and remembering it at the same time is quite tiring, uninteresting and taxing for you. Hence, I put an end to this post here and will add a new one later.
However, please understand the message of this post. Do not be fooled by advertisers, especially, when it comes to health, food and nutrition. Eating fresh and homemade is the best bet. Make sure that you develop healthy habits in your kids as well. Do not develop a habit of giving them whatever they want without researching about the product or reading the labels at the back. You should even teach your kids to do that. Further, also do not get fooled by free gifts available with the products. Enough of sermon now, happy munching folks!