What’s in Your Health Food? ~ Jennifer Tingstad

Via on May 21, 2012
Photo: Zaskoda

Things Are Not Always What They Seem.

Today, many people try to do a “good job” by shopping and eating at the local “heath” food stores: Whole Foods, PCC Natural Markets, Trader Joes, and even the organic section at King Soopers, QFC and Safeway.

If you are one of those people, you should be applauded for the effort to be more conscientious about where you are purchasing your food. It’s great to avoid the non-organic, weight-increasing, GMO’d and pesticide-sprayed products (that was a mouth full); however, you should know that things aren’t always what they seem.

When I worked in the prep-foods department at Whole Foods, all thoughts I had about their “healthy” products went right out the sliding glass doors. Some of you may not be surprised by the following info, but for those of you who still eat off the salad bar, or buy pre-packaged/deli foods at any of these “healthy” stores ,this might just help decrease your waist line and reduce your bad fats.

Take a look at what is in two of the most popular Whole Foods deli choices.

Photo: Peter Woodman

Chicken Salad: 8oz (smallest size) 610 calories and 43g of fat (from mayonnaise) and 13g of add sugar.

I use to watch my fellow “team members” dump about a gallon of mayo on top of little chicken cubes—yummy.

Pasta Salad: 5oz (smaller serving size) 400 calories and 17g of fat (once again from mayo).

I would like to point out that Whole foods uses soy based mayo in most of their prepared dishes and each serving has at least 2TB (200 calories) of oil. Also even when they say olive oil, it is usually nasty canola from a plastic container.

Things aren’t any better with the popular deli choices at PCC (Washington State)

Emerald city salad: 3 cups (average serving) 636 calories and 42g of fat.

The ingredients stated on recipe card say “All-natural wild rice, fennel, kale and red peppers with hearty greens in a lemony vinaigrette.” Where does all that fat come from? I sure don’t see it in the kale.

Perfect protein salad: 1/4 cup 300 calories and 12 grams of protein.

It may have a good amount of protein, but the vegan mayo adds a lot of fat and unhealthy calories. If you ever dab this salad (like the top of a pizza) with a paper towel, be prepared to be disgusted by the oil covering it.

Note: The website had the wrong nutrition information for this item. I had to call and get the real count.

What about your favorite store?

Prepackaged salads with dressing and add on’s: 500-1500 calories and more unhealthy (not Omegas) fat than we want to talk about.

And at the salad bar…

I have found that something interesting to do is watch people make a salad at a salad bar and listen as they talk to their friends about how it is going to help them lose weight. In the past few years, I have gotten pretty good at judging calories in foods and just seeing what people do to their “salads” is astonishing. By the time they are finished making it—with the nuts, seeds, a “small” portion of pre-made pasta, bean salad, meat etc and light dressing—the calories and fat have really added up.

So now for the good news about choices at salad bars and deli’s. You have choices that are better!

Photo: Catsper

Please help yourselves to all the vegetables that are not drenched in sauce/oil and the meat that is plain. Most will have chicken pieces and if none are on the salad bar, go to the meat counter and ask for a few slices of organic low sodium chicken/turkey slices.

For a dressing here are two great choices:

#1 Take a sample cup (1/4 cup) and fill 1/4 of it with salad dressing and 1/4 with water, shake and apply—none of this dipping the fork and then stabbing the lettuce or you will end up going through all of it anyway.

#2 Pour on lots of vinegar (not vinaigrette) and mustard, 1 tsp of honey or maple syrup, lots of spices and a tiny bit of oil (like a tsp) if necessary (but it really isn’t necessary).

All of these ideas also apply to eating at a restaurant.

Easy advice for eating out: ask for grilled, steamed, or baked meat/fish with no oil and a side of veggies. Hello, healthy!

If you must order something else from the menu, assume it is three portions in front of you. Either share or get a doggie bag. I highly recommend sharing, because inevitably you will be eating that again and the point of going out to eat is to do it there, don’t bring it home—unless you plan on feeding it to the doggies, hence the doggie bag.

Eating right is possible. Gaining awareness about things like how even “healthy” foods are made is a good first step.

Jennifer Tingstad has been practicing Holistic Health since 2005 when she was diagnosed with a “chronic dis-ease”. After going back to school and learning how to heal through nutrition she is back with a vengeance, a vengeance to help others get healthy. She is dedicated to her private practice, Prajna Nutrition (www.liveprajna.com), her dogs and a healthy lifestyle. She encourages readers to contact with questions anytime!

Editor: Lorin Arnold

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