Mindful Nutrition and Wellness

Jessica Miller, Holistic Health Coach

how “fat-free” is making you fat

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We often assume that fat-free= healthy because we think that dietary fat= body fat. This is a common misconception, so we reach for the “fat-free” products at the grocery store to prevent weight gain.  Unfortunately,  choosing fat-free products may actually do for you precisely what you don’t want them to do: make you fat.
Processed food manufacturers need to ensure you still like and buy their fat-free products, so when they take out the fat that makes the food taste so good, they have to compensate somewhere. So they add sugar.  Let’s look at an example.  Standard Chips Ahoy cookies contain approximately 160 calories, 8 grams of fat, and 11 grams of sugar for three cookies. This amounts to about 53 calories, 2.5 grams of fat, and 3.5 grams of sugar per 11 gram cookie.
CA label
Interestingly, in a 16 gram Snackwell’s cookie, there are 50 calories, 0 grams of fat and 7 grams of sugar. Nearly twice the sugar of a Chips Ahoy cookie. Surprising? Well, when you take the fat out of a Snackwells cookie, the flavor must be enhanced- and sugar does the trick. So which cookie is actually the healthier option?
SW label
SW front
Why care about sugar? Sugar is what really makes you fat.  Sugar consumption causes the release of insulin which tells the body how to process sugar. When more sugar is consumed than can be used, the sugar is stored as fat.  This is the process simply. We consume far more sugar- from fruits, grains, and vegetables alone than almost any of us would need for energy, therefore, eating foods with any added sugar is only contributing to added weight gain.
Sugar is hiding in so many foods, and especially behind the “fat-free” and “low-fat” labels. There is more sugar in skim/ fat-free milk, than whole milk.
4 grams of sugar is equivalent to one teaspoon.  One Snackwell’s cookie contains nearly 2 teaspoons of sugar- PER COOKIE.  I certainly do not eat just one when I get started on cookies, so we are likely to consume much more sugar than what’s contained in a single serving.
Yogurts are also a common place for added sugars. The Greek yogurt craze is a bit ironic because most of the yogurt on our shelves does not resemble true Greek yogurt. Instead, it contains added sugar and many other ingredients that are not found in natural yogurt. This yogurt contains nearly FOUR teaspoons of sugar in one 6 ounce container. But it’s NON-FAT. A good thing? Unlikely.
CB frontCB label
What’s important to keep in mind here is that you must read food labels. Know what you’re eating. Processed food and especially those foods marketed as “healthy,” “natural,” “fat-free,” and “low-fat” often have a catch. Be a smart consumer and don’t get trapped by marketing schemes. Eat real food over packaged food. Learn more by checking out this book.

Author: Mindful Nutrition and Wellness

Holistic Health Coach, mindfulnutritionandwellness.com

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