I marvel at all the creative cookbooks and "How to" books and expert columns that offer you ways to shave the calories and fat and other unhealthy ingredients from the foods you love. After all - that's the whole idea, right? We want to eat what we love but just make it a more health conscious dish. So we try and remove trans fat or sodium or processed sugar - and along the way I think we put a health halo on those foods. So what's a health halo? It's labeling a food as "desired" because of its perceived health benefits. Sounds like a good idea, right?? After all, we want to eat for health. The problem is that we often eat too much of it or we eat it too frequently or we simply justify it in our diet as the ultimate food....because it's healthy.
Right now New York is taking a bold step in banning trans fat from all fast food restaurants. So Dunkin Donuts is using a trans-fat-free oil blend of palm, soybean and cottonseed oils. Kentucky Fried Chicken has removed trans fat from its pot pie and biscuits (don't know what they're using instead). Pizza Hut has removed trans fat from one style of pizza. Burger King has removed the trans fat from fries, apple pie and biscuits with plans to make these changes nationwide. McDonalds has removed trans fat from fries, cookies and baked apple pie and will make this a nationwide change. All good, correct??
Not really. Because we are now going to treat all these foods as healthier and eat them more frequently or have larger portions of them. Sorry - but that's my experience when I work with clients. I get the typical - "but I thought it was healthy now." C'mon - you know better. So it has saturated fat and not trans fat - great - one step closer to cardiac disease whether you want to face it or not. And battling these healthy halos gets even harder with labels like "whole grains" - which can mean some whole grains and not exclusively whole grain or "heart healthy" which may make you ignore the fact that it's still high in calories or other processed ingredients. Let's get honest here. I devote a significant amount of tips to help you improve the health quality of your food in my new book Fat Families Thin Families. And in general, change when it involves removal of an unhealthy ingredient, is great. But we are going to have to work on our food issues and our food perceptions and food lies and realize that a treat food or meal or snack is still a "treat" which means it should be eaten intermittently and savored and not be considered a "daily indulgence." Until we get that health message - we will continue to grow large on foods that are improved but not really good for our waistlines or our health!!
Do you justify food portions because it's healthy food??