Our society has an “all or nothing” mindset when it comes to food. We either super-size something or look for the fat-free and sugar-free options. When people make the fat-free choice, they usually think they are ultimately being healthier. However, I’ve learned that’s not so much the case.
In fact, many low-fat packaged foods give you more than you bargained for. When people see “low-fat” on a label, they tend to actually eat more. Studies show that low-fat food labels lead all consumers to overeat because it increases the perceptions of the appropriate serving size and decreases consumption guilt. We’ve all been there. I know I have, especially with a box of Reduced Fat Cheez-Its®.
Well, fat-free definitely doesn’t mean it’s trouble-free.
Although foods that say they are fat-free do contain less than 0.5 grams of fat, they also tend to be taste-free and contain more sugar and carbs and the same amount of calories as regular food. Why? Think about it this way, if they take away the fat, they usually will add other ingredients and chemicals to make up for the lack of taste. That means more flour, sugar, thickeners and salt.
Rather than looking for fat-free foods, look for lower fat content and the types of fat in your food. Try to eat foods under 5 grams of fat to be heart-healthy and weight conscious. Healthy fats are unsaturated and can improve blood cholesterol levels. These include avocados and nuts (monounsaturated) and seeds and fish (polyunsaturated). Try to limit your intake of saturated fats, which include foods like red meat and dairy. These foods are beneficial in moderate amounts. You should try to completely avoid trans fats, which can worsen your bad cholesterol levels.
Eating food should be about its nutrition profile. Although some foods say “fat-free” on the label, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s healthy for you. Make sure to check out the nutrition label and look at the other contents, such as sugar content, carbs and calories. Don’t let the “fat-free” claim trick you into thinking you’re being healthier than you really are.