How did the whole `light`-thing start? The word itself can be used in many contexts, but in the last 2 or 3 decades the first thing popping to our mind when hearing it, is a food or a drink we can eat without the guilty feeling. So, how is it possible then that the number of overweight people are still increasing, while most of them will choose the `light` option available of foods and drinks? And it is not just about weight, it is about health in general.
The problem started around the 80`s when our food became so processed, and so full with artificial additives, that soon all we did while eating is filling our stomach, but leaving our body still starving. The food was not nutritive any more. Let’s just stop here for a minute. What does “nutritive” means? Our body needs protein, fat, sugars, vitamins, minerals. Foods containing them are the nutritive foods. Yes, fat and sugars are not mistakenly there, we do need them. We were talking before about healthy sugars, and when it comes to fat, yes, there is healthy fat too, I will talk about it at an other time. So, about 30 years ago the food industry started to rocket. Fantastic new ideas came up how to make people happy through food. Unfortunately this couldn’t be done in a healthy way, offering nutritive foods, and the reasons for that would make a long list. Money is the first on the list of course. People started to gain weight, then more weight and some more. Children started to gain weight too. When health professionals started to get concerned about this new epidemic, the food industry found immediately the response: `Light` products, low fat, or no fat, sugar-free…
Fat and low fat. Let’s just think about it: what are the options when we want to eat something which contains lots of fat in its original form, but this time we want its `light` option? Let’s think about a heavy cream and add some vanilla extract to it. It tastes delicious. Let’s do the same with skimmed milk, add the vanilla extract, but the taste will be terrible. Some things are not the same without the fat. So how is it possible that I buy a `light` mayonnaise for example, and the taste is totally the same as the taste of the regular one…? If they decreased significantly the amount of fat in the `light` one, it should taste horrible. That’s where all the additives and chemicals come on the scene. Food scientists have to make everything possible, add any kind of non-food additives, to make the `stuff` taste just as good as its `normal` brother. Do you think it is good for us? Not at all. It’s never too many times emphasizing, that our body cannot deal with the artificial additives and chemicals present in processed food. Our body works properly only if it gets as much natural food as it can. The author of the book The soup lies, Hans Ulrich Grimm said a very good metaphor. The food for us is like the fuel for the car. If you have a car, there is no way you will try to put in the tank something which smells like petrol, but in fact it is water with petrol aroma. Not even if it is natural petrol aroma! Do you agree with that? I am sure you do. But at the same time we don’t care what food we give to our body. Thinking a bit about the same metaphor, if we did that, filling the tank with `artificial` petrol, the car won’t move, though it’s tank is full. We fill our stomach with artificial food, and although we can still move, we are overweight, tired, stressed, sick… Our body just can’t work properly.
So, what you should never forget: focus on natural. Let’s go back to the mayonnaise. If you make it at home, you will need egg, oil, salt and pepper. Some people add mustard, or cream, or some other ingredients. Then go to a store, and check the label of the mayonnaise. Obviously you will find some unknown ingredients. But the big surprise comes when you check the label of the `light` option. The list is double long! And of course double unknown names of ingredients. If you want to take care of your health, you have to check the labels. It is not that you have to learn all those strangely-named additives. You just need to go for the things you know, like egg, oil, milk, whatever. When you see things on the label you haven’t heard about, it is a bad sign. And not because you missed something at school. No. You are fine. It is a bad sign because they are all artificial things, basically non-foods. So first of all, avoid `light` products. Then second of all, if you do start checking labels, choose the product you see the less unknown additives on their label.
What about low fat milk for example? Milk in its pure form contains vitamins and minerals. When we get rid of the fat, we also get rid of these essential vitamins and minerals. Again, the “light” version does not mean better option at all.
And let’s just don’t forget about the sugar vs. sweetener fight. Sweets, yoghurts, drinks, etc. The “light” version is made with artificial sweeteners instead of sugar. As I was saying in a previous article, processed sugar is not good for our health. But if you’re going to eat or drink something sweet, bought from a store, you’d better choose the `original` one with `just` the processed sugar, rather than the artificial sweeteners. It started with the Saccharin, it was one of the first sweeteners, and after couple of years they said it is not good for us. Aspartam was next, which is still on the market, however, it is banned in some countries already, and then the Acesulfam K, which is still `on the top`, but also getting more and more bad reviews after more and more research is done. Isn’t it strange that all of them start their life on the market being harmless allegedly, then after some time they are silently replaced by other, `new and definitely harmless` artificial sweeteners? I don’t want to scare you, all I am saying is always give priority to the natural things, and the natural, well-known ingredients on any kind of list, on any label.
More and more researches show that the reason for getting fat, the reason for being tired, the reason for getting sick often, is the lack of nutrients in the food and the artificial additives. “Light” foods and drinks contain even less nutrients, but much more artificial stuff, in order to get the same texture and taste. So why would you buy them? Don’t step in the trap! Leave the”light” product on the shelves!
We are part of nature, there is nothing artificial in our body and in the way it works, so please, remember the `water with petrol aroma` metaphor when choosing food in stores.
The answer is: Light is not right!