“Light” foods: a double-edged weapon
For many years, the supermarket aisles have been full of pale blue products, which are called “light”. A light product is a product that contains 25% less fat or sugar than its regular counterpart. We can think of yogurts and cheeses with a lower fat percentage, or soft drinks, jams, and candies sweetened with artificial sweeteners or even processed foods with lower quantities of fat or sugar such as crackers, salad dressings, all kinds of mousses, cookies, and many others.
What should we think of these products and most of all, do they help us lose weight? My answer: yes, but under certain conditions:
· Pay attention to the quantities you ingest: do you allow yourself to eat more when it’s a light product? One doesn’t need to be a mathematician to understand that there is no advantage to eating twice as much of a food that contains 25 % less calories… Do the math! In equal quantities, however, the light product can indeed help you decrease the quantity of calories you ingest.
· Compare labels: your light product may contain less fat, but it may have been replaced by carbs, or vice versa. Before choosing, compare the amount of calories for each product and ask yourself if the difference is really worth it.
· Limit your consumption of products that contain artificial sweeteners: Just like foods that contain real sugar, artificial sweeteners trigger insulin secretion, which is a hormone that promotes the storage of fat. Note to those of you with a sweet tooth: did you know that artificial sweeteners actually nurture your taste for sugar?
· Prefer basic foods, i.e., those that are part of Canada’s Food Guide 4 groups (vegetables and fruit, grain products, milk and alternatives, and meat and alternatives). They naturally contain less fat and sugar, and more vitamins and minerals. For example, your diet soft drink may contain 100 calories less than a glass of milk, but milk contains proteins and calcium that your body needs!
In short, it is not the light products in themselves that will help you reach a healthy weight, but rather a healthy diet in general. However, a few light foods in your refrigerator, such as low-fat yogurt, cheese, and salad dressing can help you reduce your caloric intake. The most important thing is to not yield to excess!
By Vanessa Martin