The Healthy Gourmet



Christine and BJ Bollier are owners of Vitamart, natural food and supplement cornucopia in Payson, AZ (516 S. Beeline Highway) and can be reached by phone (928) 474-4101. Or contact Christine via e-mail with any questions or comments at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Monday, 01 February 2010 00:00    E-mail
Real food contains fewer than five ingredients

Download this column: 18-EO-Healthy_Gourmet.pdf

The world is full of crazy diets. Most Americans admit to trying at least one diet that has them eating two bowls of cabbage soup a day or half a grapefruit before every meal.

Thanks to great advertising firms, we have all heard the success story of Jared who lost weight eating Subway sandwiches. It’s a fact that the media shapes the choices that we make every day.

Take for instance the newly launched Taco Bell Drive thru diet. You may have seen the new commercials Taco Bell is running claiming that a woman lost 54 pounds by eating low calorie options from Taco Bell. Other companies are jumping on the fast-food diet bandwagon. Familiar brands from Taco Bell to Starbucks to Dunkin Doughnuts are rolling out new products and ad campaigns in an attempt to lure calorie-conscious consumers during the month when the $170 billion fast-food industry typically sees sales slide.

What better time to promote diet fast food than now?

According to the 2009 Food and Health Survey from the International Food Information Council, 64 percent of Americans say they are taking steps to improve the “healthiness” of their diets. Before you jump in the car and order yourself a “diet” taco, here are a few things to consider.

Researchers at Tufts University analyzed the calorie content of 18 side dishes and entrees from national sit-down chain restaurants, 11 side dishes and entrees from national fast-food restaurants and 10 frozen meals purchased from supermarkets. They compared their results to the calorie content information provided to the public by the restaurants and food companies.

“Because we analyzed a relatively small sample of food, additional research testing more foods will be needed to see if this is a nationwide problem,” said senior author Susan B. Roberts, Ph.D., a professor at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University.

On average, the calorie content information provided by the restaurants was 18 percent less than the researcher’s calorie content analysis.

Two side dishes exceeded the restaurant’s reported calorie information by nearly 200 percent. The calorie content information reported by packaged food companies averaged 8 percent less than the researchers’ analysis.

“If people use published calorie contents for weight control, discrepancies of this magnitude could result in weight gain of many pounds a year,” Roberts said.

Aside from the possibility of getting more calories than you bargained for, many of these fast food and prepackaged diet foods contain more than half the recommended daily intake of sodium (which is 2300mg) unhealthy fats, preservatives and artificial colors. They also have little nutritional value.

This brings us back to the topic of eating real food.

Real food is anything you could find in nature. Apples, beans, meats anything that your grandmother would cook that doesn’t involve a degree in chemistry to make.

One of my favorite real food tips to follow is the five ingredient rule. If you pick up anything in a box, bag or can at the grocery store that has more than five ingredients, or ingredients you can’t pronounce, it most likely is not real food.

When you need real food real fast give our 300 calorie breakfast sandwich a try. It takes about 10 minutes to prepare a fresh healthy breakfast that you can wrap up and take with you when you are on the go. You can use any vegetables that you have on hand and keep some whole wheat buns in the freezer so you’re always prepared to make a fresh healthy breakfast that will fill you up, make you feel great and save some money.