Today I am going to start a series of blogs titled how to be a smart buyer. This series would consist of tips and tricks of how to buy healthy foods, products at fair prices. With the help of this series, I also intend to clear SO MUCH of confusion there is regarding food companies and if they are ‘trying to sell us poison’ as some people would have you believe. These blogs would also feature grocery store items which you should buy, should not buy, and are okay to buy sometimes at the departmental stores.
This particular blog focuses on five labels(/products) which you should not buy and why is that so. Just to clear, this isn’t a list of ‘five most unhealthiest foods’ or any such list, but simply a list of products I found at the supermarket and felt should let people know if they are healthy or not. Especially those products which look a bit healthy but in reality are not. I felt five is a good number to explain but not overwhelm the readers at the same time in a single blog. Over time I will write more of similar blogs featuring different products.
What is my criteria of judgement?
It’s simple. I have looked at sugar levels, percentage of nutrition coming from sugars, various kinds of sugar (sugar goes by over 50 names) kind of fats, amount of processed/synthetic nutrients. You can find out about the general guidelines to look for before buying here. The ingredients usually as a rule are mentioned in decreasing quantity of how much of it is in a particular product and if the bad ingredients are at the beginning, it would almost all the time indicate the product is unhealthy. Example 1 below will explain better.
As I have said in my blog on how to read labels, I would like to repeat myself by mentioning that to a large extent, foods being called healthy/unhealthy depend upon how much they influence your hormones and what they do to the body (good and bad both kinds of impact) rather than how many calories are in a particular food. Hence I will not speak about calories anywhere because counting calories is a failed concept. Basically calorie system tells us a calorie is a calorie no matter where it comes from. Hence as per that logic, 100 calories of a cola drink and 100 calories of broccoli are equal, which you know sound insanely wrong on many levels. It doesn’t take a genius to debunk the calorie system (using seconds with the broccoli/cola analogy) and hence I am not going to use that for comparison or analysis of anything.
- Cream biscuit with jam inside them:
First one in the list is a simple to judge product (to show how you can also find out easily how healthy or unhealthy a product is). It’s a cream biscuit which we know is full of sugar. But let’s analyse the other ingredients. In addition to massive amounts of sugar, this product contains refined wheat flour (will cause insulin spike), vegetable oil (trans and omega six fats), vegetable fat (again the same), invert syrup (another name for sugar), dextrose (another name for sugar), edible starch (another name for sugar), maltodextrin (worse on glycemic index scale than sugar), fruit products (traces and still sugar). As ingredients in the beginning mentioned are very unhealthy (though this has NO healthy ingredients), it means this is a clearly unhealthy product. Moreover it also has synthetic flavours. So clearly it’s an unhealthy product and shouldn’t be on the grocery list. Find out how to handle sugar withdrawal symptoms and replace foods during sugar withdrawal here and get off this biscuit and other sugars completely. Verdict: Unhealthy.
2. Healthy biscuits which aid in ‘digestion’:
This biscuit has more than half of wheat flour followed by vegetable oil (again, omega six fats), wholemeal wheat flour (which only has the fibre, not the first wheat flour), sugar (not looking good), partially inverted sugar syrup (another name for sugar), raising agents which again are too many. It has only carbs (which will spike insulin), direct sugars, indirect sugars, little or no nutrients, and empty nutrition. Hence it is not close to being healthy. If you want to read what happens why digestion goes wrong and how to improve it, please read my blog on kefir here. Verdict: Unhealthy.
3. Weight loss cereal:
This product claims to make you lose 2 kilos or something in two weeks. Let’s see what it contains. Rice and Bran, both simple carbs, contain 60 per cent of the mass, followed by sugar. So clearly unhealthy. Then more bran and sugar is added to it in the name of liquid glucose. That is followed by synthetic vitamins and minerals and more malt (another carbs). Empty nutrition, high carbs, synthetic additions. Definitely a miss. Verdict: Unhealthy.
4. Infant formula:
This was an eye opening discovery for me. I never looked at this aisle because I don’t need a baby formula at home. So I picked a couple including this brand just for mentioning on my blogs how healthy/unhealthy this product is. I was shocked. Not one ingredient can be called healthy. On the contrary, all ingredients are unhealthy. Let’s analyse. Begins with lactose (sugar), skim milk powder (lean source of nutrition, not recommended), edible vegetable oil (unhealthy fats), whey powder concentrate (again simple proteins without fats, which are not ideal as lone proteins raise more insulin than proteins with fats in them), corn syrup solids (another name for sugar), minerals (synthetic), acidity regulators (synthetic), soy lecithin (never good for health because of many, many consequences-this in itself would require a blog) and taurine, which is found in energy drinks and also never recommended. Verdict: Unhealthy.
5. Baby formula:
Another shocker for me. This one is for ‘elder infants’. Let’s analyse. Second ingredient is maltodextrin which is worse than sugar, then vegetable oil (they have avoided the word vegetable), dried glucose syrup (another name for sugar), sugar, antioxidant (soy lecithin-as I mentioned this is very dangerous and should not be consumed by anyone), vitamins and minerals (synthetic), and preservatives. I can hardly see any nutrition in both this one and the above infant formula. All I can see is lean protein with sugars which will spike insulin levels, make the baby hungry frequently, and hooked up on these products and sugar from childhood. Verdict: Unhealthy.
From this list it should be clear that anyone trying to eat healthy, get healthier or lose weight should not consume these products.
Food for thought: With attractive packaging, so many hidden names of sugar, and many insulin spiking ingredients (which stimulate hunger for glucose and can make us sugar addicts), are we moving in a direction which would lead to increased obesity and childhood obesity? Is that one of the reasons why the rate of obesity is increasing and why diabetes now is a pandemic? Are children being target to get hooked up on sugar from an early stage in their lives? I think so. Do you? Please leave your comments below. If you liked reading, please like this blog or comment below to discuss.