Posted on May 9, 2014 at 10:35 AM
Every day, we're bombarded with subtle messages by food marketers. Most of us think we're too smart to be "sold" to. But even when we think we're doing something that's really healthy, so often, it's just something a marketer wants us to think is healthier.
How did the Gluten Free movement start?
If you do suffer from Celiac Disease, you have to follow a strict gluten free diet. No question. You can't even share a toaster with crumbs from wheat bread. But that's only about 1 percent of the country. Now it seems that every product has to have a gluten free version. Gluten Free doesn't always mean healthy. For example, in many gluten free breads, there are often long lists of additives to make it have the right consistency and taste good. So check the labels. If you think gluten actually makes you sick, find out if there's a real medical reason for that. Don't just miss out on the benefits of eating a variety of whole grains without a real diagnosis. The less processed, the better.
There's also a lot of hype around Coconut Water. What are the benefits?
There are some wonderful nutritional properties in coconut, but what the marketing message skims over is that coconut is high in saturated fat. The kind that scientists and the American Heart Association tells us contributes to cardiovascular disease. Some of the health claims are based on scanty research and are a big stretch. As for the waters, the electrolytes found in most coconut waters can also be found in other sports drinks that don't have the trendy coconut. It's not bad for you, but it would be a better idea to vary your fats, including olive oil, nuts, flax, fish, avocados, etc. When you see a large area of the supermarket filled with one thing, try not to fall for the marketing, especially, when everywhere you look, it's in everything!
Like when all of a sudden kale was everywhere. And now that juicing is so popular, we're beyond eating a serving of kale once in a while and some people even have it in juice every morning. Is this a good thing? How much kale is a good thing?
Kale is delicious and healthy, but a whole bunch of kale makes only about a ½ cup of juice so the amounts can really add up in juices. Consuming that much raw kale every day could lead to trouble... kidney stones have been associated with large intake of raw kale and spinach. Also, though uncommon, cases of hypothyroidism related to really large intake of cruciferous veggies have also been reported. Basically, these juices are packed with nutrients, but you wouldn't eat a bunch or two of kale in one sitting every morning, so try not to drink that much at once either.
The kale and coconut marketing people have really done an amazing job of making us think we need to eat lots of their products to be healthy, haven't they?
Again, we're not saying that kale and coconut aren't good products, we're just saying that too much of a good thing isn't always a good thing!