Garfield's Challenge: Read Labels

Garfield Wilson is the owner of a personal training company called Forward Fitness and one of the trainers from CBC's Village on a Diet. 

Have you been keeping up with Garfield? As an enthusiastic supporter of Live Right Now, he's challenged all Canadians to take a weekly Endurance Test! There's no point in a weekly test unless we're doing something in between to take our fitness to the next level, so Garfield has been offering weekly tips:

There are so many choices out there when it comes to healthy eating. 

Most of the people I speak to tell me that they have a healthy diet and eat "pretty well". However, they just can't seem to lose that last 10 pounds or two inches and as a result are understandably frustrated. 

Let's be honest. Some of the choices out there are just too good to be true. But numbers don't lie - if your caloric intake is higher than your caloric expenditure you simply won't lose weight. We need to be aware of what we're putting in our bodies, and some health foods might be adding to our waistlines.

Last year a friend of mine went through a roller-coaster ride while trying to attain her fitness and weight-loss goals. She worked out three to four times a week, ate a low-fat, gluten-free, sugar-free diet and consumed no alcohol. And yet she simply could not lose that "extra layer" as she like to call it. 

It wasn't until she looked into the types of food she was eating and her portion sizes that she started to see some major changes. To her surprise many of the "healthy" foods that she was snacking on were low in fat, but very high in calories and sugar. Once she made that discovery, she made a point of reading labels and adjusted her eating habits (including eating right before bed). She finally attained her weight-loss goal in two months.
Here are a few items that might surprise you:

  • Vitamin Water - Not going to lie to you. This stuff tastes great. But if you think you are replenishing your body, think again. This is sugar water; one bottle contains 125 calories and 33grams of sugar. I recommend H2O instead.
  • Energy and Protein bars - Most energy bars are high in sugar and fat. And there are items in the ingredients that I can't pronounce. Read the ingredients. Chances are that if you haven't made it yourself it contains the same nutritional value as a candy bar.
  • Whole Wheat Bread - While whole wheat bread is more nutritious than white bread, both have the same impact on our blood sugar. A typical sandwich can amount to 40g of carbs or four beers. Best bet is whole grain bread or specialty breads that won't spike the blood sugar.
  • Fruit Smoothies - A healthy choice if you make it yourself. If you don't have time and buy one instead, be careful of the high levels of fat and sugar.
  • Fat-Free Salad Dressing - Read the labels of prepared salad dressing carefully. Manufacturers tend to make up for the absence of fat by adding sugar for taste.

My challenge to you this week is to read the ingredients of the healthy foods you're eating. Take note of the sugar, sodium and fat content. You might be unpleasantly surprised.

Take the Get Label Literate challenge and earn points to help your community be crowned the Live Right Now Capital of Canada, which will be rewarded with a free $100,000 natural playground!

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