‘Guilt-free’ pleads GUILTY

by Dr. Daamini Shrivastav

August 1, 2015


  • Nut butters are rich in mono-saturated fats and an ideal source for this macronutrient.
  • A salad for lunch. Can’t go wrong there!
  • Frozen yoghurt has to be healthier than ice-cream
  • Fruit smoothies are the new nutritious morning pick-me-up you need
  • Nuts, dried fruit mixes, whole grain low-fat cereals and granola bars are excellent healthy sources of energy, protein and fibre
  • Sports & Energy drinks are a great way to refuel after a workout
  • Margarine has less calories than butter therefore is healthier


  • Stay clear of branded nut butters. Read the label and ensure the one you’re consuming has 3 ingredients at the max, which include the nut, salt, and palm oil. Anything more and you’re steering away from ‘healthy’.
  • Beware the salad dressing, which is loaded with artificial additives, cream, vegetable oils, trans fats and sugar thereby making your healthy greens and veggies deadly. Opt instead for vinaigrettes of lemon juice, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, orange juice, white wine vinegar etc. Keep it simple and make the dressing yourself. Another trick at restaurants is to order the dressing on the side and use just 1-2 teaspoons worth in your salad successfully controlling the calories being consumed.
  • It’s shocking when you realize there is almost little or no difference in the calorie content between frozen yoghurts and ice-cream. Why? Because to enhance the flavors of the yoghurts, sugar is added in criminal quantities. A tiny container of fruit yoghurt packs 25 grams of sugar alone and that is your entire daily-recommended intake’s worth. Factor in the toppings you choose at the mall and your frozen yoghurt is now running abreast with ice-cream in the unhealthy race.
  • These smoothies are wolves in sheep’s clothing! Sugar rich and devoid of fruit fibre these smoothies are lethal in that they can pack 600-700 calories per serving and cause your blood sugar levels to peak sharply and then crash within 60-90 minutes. Make your smoothies at home and blend the entire fruit to ensure quality, quantity and ingredient control. Ensure the sweetening agents are only fruits and ensure the base of every smoothie is 2-3 cups worth of greens like kale and/or spinach. Along the same lines are fruit juices. Steer clear of bottled/boxed fruit juices for the same reasons; make your own, blending the whole fruit with water.
  • Yes whilst it is true, packaged nuts, dried fruit and granola bars pack insane amounts of sugar, salt and artificial flavors. The same goes for the whole-grain low-fat cereals. Safest is to buy plain nuts and snack on them or make your own granola at home limiting the chemicals that go into it. Dried fruit can be devilish as it has very high sugar content so consume under strict control.
  • Nope! Not even close. Packed with sugar and chemicals. Stick to water and add some salt and lemon if you want electrolyte. Other than that if you eat a well-balanced diet then your body doesn’t need assistance in achieving a balance of electrolytes post a sweaty gym session
  • Margarine is not food but just an assembly of chemicals and refined oils that have been made to look and taste like food.


  • These items are marginally better than consuming well-documented junk food like fast-foods, deep-friend and calorie-dense desserts
  • Tiny amount of credit needs to be given to them for creating an awareness and the need to look and opt for healthier alternatives


  • These foods are dangerously addictive due to the nature of sugars and flavor enhancing chemicals they contain and worse still, because psychologically you’ve been tricked into thinking they’re healthy, you consume copious amounts.

My Take

If you read my last article you’d have noticed how food manufacturers use buzzwords like “organic”, “gluten-free” and “sugar free” to market their products and hey presto! the items are selling off the shelves quicker than hot cakes. A few cleverer people then teamed these buzzwords with foods that are known to be healthy, packaged them attractively and now we have junk food masquerading as health food flying off the shelves…


But the frozen yoghurt you make at home doesn’t quite taste like the one from shopping malls does it? Nor does the homemade granola when compared to the granola bars at the supermarket check out counter? And no matter how hard you try, your kitchen nut-butters never are as luscious as the ones in branded jars!


You know what – they shouldn’t because again, flip the labels and read the ingredients and get ready to groan in dismay again. ‘Guilt-free’ is now guilty as charged!


How to avoid this treacherous trickery? Make your own food. Make your own fruit yoghurts using plain fruit and yoghurt. Make your own juices and smoothies where you know exactly what’s going into the blender. Make your own granola where the ingredients are not a list but just a handful in number. Because real food doesn’t need an ingredients’ list; real food IS the ingredient !

Dr. Daamini Shrivastav


Dr. Daamini Shrivastav

Juggling many roles from physician to writer to pilates instructor to Marketing-PR executive, Dr. Daamini is constantly pushed and inspired to get creative on how to encompass a Retreat into her daily life.
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