Wednesday, April 21

Think Nutritionally, Not Healthy

I find it interesting that we insist on classifying foods as “healthy” and “unhealthy”. As if all food could be classified into 2 distinct categories of “eat” and “don’t eat.” That somehow cucumbers are something we eat and ice cream is something we don’t eat.

On one hand, it would be nice if food were so black and white. It would certainly make choosing what to eat easier. However, wouldn’t we just be miserable if we just never ate the foods that we classify as unhealthy? Let’s be honest—none of us choose not to eat foods because we think of them as unhealthy. But we do make many choices about what we think we should eat based on what we think is healthy.

I’m sure you’ve stood in the cereal aisle and reached for your favorite sugar cereal. Then you change your choice and grab a box of granola because you think you should be eating healthy and you’ve classified granola as a healthy food in your mind. Wait! Turn that box over and give the nutritional information a good look over! I’ll bet you didn’t realize there’s so much sugar in most granola cereals that in half a cup you’ll be eating close to 40 grams of carbohydrates and only 5 grams of protein. Hmmm. From what we learned about carbohydrates, if you eat a bowl of this cereal (which I guarantee you will be more than half a cup of cereal), then you’ll be hungry again and looking for something sweet in no time.

So, unless you plan on accompanying this bowl of granola with some cottage cheese or a cup of greek yogurt, then a bowl of granola is not your best option for breakfast.

Uh oh. Does that mean granola is actually unhealthy? No! Granola has great value in breakfast—as long as you pair it with some protein and heart-healthy fats. I would go so far as to say most all foods have great nutritional value—as long as you are being smart in how you balance them in your diet.

There are some foods we can leave in the “unhealthy” category: any foods with trans fats, for example. And there are obviously foods that have a greater nutritional value than other foods: whole grain wheat versus refined wheat, for example.

But let’s pull ourselves out of our black and white thinking and begin to be aware of the nutrition in our foods and how to build them into a diet that keeps us healthy for life!


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