Let the Buyer Beware?
“Looks can be deceiving.” “The devil comes disguised as an angel of light.” “Watch for the wolf in sheep’s clothing.” How many aphorisms have been written warning us to beware of deception? It is one thing to knowingly choose something that is harmful for our health; for example, I must be accountable for the years of binge eating & its detrimental effects on my body. But to eat something in which we perceive to be healthy when we are told by “Big Advertising” and “Big Food” that it is when it is in fact not, it is separate matter. It is outright deceitful & manipulative!
Lambs to the Slaughter
Simply put, “Big Food’s” sole raison d’etre is to manipulate us into buying their product…to separate our wallet from us…in exchange for their product. They don’t care about our health…even companies who peddle products that explicitly say they do, don’t care either. So the fact we know that they are manipulating us, does that take us off the hook for responsibility? No, if we are literate, the onus falls on us to read the labels and educate ourselves as to the effects that all food products have on our body. But let’s face it…it is hard to ward off the manipulative “food porn” advertisements with the dripping pizza and scrumptious food-scientist-manicured hamburgers in all the commercials. And the growing epidemic of obesity and chronic diseases illustrates that we are in fact not doing a good job of shunning these toxic foods.
False Prophets of Superfoods
So to shed light on the demons lurking in the corner trying to lead us to “destruction” we at Naturopathic Earth plan to shine light on items that deceptively boast a large amount of sugar though one would think otherwise. Sugar is highly addictive to the brain, and it mixed with salt and fat leads to what food scientists called the “bliss point” where our brain goes into a frenzy of craving more of that food items. So no cookies, pastries, cereals cakes, sodas, or even the hallow Unicorn Frappuccino on this list. Those are too obvious! So let’s go over some sugar-laden superfoods.
Either in the form of Luna or Cliff, these bars are sold as “healthy” simply because they might have added protein for the muscle-bound lifters. Even with the added protein, they still boast tons of carbs, food dyes, & preservatives. Even watch out for those that are low in sugar. Read the ingredient list, you will likely see Sucralose (Splenda) or Acesulfame Potassium, two pernicious artificial sweeteners. Also, know that excess protein intake is converted to sugar in the body so unless you are lifting 3 hours a day stay away from the 6 chicken breasts-a day-diet. Most Americans consume too much protein as it is (look at the entrees at restaurants). So the next time you are at the gym smack that protein bar out of that gym rats hand!
- Don’t eat any breakfast or protein bars at all! All are processed and have varying degrees of toxicity.
(Read our article on the 3 biggest food additives that are toxic.)
Now, condiments are not pretending to be great for your health, but I wanted to mention them since they are so omnipresent. Whether it be ketchup, honey mustard, barbecue sauce, creamy salad dressings or the assortment of tangy dips you may dip your fries in at fast food establishments & restaurants, they are loaded with sugar. Not to mention inflammatory vegetable oils & food dyes. Why do you think they are so addictive!
- Stick to mustard and salsa as the paragon of condiments. These are not sugar-laden superfoods, just great condiments to put on your meat and veggies.
I doubt yogurts are very surprising to see on this list, but parents still believe that yogurt is necessary for children due to its calcium content. (The same reason they still purchase milk & other dairy products.) In truth, dairy offers a meager amount of Vitamin D and calcium. (How about some leafy greens? Even coconut milk offers double the calcium and Vitamin D than cow’s milk.) It offers high amount of lactose, which is hypoallergenic and possibly carcinogenic.
But Greek Yogurt is the exception to the norm vis-a-vis dairy because of its low lactose levels and its probiotic content. (Listen to our podcast about the importance of probiotics.) Dannon & Yoplait know that you know this so they offer savory fruit-flavored Greek yogurt with granola and chocolate chips on top. One cup of flavored yogurt offers as much sugar as a soda.
- Choose full-fat unflavored Greek Yogurt and add cinnamon and berries for flavor.
- Stay away from calorie and sugar-laden granola and even the sacrosanct honey.
Low-percentage and flavored dark chocolate
It pains me to put dark chocolate on this list lest my Naturopathic Citizens must be warned. Most chocolate labeled as “dark chocolate” (here called DC) is 50-60% cocoa. Most people know that DC is good for you and Nestle, Lindt, and alike know that you know that so they label any non-milk chocolate as “dark chocolate” so you will grab for it. The issue is that most DC is saddled with excess sugar, both from the low cocoa content but the orange, blueberry, and raspberry flavor added to it. Most DC bars have two servings per bar. Each serving of these aforementioned impostor bars boast anywhere from 15-25 grams of sugar per serving. So a whole bar is 40-50 grams. You might be saying, “Gregory, DC is so filling I can’t eat a whole bar!” Yes, you can my friends, especially when they have taken the cocoa out and put in more sugar.
- DC boast a myriad of health benefits (high in the “good fats,” polyphenols, catechins, anti-oxidants, etc.), but you must stick to UNFLAVORED 90% DC which only boast 5 grams of sugar. And those bars you can’t eat the whole thing. Don’t be deceived!!
- Try Green & Blacks unflavored dark chocolate. They are my favorite brand. For a cheaper alternative sample Lindt 90% DC. Both brands have no soy lecithin which are pretty ubiquitous in lower-grade DC.
Certain fruits in themselves are already problematic due to their high glycemic index (e.g. pineapple, grapes, ripened bananas), but when you morph them into the Frankenfood that is dried fruit it is “diabetes in a Whole Foods bin bag.”
(Read our article on most-nutrient dense fruits.)
- Stay away from all the Craisins, dried apricots, bananas and alike. And most egregiously since they are in fashion right now,
- Stay away from the dark chocolate-covered pomegranates, blueberries, and alike so well-marketed at wholesale stores.
Flavored Nut Butters
We are not talking about naturally-made almond or cashew butter crushed by the nut machine right in front of you at grocery stores. We are talking about the flavored nut butters like Justin’s Cookie Dough Peanut Butter, Sugar Cookie Peanut Butter, Honey Nut Butter, and alike. The most egregious of all would be Nutella (just ask Kelly Clarkson. Hazelnuts are the 4th ingredients behind sugar and vegetable oil. At least the other flavored ones have nuts 1st or 2nd.) Don’t be deceived. Nuts are an incredible source of nutrition when eaten sensibly. “Big Food” puts in the flavors to override the sensible, rational part of your brain to force you to make insensible, rash decisions.
- Stick to cashew or almond butter.
- Of course stay away from any source of peanut butter, even the organic ones due to peanuts hypoallergenic and inflammatory issues. (Not to mention the tranfats.)
(Read our article on nut toxins and nut soaking.)
Flavored Non-Dairy Milk Alternatives
Speaking of nuts, non-dairy milk alternatives, such as almond milk, have gained popularity in the last 10 years as the hypoallergenic, inflammatory, and possible carcinogenic effects of it have entered the zeitgeist. Flavored non-dairy alternatives have 9-10x more sugar than the unflavored varieties. Granted, unflavored “milk” is pretty unpalatable unless you blend it into smoothies so it is understandable why it is done. This is the main reason why they put sugar in it in the first place.
- Stick to the most nutrient-dense hemp or coconut milk.
- Develop a palate for unflavored varieties and sweeten it independently using fruits, cinnamon, etc.
Kombucha, fermented tea, is a great probiotic drink replete with beneficial bacteria and fungus. (Read our article or listen to podcast on Probiotic Foods to see how a diet high in fermented foods improves your health.). The problem is that with the popularity of kombucha on the rise many local and national drink manufacturers want to get in the action. More brands of kombucha are sprouting than weeds on a warm Spring day.
- Read the nutritional labels. A good kombucha will have 6 grams of sugar or less per serving while still tasting great. Many varieties now will pack 12-16 grams per serving! Way too high!
- Pick kombucha brands that boast the most strands of bacteria and fungus.
- Chocolate-dipped nuts. That chocolate is not dark and even those purporting to be dark are in the 60% level. Big Food knows that the combo of nuts and sugar-laden chocolate is simply too much to resist. Inevitably, we eat the whole bag.
- Spaghetti Sauce
- Naked Brand or store-bought smoothies. All carbs/sugar and little fats or proteins to balance it out. You are asking for a monumental sugar crash.
- Flavored Oatmeal (Try out our savory steel oats recipe.)
- Stay away from any healthy foods purported to be “low fat” “fat free”. All of those products must put in tons of sugar to compensate for the removal of the tasty fat. Just keep walking down the aisle.
- Stay away from advertised low-sugar items as well. They just put in tons of artificial sweeteners which are worse for your body than high fructose corn syrup and sugar.
- Just stay away from the middle aisles altogether!
As the old adage says, “Caveat Emptor” or “Let the Buyer Beware.” Ultimately the onus falls on us. If a man unfortunately is beset with a terminal illness which puts him on him in his death bed at an early age, Big Food, Big Medicine, & Big Pharma won’t be there with him. They all did their job…they profited from him & now they will discard him to move on to the next victim. Our goal, Naturopathic Citizens, is to NOT be the next victim.
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A. Gregory Luna, Double-Certified Health Consultant & Former Obese Child
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