Raw, vegan, gluten-free, refined-sugar free. These days, there are so many wholesome, nutrient-dense options. While I’m all about savouring indulgences, it seems that we find it challenging to incorporate the words ‘balance’ and ‘moderation’ into our lives.
As a nutritionist, my philosophy is all about moderation; a balance of the nutrient-dense and not-so-nutrient-dense makes for a healthy life.
With the world becoming so much more health conscious, perhaps we’re now using the label “healthy” as a license to go overboard with those foods. In fact there is a lot of false advertisement going on. Just because something is marketed as “healthy” or “natural” or “fat free” (the worst!) doesn’t mean it’s doing our bodies any good.
I have previously spent some time in Los Angeles, which some argue is the mecca of healthy food. There is a divine juice bar around the corner that sells delicious-looking “healthy cookies.” I was tempted by the pecan pie cookie, which looks absolutely heavenly, and was labeled “gluten-free, sugar-free and vegan.” A trifecta of health, right? Not necessarily. It was loaded with maple syrup (natural, yes – but still sugar) and preservatives, none of which your body needs in abundance. If you want to have a cookie, have a cookie! But enjoy it, and don’t be misled by buzzwords. A treat is a treat.
Even foods that legitimately are all natural and packed with nutrients can be tricky. As more and more people decide to remove gluten from their diets, it makes sense that they’re filling it in with something else – and for most, it seems to be nuts. Almonds, cashews and coconut are the replacements du jour. Almond butter, cashew flour, coconut milk – again, these are delicious and very nutritious in moderation. But just because it’s not gluten isn’t license to overdo it every day.
Ultimately, my recommendation as a nutritionist is that a healthy balance is one nutritious snack per day and a nutrient dense treat 1-3 times a week. More importantly, it’s a good idea to develop the habit of reading the labels of all packaged food with a “healthy” claim. Be informed, not deceived!