It is well-known that the stereotypical student doesn’t prioritise healthy living. With long days in the library and a social life often spent in Southampton’s pubs or clubs, careful planning for a nutritious diet can easily be neglected.
Low fat options offer a tasteful spectrum of options, ranging from sugar-free soda drinks, light yoghurts and low-fat made meals wrapped in colourful packaging. The products are easy at hand, and seem to create the perfect healthy diet any student would dream of, with no time wasted on preparation whatsoever. Too good to be true? Yep, sorry to disappoint you.
BBC programme ‘The Big Fat Truth About Low Fat Foods’ has shed unmerciful light on the successful industry of low-fat (and ultimately low calorie) products. Special K cereal promises whole-heartedly that eating the low-fat cereal for two weeks you will get healthier, lose the pounds. Perfect – until you look at the list of contents and realise that, sure, the fat levels are almost zero, but the sugar levels rise to the roof. In fact, a bowl of Special K contains as much sugar as a bowl of ice cream.
Student Olivia Johansson says: “I will not get full from eating only cereals for breakfast. I always need toast or something else to complement the meal, otherwise I get hungry so quickly.” Similarly, Jennifer Ruggier notes: “After I started eating porridge for breakfast, I feel energetic until lunch. That never happened before.” Upon trying the low-fat diet in the BBC programme, Zoe Salmon complained about feeling sluggish and tired. She comments: “I keep forgetting things. I normally never do that.”
Fat provides energy and with no energy, not many revolutionary Nobel Prize ideas will pop. Following a low-fat diet will only give high peaks of sugar levels with instant drops. Mood swings and hunger are sure companions and no students need these when essay and exam periods are closing in.
Not convinced yet? Well, here are some more frightening examples of low-fat food products which secretly boost your body with sprinting sugar molecules. Cereal bars with mouth watering flavours like chocolate and orange hold 5.2 grams of sugar in a tiny 80 calories bar. The delicious Vitamin Water and This Water drinks can contain as much as 42 grams of sugar in one bottle. Normal fizzy drinks hold only 23 grams of sugar per bottle, and there are probably more people than just me who feel cheated by this fact. A diet Coke is worth fewer calories than a normal Coke, but the artificial sweeteners used to make up for the lost flavour only increase your desire for more energy.
Dr. Catherine Appleton has researched the effects of low-fat drinks on calorie consumption, and her conclusion proves that with a diet Coke you actually end up consuming more calories per day. The sweetness in the diet Coke prepares the body for the uptake of energy but as it is not given the stomach rumbles for more food. To curb the hunger a diet Coke drinker has to eat and in doing that the notion of ‘diet’ is ironically lost. Contradictory, Jennifer Ruggier says: “I never feel hungrier after drinking a diet Coke. I only drink it occasionally to quench thirst.”
What’s more, fat is a major component that ensures that the intestines work smooth and discreet. Guinea pig for low-fat diets, Zoe Salmon, felt not only bloated but also gassy. Fat is also important for vitamin intake and proves to be an essential insulation layer beneath the skin. Companies playing alchemists to find a formula for healthy diets are misleading. Do you want them to make money on expense of your health?