11/20/2012 08:01 EST | Updated 01/20/2013 05:12 EST

Don't Be Tricked by Misleading Food Labels


Have you been misled by corporations marketing their food products? Most of us have. And we now mistakenly rely on food labels for an accurate picture of the nutritional value of the foods that we consume. If you want to achieve an overall healthier lifestyle, say goodbye to the following misleading terms:

Carb Free -- Depriving your body of carbs, will lead you to be craving sugar sooner or later. Stick to complex carbohydrate sources such as brown rice, sweet potatoes and fruit.

Low Calorie -- Consuming too few calories, will leave you feeling weak, tired and ineffective during your workday and your workouts. Not to mention you'll be grumpy because you will be hungry!

Low Fat -- When fat is removed from a diet, usually sugar is added right back in to compensate for the nutrients that your body is craving. This is deceiving because sugar can actually make you fat whereas "good healthy" fats won't make you fat!

No Sugar -- If you think that artificial sweeteners are better options than sugar you are setting yourself up for disaster. Chemical sweeteners like aspartame trick your body into thinking it is getting sugar when it's not and will actually make you crave sugar. Stay natural and choose natural sweeteners like honey, maple syrup and coconut sugar.

Gluten Free -- Just because something is labelled gluten-free does not mean it is healthy. The gluten-free label is being over used on products that are naturally gluten free (like pickles or apples).

The key to ultimate health will not be achieved by focusing on these claims. Incorporate natural, whole foods in your diet even if they are higher in fat or contain more calories than we have been taught will effect weight loss. Your body will thrive off of healthy fats and complex carbs. They are needed to achieve a healthy, lean weight.

How can you ditch this unhealthy way of thinking?

First and foremost, most of your food selections should be fresh whole foods -- items like vegetables, fruits, legumes and nuts. These should be the focus of your diet. Ignore the nutrition claims including fat, calories, and carbs listed. Your body will thrive off of these foods.

When you do choose processed foods, take all label claims with a grain of salt. Realize they may or may not be true, and base your primary decision on the ingredients list instead. You want to look for foods that have only a few ingredients listed, and they should be items that you recognize. Avoid foods that contain unfamiliar additives, preservatives, and artificial flavours and colours. Always use common sense. A sugary breakfast cereal is not going to be your healthiest choice, even if it claims to be a "low calorie" one on the label.


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What is the secret to achieving a healthy weight?

Focus on whole, natural foods. Fuel your body with foods that will help build muscle, speed, and recovery. Use these tips below to start seeing the healthy, lean results that you want.

  • Boost your veggie intake. Include lots of leafy greens in your salads and smoothies.
  • Drink more water. To add some flavour to your water, add a squeeze of lemon or enjoy a delicious herbal tea.
  • Fill up on soup loaded with veggies. Get some delicious soup recipe inspiration here.
  • Choose complex carbs over refined. A low carbohydrate diet is not the answer either -- your body needs carbs in all its forms (except refined ones of course!) along with good quality essential fats and protein! Complex carbs including grains such as quinoa, wheat berries, and more will leave you feeling great with exuberant amounts of energy allowing you to achieve your health and fitness goals.
  • Choose healthy fats over bad fats. Healthy fats include avocados, nuts, and seeds. Bad fats include non-saturated fats contained in chips and highly processed foods.
  • Eat enough protein. Protein is an important nutrient required for the building, maintenance and repair of muscle and tissues in the body.
  • Cut out sugars. Choose fruit instead which contains natural sugars. To curb your sugar craving check out these wholesome desserts that provide nothing but essential, whole foods that your body craves.
  • Focus less on weight and calories and more on eating whole, natural foods. The health benefits of consuming superfoods will out-weight the number of calories in it.
  • Eat 4-6 meals a day. This way, your metabolism will always be working and you will avoid devouring your meals if you eat nothing in between each meal.
  • Exercise by doing weight bearing exercise and interval cardio. Take a fitness class or start by doing 15 minutes of cardio a day and slowly build up your endurance each week.

What is the secret to a healthy and lean YOU?

Choose foods that are unprocessed and in their freshest form. They are almost always superior to processed varieties. When choosing between processed foods, look for those with the most wholesome ingredients possible.

When it comes to making your own recipes, don't get caught up with calories and fat, just enjoy eating balanced and nourishing meals to keep yourself fueled. I promise this will make a difference!