Eating healthy can be confusing. Here are 10 foods you may be purchasing thinking that you are doing yourself a favor but you actually should be avoiding. Let me help you make smarter choices on your journey to health.
And not hard because the person lacks the will power, but hard because the information out there is so misleading.
So many of my friends have shared with me that they had been eating something for years because they THOUGHT it was healthy, only to find out it really was not the case.
How do we keep all the marketing and information out there straight?
Well, after dozens and dozens of requests, I am sharing with you the foods that you may think are healthy but are truly NOT.
And after coming up with my list–well, it was way too overwhelming to share in one post! There are A LOT of foods out there that have mislead many people, smart people! So I choose the top 10 offenders (in my opinion).
10 Foods You Think are Healthy But are NOT
- Whole Grain Bread
- Granola Bars/Protein Bars
- Hydration Drinks/Vitamin Waters
- Veggie Chips
- Protein Powder
- Salad Dressings
- Trail Mix
- Pre-made smoothies
Let’s break this down.
Have you taken a look at the ingredients of most cereals: BHT, food coloring, sugar, caramel coloring. Not to mention they are often full of sugar!
Let’s break down one cereal most parents think is a good choice:
Honey Nut Oats: 1oo calories, 3 grams of protein, and 1 gram of fat per serving. Sounds good right?
Well, one serving is only 3/4 of a cup–That wouldn’t fill up a 2 year old, let alone an adult! So most people eat WAY more than 1 serving. And one serving has 9 grams of sugar, imagine what a full bowl has (try like 20 grams of sugar!) Not to mention that unless you are buying a wholesome brand, there is added food coloring and BHT.
Bottom Line: Buy organic or wholesome simple cereals that have less than 10 grams of sugar per serving and serve them as part of a homemade trail mix, or stick to one serving for a snack–NOT BREAKFAST, the most important meal of the day.
Looking for a quick breakfast? Try my Carrot Cake Baked Oatmeal that you can make the night before, or make waffles or pancakes on the weekend and freeze them for busy weekdays. Serve with fresh fruit.
Craving granola? Try my homemade version.
2. Whole Grain Bread
I can not tell you how many people THINK they are eating bread that is higher quality then white bread, when it just says whole grain.
There is SO MUCH MORE to consider when buying bread.
- Be sure it is 100% whole grain (not whole wheat with added enriched flour)
- That it does not have hydrogenated oils in the ingredients–yes, some breads made from your bakery store are 100% whole wheat, but made with trans fat!
- Look for breads with no high fructose corn syrup.
- Watch out for preservatives.
Let me tell you that it is hard to find a bread at most grocers that fit this bill that do not cost $6 a loaf. Save yourself preservatives and money and make your own bread–I promise you it tastes a million times better than anything you buy and YOU CAN DO IT!!!
Okay, first of all let me say, I eat yogurt in some way or another everyday. So why is it on my list of no-nos? Because, most people buy vanilla yogurt or individual packs of flavored yogurt.
STOP!!! Most these yogurts not only cost you an arm and a leg, but they have more added sugars, than a bowl of ice cream!
If they are not loaded with sugars, chances are they filled with artificial sweeteners and/or food coloring.
4. Protein Bars/Granola Bars
Honestly, most granola bars and protein bars are more like a candy bar than a wholesome snack. In fact, some protein bars have over 40 grams of added sugar in them!! WOW!! That breaks down to 3 tablespoons of sugar per bar.
To me, that sounds like you are setting yourself up for a sugar crash rather than an afternoon full of energy.
Smaller granola bars that are studded with everyone’s beloved chocolate chips, are typically filled with partially hydrogenated oils. Even when buying a more natural brand, they are typically expensive and they may not have hydrogenated oils or high fructose corn syrup, but have just as much brown rice syrup and very little fiber or protein to make the snack sustaining.
So what are you to do? Let’s face it, granola bars/protein bars are a great grab and go option. You can make your own granola bars or fruit and nut bars. I personally love my Chocolate Covered Cherry Protein bites for an afternoon pick me up and sweet treat that is healthier.
Not ready to do that or need a quick option last minute?
Look for bars that are made only of fruits, nuts, and whole grains. Or grab a handful of nuts with a piece of fruit. What about whole wheat crackers and cheese? Just be sure to get some healthy fats and a bit of protein from every snack and you will be able to power through your hunger spells, without adding excess sugar to your diet–and sugar is what is causing most people’s weight and health issues, not fat!
5. Hydration Drinks/Vitamin Water (Sports Drinks)
This is one I really have an issue with and I apologize in advance if I come on a bit harsh.
I am really not sure why we have become obsessed with sports drinks in our society. I don’t think I attend a child’s sporting event without seeing over half the children downing brightly flavored beverages loaded with sugars or artificial sweeteners. And they are almost always the beverage of choice by the parent on snack duty.
Do you know that these beverages were designed to replace large amounts of electrolytes lost after hours and hours of physical exertion? Not after a bunch of 6 year olds run around for an hour!!
By encouraging our children to drink these beverages, typically we are replacing their desire to drink plain water! Most kids, mine included, are going to choose a red sugary drink over water–especially if they think they NEED it. Honestly, I WOULD rather drink a fruity flavored beverage at times too!
I am telling you that in most cases, WATER, is what you and your child should be drinking. Be sure to drink plenty of water the day before, the morning of, during, and after physical activity.
If you have fear of dehydration due to excessive physical activity, physical activity in heat, or a stomach virus. Stick to a homemade hydration solution or a sports drink made without food coloring, artificial sweeteners, and high fructose corn syrup–they do exist, you just have to look closely at ingredients.
6. Veggie Chips
Not only are these “chips” more expensive, the most popular brand is not much more than rice powder or potato powder that has been colored with vegetable puree. Some are even seasoned with highly processed chemicals like MSG.
So what does that break down to? A low fiber, low vitamin filler that does not even give you a quarter serving of veggies per serving.
My advice when you want something salty?
Stick to regular potato chips, carrot chips, or sweet potato chips that have 3 ingredients: the vegetable, the oil, and salt. It is a treat not to be eaten everyday, but let’s face it, a regular chip is much more satisfying and it is REAL food.
Another option is roasted corn, roasted edamame, roasted chick peas, or roasted peas–so yummy and salty.
7. Protein Powder
Protein powder is all the rage. Unfortunately, it is usually full of sugar, artificial sugars, and/or artificial flavorings.
The exception to this: 100% whey, soy, rice powder. BUT most people don’t want to touch that with a ten-foot pole because it tastes disgusting!
Most people, do not need protein powder. For a time in my life when my weight was dangerously low, I did use 100% unflavored whey powder in my oatmeal to help boost my calories.
However, there are much more natural ways to boost your protein intake (besides eating meat!) Try adding Greek yogurt, ricotta, or cottage cheese to your smoothies or in your pancakes. All 3 are awesome swirled into oatmeal as well. Mix an egg into your oatmeal before cooking for an extra boost of protein as well. A scoop of peanut butter or almond butter goes a long way too! And for high protein grains, think quinoa–it is a superfood when it comes to protein.
8. Salad Dressings
First of all salad dressing are once again a pricey item, when most everyone has the making of a delicious dressing in their pantry. And what you are paying for is typically a laundry list of chemicals and additives. MSG, caramel coloring, added sugars, and on and on.
For me, I keep it simple on busy nights and drizzle either balsamic vinegar or fresh lemon with a bit of extra virgin olive oil and salt and pepper. Simple and wonderful in taste.
9. Trail Mix
Trail mix is an awesome snack for on the go. But the most that you buy at the stores is not just nuts, chocolate and dried fruit. Look a little closer a the ingredients. Notice that the dried fruit is covered in sugar and the nuts have been roasted in oils. And the chocolates may have food coloring and hydrogenated oils.
Make your own–you will not only save money (once again) but you can be as creative as you want. One of my favorites is cashews, almonds, raisins, roasted edamame, dark chocolate chips, and toasted oats (that doesn’t have preservatives!)
10. Pre-made Smoothies
These bad boys have so much sugar in them they are insane!! Again, it is much more than a typical candy bar. And sugar from fruits and vegetables is one thing. The problem lies in the ADDED sugars–which most have! Not to mention their size. Some of them are so large that you are likely to experience a sugar crash after drinking that much pure sugar.
So make your own. You will once again save money, calories, and sugar intake! Try out my Pina Colada, Superfood Super Smoothie, or my Green Smoothie. If you really need to limit your sugars more, sub out some the 100% fruit juice for water or plain almond milk.
There you have it–my list and explanation as to why should you STOP buying these certain foods. Did you notice that most of these foods are high in sugar and are typically pricey. So not only am are you saving yourself a sugar crash and lessening your risk of many health issues in the future by not eating these foods, you are saving yourself MONEY!! Thanks for sticking with me this long 🙂
I would love to hear from you your questions regarding healthier food choices.