A while ago I wrote about the issues surrounding sugar free food and how the artificial sweeteners used to replace normal sugar could be causing more problems for our health (If you haven’t seen this article or would like to read it again then click here).
But is this an issue just for our sugar consumption?
In a drive to be more healthy, or in response to a growing number of food sensitivities, more and more of us are opting to choose to eliminate certain foods and ingredients from our diets, and the food industry is responding to the increasing demand with a greater range of ‘Free From’ and ‘natural’ products – gluten free, sugar free, free from artificial preservatives, using only natural flavourings, organic ……. the list goes on.
But is all quite how it would seem?
Take a look at the ingredient list of any of these commercially produced products and you will no doubt see a number (or many!) items which sound less than healthy, or are a complete mystery as to what they actually are. When the amount of sugar, fat and gluten, for instance, is reduced or removed completely from the product then the manufacturers have to find something else to replace them with; something that is going to produce the same flavour, and something that is relatively cheap (despite the fact that these healthier options are usually the more expensive ones).
And, you’ve guessed it, these alternative ingredients are often chemically produced, GMO versions or other ingredients that you wouldn’t necessarily want to be eating more of – refined carbohydrates, for example.
Even a ‘natural’ product can fall foul of industry interference.
The word ‘natural’ has very little regulation with regards to food so can, in fact, be applied to anything. Many so called ‘natural flavourings’, for instance, have never seen the food stuff they are supposed to be the flavour of, but are, instead, a laboratory produced chemical compound. (Hint: if something that is relatively inexpensive is vanilla flavoured then it is more than likely far from natural as vanilla is a very expensive ingredient!).
And organic is not necessarily a guarantee of a chemical free product.
I recently tested a so called organic green tea for a client and found it to be full of chemicals and pesticides.
So if even these perceived ‘healthier’ options are bad for us how do we get a better diet?
The problem lies in the fact that these health related products are often, in themselves, processed, and as such, by their very nature, will be made from ingredients that are not the best.
The easiest and most effective way to eat better is to simply make as many of your meals as you can from scratch, using simple, fresh ingredients as far as possible. This way you can have far more confidence about what it is you are actually eating, and, if you do choose to go ‘Free From’ certain food stuffs, that the alternatives you consume are not as bad as those you are trying to avoid!