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Decode-a-Diet

You’ve made the decision to lose weight and you’re sticking to the plan, but now at the grocery store, you struggle with decisions of: the light or the lean? And at restaurants, the low-fat entrée or the low-cal?

The food industry has many words they plaster on packages in attempts to prove their food will best help you cut inches off of your waist. You want to make the best choice, or the most natural or the healthiest. But not knowing the meaning of these keywords can actually result in making choices that are worse than what you usually buy.

Sure, a food may be classified as “low-fat,” but have you checked out the amount of sodium and sugar? Sometimes to actually have the product qualify for that special name, the company must spike up the level of other ingredients that you shouldn’t have much of either. And all-natural doesn’t mean the same as organic. In fact, natural foods (with meat as the exception) don’t have regulations, except that they must be preservative-free and minimally processed. But the “all-natural” vegetable may still be sprayed with pesticides. So if you looking for the healthier option, choose organic.

Here are a few phrases, decoded:

Fat-Free: fewer than 0.5 gram of fat.
Low-Fat: fewer than or exactly three grams of fat
Reduced or less fat: contains at least 25% less fat than the regular product.
Low-Cal: forty calories or less

These foods targeted for diets don’t have to be avoided, but don’t use them as a way to turn a blind eye to the Nutritional Facts. And if you still really, really want it, be happy and have a smaller portion. [LowFatLifestyle.com]

Posted: 4/23/08