2.11.16

Are the Well-Marketed Health Foods Making You Fitter or Fatter?

Are the Well-Marketed Health Foods Making You Fitter or Fatter?
by guest blogger Ekta Chawla, mother of a toddler and founder of www.confusedparent.in, a platform that connects parents and experts.

No more paranthas.
Only cornflakes for breakfast.
No more full fat milk.
Only soya milk every morning.
No more sweets.
Only zero-calorie artificial sweeteners in desserts.
No more cola.
Only diet cola at a movie break.

And yet children are overweight! Juvenile diabetes and childhood obesity are rising at an alarming rate. Feeding children, tweens and teens has never been easy. And the shift from regular snacking options to healthier ones takes enormous effort. Yet, there is no marked difference. In fact, the change in food habits is doing more bad than good. So what is going wrong?

The truth is, marketers manipulate and sell products that are highly profitable. It’s all just an advertising gimmick and the artificial foods sold do more harm than good to your system. Let’s try to understand this by looking at some of the common foods you relish.

Cornflakes
I remember as a kid, cornflakes were my favourite snack. I would eat them as soon as I came back from school or for breakfast when it was a quick fix for my mother who was overloaded with work on some days. Cornflakes and cold milk with finely chopped bananas and apples along with a handful of almonds and grapes made for as heavenly a breakfast as you could imagine. But little did I know the truth. Many cornflakes brands are loaded with sugar and corn syrup that contains very high amounts of fructose. While you end up over-eating cornflakes since they are considered to be a healthy option, it makes you more prone to obesity and diabetes (because obesity causes resistance to insulin production). The high glycemic index in cornflakes promotes fat storage, which only adds to the layers of fat on your tummy.

Soya Milk
Soya is often marketed as a superfood with substantial health benefits. It is one of the major sources of proteins if you are a vegan, but everything else is white lies. Soya milk can also turn out to be hazardous to health if it has not been fermented well. It can cause thyroid problems and hormonal imbalances (increased estrogen and decreased progesterone levels), thereby affecting fertility and most importantly, it may contain toxins, which act as anti-nutrients that can interfere with the absorption of essential vitamins and minerals in the body.

Artificial Sweeteners
As the word ‘artificial’ suggests, there is absolutely nothing natural and good about artificial sweeteners. Research has proved that our body processes everything natural. As the famous saying goes, “If it is made from a plant, eat it. If it is made at a plant, don’t.” The body understands the natural constituents of sugar and knows how to deal with them. On the contrary, artificial sweeteners are alien, almost like an enemy, and the body starts fighting against them. These artificial sweeteners are known to increase your appetite. Since one feels that they are free of calories, one also tends to consume a lot more than one would.

Diet Cola
Diet cola is possibly the worst beverage to consume, both for a child as well as an adult.  

Cola = high-fructose corn syrup + carbonated water + preservatives + caffeine + caramel colour + phosphoric acid 
Diet cola = all of the above + aspartame (artificial sweetener) – sugar (which is good) + citric acid + potassium benzoate

Diet cola may save you 100 calories and teeth decay, but the aspartame used in these fizzy drinks has been linked to cancer and neurological problems. The phosphoric acid contributes to leaching of calcium from the bones, thus causing osteoporosis. That apart, those who consume diet colas tend to snack a lot more and consume close to 28% more calories. A plethora of studies have even proved that diet soda increases the risk of heart attack by about 45 to 50% over a long period of time.

The same holds good for canned fruit juices. Looks can be deceptive and this is certainly true of canned juices, which are packed with calories. What’s more, when fruit is processed, it kills the phytonutrients, which shield you from various diseases, and also destroys the fibre, which is essential for weight loss.

Most foodies feel that ‘diet’ is another word for ‘die’ because a majority of the tasty things are unhealthy and hence forbidden. But all one needs to do is switch to normal, healthy foods that our grandparents used to eat—they were definitely healthier than us. Eat everything occasionally and in moderation. Make healthy choices, because children learn from what they see. Be their role model. They are great imitators so give them something great to imitate.


(Image courtesy Thinkstock)

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