But after a few months of working out like an Amazon woman and shopping for “healthy” food at Whole Paycheck, my scale still isn’t budging.
Which is why I called in the big guns: clinical nutritionist Stella Metsovas, BS, and registered dietitian Andrea N. Giancoli, RD. Here’s what they told me: Shopping at health food stores can be a dieter’s worst nightmare. Why? Because it can fool you into thinking everything is good for you — even when you know deep down that those organic oreos and artisan crackers are as fattening as the stuff that’s sold at Super Target.
If you have a gluten intolerance, that little “gluten-free” label can be a literal lifesaver. But if you don’t have a gluten intolerance, you’re really not doing yourself any favors by avoiding the ingredient. “Gluten-free does not equal healthier,” says Metsovas. “These products just replace wheat flour with brown rice flour, which isn’t much better for you.” She adds that many gluten-free products can be loaded with sugar and starch. “You’re getting tons of carbs, and very few nutrients, with these packaged foods,” says Metsovas.
In general, the convenient pre-made salads are healthy. The dressings, however, are another story. “Salad dressings can be filled with sugar,” says Metsovas. She’s spotted ones with up to 50 g in one serving! That’s bad as it is, but there’s another problem with a skimpy salad and sugary dressing. “Dressings with high sugar cause your blood sugar to spike, so you’ll be hungry and craving more sugar soon after you finish,” she says. If your only options are dressings with a lot of sugar in them (and you can’t eat your salad dry), Metsovas says you’re better off skipping the salad and grabbing a sandwich instead, since it’ll keep you feeling full for longer.
OK, maybe this one shouldn’t be too shocking, but Giancoli says, “a cookie can be vegan, but it’s still a cookie.” Translation: While that cookie may not have any butter or lard in it, it can still have plenty of fat (via vegetable oil) and sugar. Metsovas does concede that vegan or organic desserts are “technically healthier, since they typically contain fewer refined ingredients.” But, she adds, “you’ll still put on weight even if it’s natural fat and sugar.”
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