Monday, July 21, 2014

Your Paleo, gluten free, and vegan junk food is still junk food

News flash! If you take an organic potato, slice it paper thin, fry it in oil, and sprinkle it with sea's still a potato chip. If you grind up organic corn into meal, add some extra grains, and add some sweet's still a tortilla chip! It may have a few more nutrients or a few less additives, but that doesn't turn it into a healthy food.

Let me take a step back and just admit that I ate a little bag of "Simply Sweeet Potato Corn Tortilla Chips." My point is not to say NEVER eat tortilla chips. My point is that just because the label says stuff like gluten free, non-GMO, organic or whole grain doesn't make it healthy or good for you.

Here's a great example I found on the ever popular PopSugar blog. Not suggesting you should go to this blog for all your health information, but this article certainly makes the point. Fittingly Mad: Multi-grain vs. Restaurant Style Tostitos. Here's a picture of the Nutrition Fact Panels she used in the comparison. For the same serving size, you do get 1 extra gram of fiber in the multigrain, but at the expense of an extra gram of sugar, 10 extra calories, and 15 mg of sodium. If you are going to eat chips and salsa it probably doesn't matter which one you choose. Just don't be fooled into thinking you are eating healthier. You are still eating chips and salsa.

Here's a fun one: Earth Balance Vegan Cheddar Flavor Squares. They are "Free from dairy, trans fat and GMO’s, these plant-based cheddary flavored crackers are made with the finest finger-licking ingredients we could find." Here are some of the finger-licking good ingredients: maltodextrin, yeast extract, gum acacia, natural flavor, palm oil, sunflower lecithin, baking soda, monocalcium phosphate, ammonium bicarbonate, sugar, paprika oleoresin color, yeas extact, annatto extract, lactic acid, dehydrated toasted onion, and garlic powder.

I'm glad there's a yummy option for those who follow a vegan diet, but I just saw someone tweet the other day something about healthy snacks and had a pictures of these crackers. Vegan yes...tastey yes...healthy maybe not so much.

Just for comparison, here is the ingredient list for Cheese-It crackers. Almost the same except for the actual cheese part. More calories and fat for fewer crackers, but I would still argue that neither is a healthy option. I happen to really like Cheese-Its. Nothing in particular against cheese crackers. Just pointing out that the Vagan option isn't really a healthy option either.

You could do this comparison for so many foods. Paleo brownies are still brownies, and I'm pretty sure brownies were not invented in paleolithic times. Just saying.You can make your own ranch dressing mix from scratch and skip the preservatives, but if you really want to make a health impact shouldn't you just skip the ranch dressing? Between Pinterest and Twitter, it's pretty clear that marketers have suckered so many people into thinking they are making a healthy or at least healthier choice. It's a bit sad. I'm still going to have some chips now and again, but let's just take a minute to remind ourselves that junk food is junk food and should be limited. Don't justify it just because it's got chia seeds in it or has a earthy looking label. Think twice, enjoy junk every now and again, but for the love of pete...remember that you aren't helping your body out by eating tortilla chips. Doesn't matter if they are wholegrain, have chia seeds, are gluten free, or non-gmo. Eat some fruit if you really want a healthy snack that will do your body some good.

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