Let’s take a look at some buzzwords used to appeal to the side of you that really wants to get healthier.

  • All Natural:
    All-natural literally means nothing when it is stamped on a food package. There is no legal definition and the FDA has zero rules for using this label. Keep that in mind - I’ve totally fallen for this one, choosing one synthetically made soda over another because it was “all-natural.” Nope, still soda.

  • Gluten Free:
    If you have celiac disease or a gluten-related disorder, it is best to stay away from gluten. Somehow though, this phrase has made its way onto so many packages you have to wonder why that is a selling point. While a gluten-free diet is one way to limit your carbs, it does not add any health merit to an already unhealthy food.

  • High Protein:
    Protein is great and a high protein diet is super fitness-friendly so yes, eat more of it. It is so supported in the health and fitness industry that it’s often spun to sound good, no matter what. On top of that, it is easy to squeeze isolated protein into anything. Really, anything. At the moment, they’re doing candy-bars and calling them protein bars. I've seen protein ice-cream, protein muffins, protein pancakes, and I’m sure there will soon be protein donuts. Here’s the catch, it’s still all junk, except now, they actually do have a little merit. Protein will keep you satiated longer and slows the digestion of all that sugar…and these foods are full of sugar. Adding protein is not going to change that.

  • Vitamin-rich:
    I knew a medical student years ago who told me that breakfast cereal was a leading source of vitamins in The States. At the time I found it amusing. Now, I look back horrified because I know this speaks more for the marketing of cereal than the nutritional content in it. Like protein, you can add vitamins to anything. That doesn't take away the fact that it was unhealthy to begin with. Fruits and vegetables could be your leading source of vitamins - and they are when you eat more of them :)

  • Cleanse:
    It sounds so good! After all, if you’re opting for something called “a cleanse,” chances are your diet doesn't pass for “clean-eating” in the first place. But, what does “cleanse” even mean? The idea is that you flush toxins from your bloodstream, clear your digestive track, and reset your reward pathways (give the caffeine and alcohol habits a rest). That’s great and easily achieved through ample hydration, fiber, and avoiding vices. It is also done through juicing. But cleansing your system is not attained through substituting a juice for a meal and keeping everything else the same. That is like washing your hands when you need a shower and calling yourself clean.

The next time you’re at your all-natural grocery store browsing the aisles for gluten-free protein bars, take a second to examine the buzzwords. Ask yourself: How much sugar is in this and are these clean-sounding labels distracting me from my goal to purchase healthy and wholesome food?

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Fitness Buzzwords: Busted

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