“The Organic Halo”
The “organic” label greatly influences people’s perceptions of food. A recent study was conducted among participants at a shopping mall who were asked to evaluate sets of yogurts, cookies, and potato chips for nutrition and taste. Shoppers were told the items were either organic or nonorganic, even though all items tested were organic and identical. Participants said the organic items were lower calories, lower in fat, more nutritious and more flavorful that items portrayed as nonorganic.
This organic health-halo effect could lead shoppers to overeat items like candies, cookies, and sugary yogurts, believe they are lower in calories, fat, and sugar simply because they sport an organic label.
Plan of Attack: Whether ingredients are organic or not, reading labels remains a must to ensure that people choose wisely at the supermarket and consume appropriate portions. People who regularly read food labels are less susceptible to the organic health halo effect.
“Eating Like an Athlete”
The advertisements claim that sports drinks, sugary gels, and the ever expanding array of energy bars can bolster performance, which encourages many gym goers to take the bait. But, if people are already obtaining the calories they need, and this is often the case for those who are having a hard time losing weight, excess calories from sport foods can easily end up as extra wiggle around the middle. The same goes for post exercise protein shakes that are then followed up by an uncalculated meal. Even trendy coconut water can deliver unnecessary sugar calories.
Plan of Attack: Evaluate the volume and intensity of exercise to determine if there could be a benefit from the added energy boost of gels or bars. For typical exercise sessions lasting an hour, water should suffice, followed by a clean whole food snack or meal. It’s only when athletes are active for an hour or more at high intensity that they should consider forms of supplemental energy like an electrolyte drink. Athletes involved in daily, high intensity workouts can turn to bars and protein drinks for the extra calories and nutrients they need to meet training demands, but the average gym-goer who works up a sweat a few times a week should be encouraged to stick with nonengineered whole foods; this will do a better job at controlling both calorie intake and appetite.