Eat this, not that? Eat that, not this? Well, which one is it?
Recently in the news, popular restaurant chains and food companies such as Panera Bread, Chipolte, McDonalds, Nestle, PepsiCo, Kraft, and Hershey (to name a few) have decided to modify some their menus and food offerings to meet their consumer demands. Panera, the most recent to be added to this list, has made plans to drop a long list of ingredients from their menu by 2016. Some of these include artificial sweeteners and preservatives.
Consumers are starting to wise up and are really questioning what’s in their food and where it comes from. Food companies are hearing this loud and clear. You will notice a change in original Cheerios which will no longer contain GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms). PepsiCo which will no longer be using aspartame in their Diet Pepsi, they will now be using sucralose to sweeten the fizzy drink. The Original Blue Box, Kraft Macaroni and Cheese, will no longer use artificial colorings to get that distinct yellow color. They will be using spices such as paprika and turmeric to get the signature look. McDonalds has made a commitment to not sell any food items that contains chicken that has been treated with human antibiotics (which many of us probably had no idea they were doing anyway). The list goes on and you can expect that list to continue to grow.
Kudos to them! Many times we find ourselves needing to grab a bite on the run and it is good to know that the places we have been going to for years are making changes for the better.
With all of this said, you must still proceed with caution…. Your burrito from Chipolte may not contain GMO’s or the Hershey bar you are going to grab may not contain high fructose corn syrup, BUT this does not mean that it is magically calorie or sugar free. These products, although they are made with ingredients that you can feel a little better about, could still do a number on your health. This has become tricky for many of us because these companies have done a great job of taking buzz words that we associate with good health and slap them on a product that may not actually be good for our health. Non GMO, Gluten Free, and No Artificial Colors or Flavors, are just a few of these labels. The rules of moderation do not get to be thrown out the window just because your favorite soda is now made with “real sugar”. It is still soda.
Bottom line… Be cautious of the ingredients in the food you are eating, and keep them simple. Proceed with caution when you see buzzwords like no artificial colors or sweeteners because those foods could still contain high amounts of unhealthy fats, sugars, etc.
Simple Substitute of the week: Substitute one of your favorite snack foods that has a list of ingredients you cannot pronounce for a snack that has only ingredients you CAN pronounce. Check out the recipe below for peanut butter dip! It is one of my favorite when I am in a hurry. This quick snack that has simple real ingredients. It is loaded with calcium and protein and is sure to get you to your next meal. You can feel good about the ingredients that go in it as well! Keep moderation in mind. The recipe below is for one serving and is the perfect amount for a snack. Pair this dip with an apple, a handful or strawberries or even a few pretzels.
Peanut Butter Dip (serves 1)
- ¼ cup non-fat vanilla yogurt (or non-fat plain yogurt with vanilla extract added, about 1 tsp)
- 1 TBSP Creamy all natural peanut butter
- 1 tsp honey
Stir all ingredients together and enjoy!
Nutrients: 160 calories, 9 grams of Fat, 13 grams carb, 7.5 grams protein