Nutritional and food trends that may be popular one week are likely to be soon replaced by a new and exciting food product. This product will promise quicker results, greater health benefits, and a multitude of positive side effects having little to no scientific research to back up the claims.
New trends are not something new in the health food industry. They seemingly pop up overnight. All it takes for a new food product to get popular is generally creative labelling and mass marketing.
There may not be anything inherently wrong with the following products, but the general population has an altered perception of what the following types of health foods in fact actually do.
The following is a list of the 8 most commonly misused nutritional buzzwords that exist today.
8 Misused Nutritional Buzzwords
Buzzword #1 - "Gluten-Free"There is no doubt in my mind that over the last couple of years "gluten-free" has become the most misused label in the entire food industry. While a very - and I repeat - a VERY small percentage of the population suffers from an extreme gluten allergy, or the even rarer Celiac disease, the truth of the matter is that the common perception of this term is generally wrong.
For one reason or another, a large percentage of the population believes the term gluten-free means oh this is healthy and I can eat it without any form of shame or guilt. Just because it's gluten-free doesn't mean you can completely disregard all other nutritional information associated with this item.
Take for example the following conversation I hear on a regular basis:
John: "Hey Brittney would you like to try a cookie?!" Brittney: "Oh I can't I'm on a diet " John: "BUT they're GLUTEN-FREE!" Brittney: "OH so they're healthy I can definitely eat as many of those as I want!"There is nothing wrong with gluten-free products per se, but don't mistake gluten-free as being inherently a healthy alternative unless you take into account the rest of the product's nutritional makeup.
The truth is that there is no hard and fast scientific research proving that animal byproducts are, in fact, bad for us.
Buzzword #2 - "Organic"The term organic is another term that has ingrained in the modern food industry. It is used to refer to everything from vegetables to ketchup to candy. What has yet to be determined is what does the word organic truly mean?
Vegetables grown without use of pesticides. I can understand to a certain extent. But when we start talking about organic chocolate or organic cake what are we, in fact, getting?
To me the term organic makes many people rationalize certain food choices as healthy substitutes, when in fact this "organic" product may not be any better than the non-organic product in terms of nutritional value! "Bro just chill, this Pop Tart is organic."
Buzzword #3 - "Whole Grain"Whole grains can be beneficial to your health. Nobody is denying that. The problem herein lies in how whole grain products are marketed, along with how most people interpret the term "whole grain."
In the last few years several products have sprung up featuring label statements such as: "Made with 21 whole grains." Yes, General Mills, I'm looking at you! The truth of the matter is that many of these whole grain products are viewed as healthy food options when they're not.
"It's okay I just ate 4 bowls of Cinnamon Toast Crunch, its whole grain!"The food manufacturers market products with the "whole grain" label so that parents will feel safer buying their kids cereal. It must be healthy if it's made with whole grains right? WRONG. Understand how to read labels, and don't be one of the masses blindly following current trends.
Buzzword #4 - "Non-GMO"What's funny about this term is that a lot of people buying non-GMO products assume they are healthy, when in fact they have no clue what the acronym even stands for to begin with.
GMO stands for genetically modified organism. This means it could be anything from a genetically modified crop to a genetically modified chicken.
Some people assume that since a crop was altered in any way to grow to its highest potential it can't be good for us since it's "not natural."
The truth is that there is little scientific research backing up the claim that so-called GMO products are not safe for human consumption. Learn the facts behind the foods you are purchasing.
Buzzword #5 - "All Natural 100% Juice"100% juice is a term that has stuck around for decades.
You remember those Sunny D commercials from elementary school? The ones that showed the kid opening the fridge and reaching for the Sunny D instead of the grape drink or Cactus Cooler? Those companies were misleading you as kids, making you think you were drinking something healthy.
You know those Naked Juices claiming 100% juice that you buy for $5 dollars by the checkout stand? Let me tell you the juice companies still have you fooled today in the same manner they had you fooled when you were a child.
Some Naked Juice drinks have more calories, more carbs, AND more sugar than a Pepsi of the same exact size. Kind of makes you wonder what you can really trust in the so called "health food" industry?
Buzzword #6 - "Kale" AnythingThis so-called "super food" appeared out of nowhere over the course of the last couple years. Five years ago I didn't even know what kale was, to be quite frank.
Kale can be found now in any number of recipes ranging from kale chips to kale smoothies to even kale ice cream. YES, you heard right... kale ice cream!
Make no mistake about it, I have no issues with kale consumption. It is a quality vegetable that should be incorporated into your diet. However, kale should not be idolized as some sort of super food promising immortality, anti-aging, and involved with the unlocking of the fountain of youth.
In fact, spinach is generally less than half the price of kale, provides comparable nutritional benefits, and is much more versatile for use in recipes. Popeye ate his spinach to get big and strong. You never heard him praising the benefits of kale. I'll take his word any day!
Kale can be found now in any number of recipes ranging from kale chips to kale smoothies to even kale ice cream. YES, you heard right kale ice cream!
Buzzword #7 - "Vegan"What do the terms vegan, organic and gluten-free have in common? For some reason people tend to consider vegan as being inherently healthy. The definition simply means the product was made without animal byproducts.
Does this mean it's healthy? Does this mean it won't make you fat? Does this mean you will live to be 100 if you follow this style of diet religiously?
The truth is that there is no hard and fast scientific research proving that animal byproducts are, in fact, bad for us. Our prehistoric ancestors were carnivorous creatures and our bodies have become accustomed to processing meat.
There's no clear indication that we should subtract meat from our diets.
Once again, if you choose to practice a vegan type diet there is nothing integrally wrong with your choice. Just be sure to provide your body with ample nutrients and avoid deficiencies from lack of protein, iron, and other essential vitamins, minerals, and fatty acids.
Buzzword #8 - "Ketogenic"This is another term that is often thrown around in some lifting circles, and is often associated with the term healthy.
Can you see the trend going on here? Ketogenic, more commonly known as low-carb diets, are not necessarily healthy diets, nor do they unlock the key to the holy land of 6 pack abs.
Some individuals may have a higher carbohydrate sensitivity level and may experience better weight loss results on a higher fat diet compared to higher carb diet. But in most cases eliminating carbohydrates completely from your diet will not yield optimal results.
Experiment and find out what works for you, and what will aide you in reaching your goals.
Final Thoughts on These Buzzwords
The most common theme here is that each of these widely used buzzwords do not provide an accurate depiction of what these foods really do, or how healthy they truly are. Whether these buzzwords are used by food manufacturers to mislead consumers, or simply eaten by consumers because they appear healthy, the bottom line remains:
It is up to us to make informed choices about the foods we put into our bodies.The meaning of the term "healthy" is constantly changing and undergoing scrutiny. What was previously considered healthy might now be considered unhealthy, and vice versa.
None of the types of products mentioned above are necessarily good for us. They might not be bad for us either.
The key to healthy eating is to not partake in the mob mentality. Don't blindly follow hot trends in order to fit in and feel better about yourself. Just because hipster Joe drinks Naked Juices with his gluten-free muffin doesn't mean you should follow suit. Make your own decisions based on what provides you individually with the best results.
Now on that note, I'm just going to go eat my "Gluten free-organic-paleo-vegan-low carb-kale infused-whole grain-high fructose-corn syrup free-grass fed-non GMO cookies " Just kidding. The key to any diet is forming sustainable healthy lifestyle choices.
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