I've been working in the advertising / marketing agency game for over 15 years. And I can tell you, we are all influenced by what we see in advertising whether we like it or not. Be it on TV, the internet, product packaging and the like, no one is immune, including myself!!
Big food brands spend millions of dollars on research and marketing that is designed to really pull at our emotions and deep seated insecurities via campaigns that influence the foods we buy. They write things like 'health food', 'no preservatives', 'baked not fried'. There are no regulations on what 'healthy' actually means. It's confusing and deflating for most people, as it's hard to know the real truth behind what it really takes to be in optimal health.
This blog is a start of some simple hacks I've learned over the years, to help me decide if it's 'healthy'. To start with - don't read the front of the packaging, turn that pack around, get your spectacles out and hone in on the ingredients list.
First up... take a look at the oil that the food is cooked in...
Coconut, Animal + Nut - YES!
These oils are a 'healthy' fat. And to be clear, eating these 'fats' will NOT make you fat. These types of fats are nutrient dense, turn your meals into yumminess and you get 'fuller' quicker too (it's so hard to 'overeat') when consuming these types of fats:
You can cook at high heats with these oils. But I don't recommend deep frying, it just doesn't get 'hot' enough. Ghee and Lard are good for deep frying.
Animal Fat (Lard, Tallow)
Any Nut Oils - walnut, almond, macadamia, avocado, olive
Flax seed oil is OK - be careful here, 1/2 teaspoon a day maximum.
Some simple rules around quality. These oils must be:
- Grass fed if it comes from an animal (free range isn't enough I'm afraid as it could be that the animals are free to roam but fed grains to fatten them up).
Just do the best you can and don't beat yourself up if you don't nail it every time. On the weekend, I needed macadamia nut oil (I put it in my coffee - a blog on that another time :). I couldn't find organic, so just got a small, non organic version. No biggie. All my other oils are organic, and I'd rather have it in my coffee than not. The key is to be mindful of your choices.
Seed - NO!
According to Weston A Price, seed oils were created as a low cost way to mass produce cooking oil. No consideration was put into testing these oils on our bodies, and sadly it's been supported by our governments and so called health organisations too.
(if you haven't heard of Weston A Price, Google it and get on their mailing list. If you have.. yay, a fellow Weston-Worshipper :))
Here are the traditional ones, to steer clear of:
- Vegetable (don't be deceived by the word 'vegetable')
When eating out, most restaurants use canola or vegetable. Even the fancy ones. My advice here is to:
- Ask if they can cook your meal in an acceptable oil instead. Especially if you see that oil is in another dish, then they'll have it handy to cook with. For example, I asked for my scrambled eggs to be cooked in butter at a cafe last weekend, no problemo!
- Eat 'in' most of the time.
- Be mindful of your menu choices - choose the dishes that are likely to have the 'least' amount of unhealthy oils in them.
Also, here are the oils to stay away from (sorry, I know you may proudly have these in your pantry, and may see in health shops):
- Rice bran oil
- Hemp seed oil
- Grape seed oil
- Sunflower oil
- Corn oil
- Soybean oil
- Rapeseed oil
- Safflower oil
- Cottonseed oil
They are all industrialised, and most contain too-high amounts of Omega 6 fatty acids (which a lot of us have too much of in our diets, so this just puts out the ideal ratio).
Introducing more of these acceptable oils into your diet will help you feel more satiated, and give your body many micro nutrients it needs. There's nothing more satisfying than a good quality bar of chocolate, made with coconut oil/butter and a sweetner like maple syrup (more about acceptable sweetners in another blog :)
Consciously removing all of the unacceptable oils will help you decide whether to purchase something or not. You'll be really surprised at what you 'thought' was good for you.
Any questions? Comment on this post and and I'll reply :)