Thursday, July 30, 2009

Fake food

I was in the supermarket the other day, and I was struck by the huge number of new “healthy” products on the shelves. Low-carb this, gluten free that, low-fat everything. I picked up a few and read the nutrition panels, especially the ingredients list. It was no surprise that most of these foods had all sorts of additives, artificial sweeteners and chemicals featuring pretty prominently. It always disturbs me when ingredients don’t even have names, just numbers.

I’m not overly fond of imitation foods. You know the kind I mean: “healthy” versions of favourite calorie-laden treats, made with a whole lot of artificial ingredients. Other than my whey protein, which contains an artificial sweetener, I mostly avoid those sorts of foods. For one thing, they don’t usually taste very good, and besides, I’d rather eat real, unprocessed food most of the time than fill up on nutritionally valueless imitation crap.

I know that many people like Skinny Cow ice creams, or various protein bars, or low-fat, low-carb wraps. Me, I find that particular ice cream has a nasty aftertaste, most commercial protein bars either taste bad or are filled with trans-fats and other icky stuff, and as for those low-carb breads….I may as well be eating shoe leather.

Luckily I can usually find room in my week for the real deal when it comes to treats. If I want raisin toast, I’ll have it. A scoop of Baskin-Robbins choc-PB ice cream is almost my idea of heaven – without the cone, it’s a decent but not obscene 324 calories, which I can fit into my day, no problem. And a small amount of 85% cocoa chocolate goes a long, long way.

If I find myself eyeing off the wares at Muffin Break, I keep in mind that 700 Calories is almost half my day’s allowance if I’m on a fat-loss mission. That turns me off pretty quickly. Instead, I save myself for a 300 Cal Chocolate Dream from Brown’s bakery (which is far more delicious anyway). Or a 35g bar of Green & Black’s Maya Gold.

When it comes to making my own food, my tastes have really changed over the past few years. I rarely want a super-sweet meal, finding that adding fruit to my pancakes gives them plenty of sweetness. I don’t feel the need to eat pasta, bread or potatoes with every evening meal, and when I do, it’s a much smaller serving than I used to have. I like the sourness of natural yoghurt and cottage cheese. There’s almost nothing I’d rather eat for breakfast than rolled oats cooked in water, with some whey added. I’ve become more adventurous with my veggies, adding quite a number to my regular menu that I previously hadn’t tried. And the quantities of veg that I get through still astounds my family. Oh, and I drink my tea and coffee black and unsweetened.

But all of that didn’t just happen. It took a lot of perseverance to get to this point and in some cases, numerous attempts before I could stomach some things. But I made small changes and then more small changes and kept building on them until one day – wow! I found that I’d achieved total nutrition overhaul.

There’s food and there’s food ….I know that there are a billion studies that conclude that when it comes to weight loss, total calorie intake/output is the only thing that matters. But that simply isn’t true. There’s a big difference between eating 1500 calories worth of complete rubbish and the same calorie value in good, whole foods, with a bit of attention paid to ratios of protein, carbs and fat. Sure, eating under your calorie threshold will take you a certain distance, but for most of us at some point, it’s going to get a bit more complicated.

And as the saying goes, Rubbish in = rubbish out.


Unknown said...

I'm with you on the Skinny Cows - I really don't think they taste like icecream. If I feel like something like that I would much rather have the real deal.

Kathryn said...

Wise words. This is something I've really started noticing lately. I used to buy all the low-calorie treat foods but they are so unsatisfying. You end up eating more too because you think - that's only 100 calories, I can have another one!

Same with stuff like low fat cheese etc. Blerk!

Raechelle said...

DOUBLE KUDOS FOR REAL FOOD! I'm so with you on this!
Frankly, skinny cow gave me gas when I tried it....yuck
I eat that kind of stuff so rarely-make it the real deal for me...frozen yogurt or real ice cream thank you!

And yep....real veg, real egg, real chicken....REAL FOOD! yay!

Charlotte Orr said...

Great post Kek - I'm with you too!

Trixie said...

What a great post! I think it's REALLY important to eat food you enjoy..not just eat something that is "seemingly healthy" just because it has less calories etc.
I agree with you on the low carb bread..YUCK!

Erika said...

I'm lucky I don't crave sweet things like chocolate, can't honestly remember the last time I had it, but I also don't have it in the fridge - all or nothing sound familiar - bad trait I'm working on. Watched a choc mud cake being sliced up yesterday, didn't want any. But you are right about eating good real food, so much better, however my problem has been portion control of good food. All or nothing again - that's what I'm working on now. Great post.

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