With Halloween right around the corner this corny dietitian couldn’t help but write a thematic article that captures the essence of the spookiest holiday of the year.
So the question I have for you today is…. When you think of Halloween what comes to mind?
For me, when I think Halloween I think mostly think scary things & costumes.
Guess what though….. There happen to be a whole lot of scary ( healthwise) foods out there that are dressed up as healthy…. when in fact the nutritional value of these foods is downright SPOOKY.
Despite nice packing & branding, the 7 foods on today’s list are scarier than you think they are.
Let’s see what I’ve come up with:
1. 9% MF “Designer” Greek Yogurt- I’ve noticed an interesting trend in the Greek Yogurt market where these obscenely high % MF yogurts are being made available with some very nice packing and branding. Unfortunately there is nothing particularly soothing about 8 grams of saturated fat per 3/4 cup serving, which is more than some types of ice cream.
2. Boutique Cold Pressed Juice – People who have followed me closely over the years will be well aware of my thoughts on juices and smoothies. I won’t get into that here, but I’ve noticed an alarming trend of “Boutique” cold pressed juice becoming increasingly trendy. The scariest thing about these products is probably the price, up to 8$ per 250 ml. That’s absolutely outrageous considering you can buy almost a weeks worth of kale and bananas for that amount. But hey, they come in a pretty bottle and all the celebs are chuggin em’, that’s gotta be worth something.
3. Turkey Bacon: Often perceived as the “better” choice, unfortunately turkey bacon is generally smoked/cured, which is the same process that contributes to the potential carcinogenic nature of normal bacon. Not to mention it still contains an absurd amount of sodium and saturated fat, which is pretty scary if you ask me!
4. Tempura Vegetables: Eating more vegetables is something that we ALL need to do more of, and Japanese food happens to be an extraordinarily popular choice among my clients. The thing is with tempura vegetables, they are all “dressed up” in a costume of white flour that than sits in a pool of simmering oil for longer than you’d like to know. The end result? Something formerly known as a vegetable. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t enjoy tempura when you go out though!
5. Anything With Sugar Alcohols: We are at an interesting cross roads in the field of nutrition where two of the most popular topics among the general public are sugar and digestive health ( independent of each other). On the one hand, food companies take advantage of the borderline ludicrous anti-sugar sentiment that currently exists by releasing sugar reduced or sugar free products that may contain sugar alcohols ( especially gum, ice cream, cakes, cookies and sweet candies).The “cool” thing about sugar alcohols is our bodies can’t digest them that well, which means we can’t extract the energy ( or calories) from them as well as would from normal sugar. This means they are marketed as the “healthier” choice. The “scary” thing about that? When we can’t break them down and absorb them, they sit around in our gut and can lead to gloating, diarrhea and gas.
6. Pumpkin Spice Lattes: I had to include at least one “Halloween” themed food item on the list. I am actually sitting at Starbucks as I write this looking at the menu board and coming to terms with the fact that a Venti pumpkin spice latte is nearly 500 calories. I’m not one to harp too much on calories ( although it may seem like it in this article) but 500 calories, put into perspective, represents 25% of the calorie requirement for the “average” 31-50 year old woman. Want a better option? Check this out.
I honestly don’t enjoy being overly stigmatizing or polarizing when it comes to food, but sometimes you have to be open to combining objectivity with humour, which is what I’ve tried to do today. With the scariest Holiday of the year upon us, I just couldn’t pass up the opportunity to put some of my least favourite foods on blast.
I hope you found the article both entertaining and educational and I wish you guys a Halloween season that is spooky , just not from a nutritional perspective.
Until next time,
Andy De Santis RD MPH