I commonly hear people say ‘I don’t need a dietitian – I know how to eat healthy and what I should be doing’. For the most part, many people do have a good idea of what foods are good for them and what foods are not as good. However, many people are surprised to hear that their seemingly perfect daily routines actually have some room for improvement. Many foods are marketed as being amazing for our health when in actual fact there are far better options out there. However, so many people over consume these wonder items, thereby having more sugar and energy than they actually need for their daily intake.
Sometimes a dieititian can be helpful in pointing out the shortcomings of these items. People can also do this on their own by learning how to analyse product labels and then looking critically at the choices they are making – particularly if they are packaged items. Not just looking at the nutrient information panel but also the ingredients list.
Firstly, it should be pointed out that all vegetables, fruits, grains and so on have amazing health benefits. You do not need to eat the latest superfoods in order to obtain all of your required nutrients and more. In fact, those items without the superfood label won’t come with the same hefty price tag. There is no regulation over the term ‘superfood’ and therefore no definition or criteria that a product has to fulfil. Basically, anyone can use the term and the sales of that item will likely sky rocket.
Common meal and beverage examples in the token healthy diet
Juices, smoothies and health seem to go hand in hand. So many people include freshly squeezed juice in their day to get a hit of vitamins and minerals, to boost immunity, to detox, to stay toned, to improve skin – because that’s what they’re advertised to do so it must be true, right?
The truth is that it is much cheaper and more beneficial to our health if we simply eat the piece of fruit and have a glass of water. Why?
- Many juices and smoothies remove a lot of the fruit e.g. skin and pulp – this also removes a lot of the nutrients that you would otherwise get from eating it.
- Often many pieces of fruit go into making just one juice (particularly in some of those giant juices!). There is a reason we are recommended to have just 2 pieces of fruit per day. Having a juice can therefore be a very concentrated hit of natural sugars in one sitting.
- Frequently gelato, frozen yoghurt, ice cream, bottled fruit juice and other additions go in to making smoothies or fruit crushes and this can also increase the sugar content. The frozen yoghurt may be advertised as fat free but do you know its sugar content? Or how many additional kilojoules it will be providing?
- Eating the fruit is generally more filling than having its equivalent in juice – this can help to maintain a healthy weight.
- All of those health benefits that juice companies claim to provide can in fact come from just eating your fruits and vegetables. In fact, this is a more effective way to do it.
How much sugar is in a popular brand of 450ml (medium) juice?
56.7g – this is equivalent to 14 teaspoons of sugar!!!
The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends that adults within a healthy weight range should consume no more than 25g of sugar in a day – approximately 6 teaspoons . A juice like the one above (a standard option) would therefore give you over double your requirements in just one item, assuming most people also get additional sugars throughout the day.
A popular brand of vitamin or nutrient water contains 32g of sugar = 8 teaspoons of sugar. Drinking plain water will not only be free of kilojoules but it will also forgo the sugar! Truth be told, a bottle of this water probably won’t increase your focus or help you fend off a cold – like they claim. However, eating healthy will!
Coconut waters have really taken off! However, just one 250ml tetra of coconut water contains almost 3 teaspoons of sugar. Not to mention some people have more than one per day. Why not ditch the sugary drink and opt for water, again. You’ll also save yourself some kilojoules and money that you can use on nutritious foods instead.
Acai bowls, chia puddings and similar trendy dishes
Whilst elements of these dishes are healthy on their own, many cafes add their own touches that can significantly increase the sugar content e.g. juice, granola and honey. It’s always best to make it yourself and then you can control what goes in.
Contact us for results focused nutritional advice
This article was written by our dietitian Belinda Elwin who is a Dietitians Association of Australia member and Accredited Practising Dietitian and Nutritionist. If you have questions about healthy eating, make an appointment. We‘ll provide you with a simple and effective routine targeted to your concerns. Contact us today.