We as a culture tend to give in to fads and quick fixes, and this is no different with our diets. If i could eat a frozen meal for every meal and get all the nutrients I need, I totally would. Unfortunately, most people are regularly having these types of meals because it’s quick and easy. No one is intentionally trying to harm their health, but when life is busy and you have so many responsibilities, a good home made meal seems impossible. So, there is no judgement in this post because I am still struggling with making a good healthy meal every meal as well because I’m busy or honestly just lazy. It’s important that we don’t cheat ourselves by choosing food items that we think are healthy and quick at the same time, when in fact they are the farthest thing from being healthy. It makes me mad that food companies do not have much regulation over what labels they put on their food such as “organic” and “high fiber” when it’s essentially a lie. There’s so much more than just 15 food items but here are ones that I find to be the most common and most deceiving. If you tend to choose these items all the time then you don’t have to quit them all at once but try to figure out how to start cutting them out of your diet, or how to make them using healthier ingredients at home.
1. Twig & Flake Cereals
If a cereal is organic, made with whole grains, high in fiber or with flax seeds, it doesn’t mean it’s automatically good for you. Organic sugar is still sugar and a lot of organic cereals use the same or more sugar than the other brands. Don’t be fooled by high-fiber cereals as well.They’re usually replaced with added fiber that is not as absorbable to make up for the fact that they’re full of over-processed, refined grains.
What should I Use: Look for cereals that have less than 6 grams of sugar per serving and short lists of ingredients. Prevention magazine gives us a list of “these 10 cereals that are a good place to start“. Go for whole grains, freeze-dried fruits, and unprocessed nuts, not artificial sweeteners or added fibers.
2. Protein Bars
Granola bars and protein bars have gained a reputation as a health food, but in most cases they have so much sugar.They can often be full of corn syrup, GMO soy protein, and hydrogenated oils. There are a few bars out there that are made with fruit and nuts, or sweetened more naturally with dates and honey, so look at the ingredients before you eat it.
3. Low-fat foods
“Fat has been taken out of our foods because we were told it would clog our arteries and make us fat. Ever since that misguided advice, we’ve become the fattest and most chronically sick nation in the world”.
We need healthy fats for our bodies. Our brains, immune systems, hormones and cell function depend on this precious macronutrient. On top of being deficient in healthy fats, when a food is labeled “low-fat” it typically means they replaced the fat with lots of processed sugar or chemicals.
Fat doesn’t make us sick and gain weight; it’s what we have done to the fat that is the problem. Factory farmed animal fat, partially hydrogenated fats, highly processed oils like canola and vegetable will all lead to inflammation and chronic illness
What should I Use: Eat good fatty foods. Avocados, coconut oil, pastured eggs, full fat grass-fed kefir, and if you eat meat, fatty wild caught fish and grass fed beef.
4. Fruit Juice or Smoothie
Everyone seems to promote juicing as a healthy habit, which is good because juicing fresh vegetables is a great way to fill your body with nutrients and antioxidants. The problem begins when we over consume fruit juiced such as a V8, Naked Juice or Jamba Juice. There is so much sugar concentrated into one glass. Drinking all that sugar will send your insulin levels through the roof, and can promote weight gain. Juicing dark, leafy greens with things like cucumber, celery, lemon, and ginger is a great idea, and you can add small amounts of apples and carrots to sweeten your drink.
5. Whole Wheat
Products labeled as “whole wheat” are often highly processed and fill your system with gluten.Gluten drains your energy and a trigger for inflammation, even in people who aren’t allergic. If you want to eat grains, choose gluten-free alternatives like quinoa, brown rice, or millet. There are some gluten-free breads on the market that are less processed, but remember to check the ingredients for added sweeteners, preservatives, or high-glycemic fillers like potato, corn, or rice starch. Sprouted grain bread, although it’s not gluten-free, can be easier to digest for some people.
6. Diet Soda
We know now that the artificial sweeteners used in many sugar drinks are linked to chronic disease, and they actually make you gain weight. One study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that drinking just 12 ounces of diet soda a week increased risk of diabetes by 33%. Drinking 20 ounces of diet soda per week increased risk of diabetes by 66%!What Should I Do: stick to water or sparkling water with fresh lemon or lime.
7. Sugar-free foods
This misguiding food labeling term confuses many people who are trying to avoid sugar. They consume sugar-free and “diet” drinks or food, thinking they’re picking the better option. This just adds more artificial sweeteners and lists of ingredients we can’t even pronounce, which in turn causes more health issues and can cause weight gain.
8. Gluten-free snack foods
The gluten free popularity has brought along a lot of unhealthy options. They contain nutrient deficient gluten-free rancid oils, gluten-free processed sugar, and gluten-free refined grains. Just because something is labeled “gluten free” does not make it healthy for you.
9. Foods labeled “All Natural”
Everything in the supermarket now is labeled “All Natural”. The problem is when someone buys their foods based on marketing terms, they really have no idea what they’re getting. The word “natural” when used on a boxed food label basically means nothing. Anything, as long as it originally came from the earth can be labeled “natural.” No matter how processed or nutrient-deficient that food may be, it can still be called “natural.”
What Should I Do: Read the ingredients, not just the food labels. If you can’t pronounce the ingredients, you should stay away.
10. Fruit and Yogurt Parfaits
For breakfast, a fruit-and-yogurt parfait seems like a good option when out at a coffee shop or restaurant. Unfortunately, they often times have the same amount or more sugar than if you went with the muffin or pastry. Most have at least 30-50 grams of sugar, which is crazy.
What Should I Do: If you are at a coffee shop, look for the plain cups of yogurt and fresh fruit. If you like it sweet, add some stevia or honey.
11. Frozen Veggie Burgers
I’ve never been able to enjoy a frozen veggie burger, but they are pretty popular.These frozen veggie patties are made from highly processed soy or “textured vegetable protein,” which is derived from soy and/or wheat,not veggies. It’s actually hard to find a veggie burger that is made with actual veggies.
What Should I do: Prevention magazine says “choose veggie burgers that aren’t made from soy but get their protein from whole, unprocessed foods like beans, seeds, and whole grains”. They suggest Hilarys’ Eat Well Adzuki Bean Burger
12. Frozen Yogurt
I’ve always felt healthier when I choose to go to froyo instead of some other dessert spot. But unfortunately, plain froyo has about the same amount of sugar as the really good flavors. ½-cup of self-serve froyo has around 25 grams of sugar with no toppings.
What Should I Do: Get some plain Greek yogurt and top it with fresh fruit, chocolate chips, granola, and/or a drizzle of honey
This seems like a better option than some other fast food restaurants, but if you’re eating it often, then there’s a chance you’re getting way too much Mercury in your system. Fish commonly utilized in sushi rolls, like tuna, sea bass, and swordfish, are among the ocean’s worst for mercury contamination.
What Should I Do: Check out the Natural Resources Defense Council’s “guide to choosing low-mercury (and sustainable) sushi fish” for when you order.
14. Dried fruit
When cooking I tend to munch on dried cranberries and then have them in my salad. It seems ok because it’s fruit, but in fact, fresh fruit is made mostly of water. When you dry fruit out, then you are reducing the water volume and increasing the amount of sugar. Dried fruit also has added refined sugar to enhance the flavor and taste.
15. Energy Drinks
Avoid energy drinks that contain caffeine, sugar, too much salt, or ingredients you can’t pronounce. People rely on them for energy but instead they are just draining their adrenal glands which will cause even more exhaustion.
If you consume these items often, try cutting down the amount you have. Your body will thank you so much! Happy health!