It’s a fact: fitness people love peanut butter. It’s everywhere, in everything, with people professing their pb love all over the place.
What’s also interesting is how this food has gained a reputation as a ‘healthy’ indulgence. I’ll see Instagram photos of apple slices and some JIF peanut butter tagged with #healthysnack on the daily, and it really made me think about which food we perceive to be ‘healthy’ and whether or not that perception is accurate.
Because here’s the thing: peanut butter is a landmine. We keep hearing that nut butters are wonderful and healthy, but there are some major stipulations to that assertion. I’m going to ruin your life by throwing some of them down below.
First of all, when people refer to healthy nut butters, they mean natural ones. So that’s an almond butter without any additives (literally just ground up almonds) or all natural peanut butter. ‘Peanut butter’ like Kraft, Jif, or Skippy DO NOT FALL INTO THIS CATEGORY!! Check out the label for Kraft smooth peanut butter below:
Just looooook at all of those added oils and sugars. Not. Healthy.
The second thing to consider is serving size. Most of us could go to town on a spoonful or five of peanut butter, thinking we’re giving ourselves a healthy treat. Well, friends, you gotta slow your roll. Most natural peanut butters have a serving size of 1-2 tablespoons. And in that 1-2 tablespoons, you can expect to eat over 100 calories along with a significant portion of your daily fat. (It’s healthier fat, but still, it’s fat.) It’s incredibly easy to accidentally eat 350 calories worth of peanut butter without noticing – and it’s little things like this that sabotage weight loss efforts.
Nuts are wonderful things to incorporate into your diet – they are super rich in nutrients and are very filling – but sticking to the serving size (10 almonds. 10 ALMONDS IS ONE SERVING. JUST LET THAT SINK IN.) is critical to ensure that you’re not over-eating and ingesting a bunch of extra fat and calories. The unfortunate thing is that many people aren’t aware of this.
I see the same thing happening with other foods that have earned the ‘healthy’ label. People mindlessly eat them, assuming that since they are ‘healthy’ they won’t cause them to gain weight and they can’t be bad for you. Even with nutrient-rich items, moderation is absolutely key. (I’m lookin’ at you, avocado. Seriously, google how many calories/how much fat is in a whole avocado. Do it. I’m ruining your life again.) Sorry dudes, but literally the only thing you can eat endlessly and with reckless abandon is green veggies. It sucks, I know.
Most people also don’t think critically about the food they’re eating. We are trusting by nature, and so we assume that when a product is marketed to us as being ‘healthy’, it must be true. Unfortunately, it’s usually not true. Company marketing departments everywhere are fully aware of the health trend that we’re seeing around the world as a response to the obesity epidemic. They’re smart – they know that people will be more likely to buy something if it’s shown to be healthy. Brands like Special K, Nutri-Grain, etc. have all positioned themselves in the market as healthy snack alternatives, but in reality, they’re full of processed junk and sugar.
The absolute best thing you can do to fight this is to be aware. Read labels, and look up nutrition information for absolutely everything. If you feel like you need to, measure your food to make sure you’re eating the appropriate serving sizes. You’ll think twice about eating that whole avocado once you know that [spoiler alert] you’re eating 350 calories and about 30 grams of fat. Don’t let the big marketing companies win! You are in charge of your food and your health!
So…. yeah. Sorry to everyone who loves Kraft Smooth PB. 😦 I don’t take pleasure in bursting nutrition bubbles, believe me, but I think stuff like this is super important to share. It has taken me 5 years of my life to learn all of this – so I figure I’ll save you some of the trouble. I promise, natural nut butters are also delicious and satisfying – and you can even make them yourself at home!
Happy Friday everyone!