8 Not-So-Healthy Foods (that we think are healthy)
Eating healthy can be confusing with so many diet fads and health trends available at our fingertips in seconds. Quinoa, kale, greek yogurt, and protein bars - to name a few - are all over Pinterest and blogs as health foods trends that you need to get on board with ASAP. However, when you dig a little deeper, not all of these foods are as great as they are hyped up to be. (But to be clear, quinoa and kale are a health trend rides you want to get on!)
Here are 8 not-so-healthy foods you should avoid, and what you should eat instead.
1. Yogurt Parfaits
It may seem like the healthier choice when you have to choose between yogurt or donuts and pastries, but yogurt parfaits from coffee shops and cafes are often packed with additional sugar from dried fruit, granola, and honey. A better alternative is to go for an almond or coconut milk yogurt and top it with homemade granola, so you know exactly what you’re eating.
2. Granola Bars
Now that you have yogurt figured out, granola is the next health trend that (for some reason) we believe does wonders for our body - but in reality can be filled with artificial flavors, high-fructose corn syrup, and preservatives. Take a look at the ingredient list next time you pick up a granola bar. It’s actually shocking! High-fructose corn syrup, like all added sugars, contribute to weight gain, type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and heart disease. Your best bet is to find a bar with all whole food, real ingredients, or make your own!
3. Sweetened Almond Milk (and other nut milks)
Almond milk is certainly the better choice when it comes between that or dairy milk - but a common misconception is that any kind of nut or soy milk is good for you. The biggest problem with many nut and soy milks is that they are often also high in sugar and have carrageenan, a food additive from red seaweed used to improve the texture and thickness of milk. Although the FDA recognizes carrageenan as “generally safe”, carrageenan has been shown to increase the risk of stomach ulcers and glucose intolerance. The best choice for store-bought nut and soy milks are ones that are unsweetened and unflavored.
4. Veggie Burgers
While I love a good veggie burger, many commerically produced brands are filled with highly processed soy and preservatives. Try to find ones with minimal ingredients that are whole, real foods such as legumes and vegetables. I really love Dr. Praeger’s Kale Burgers!
5. Vegan, Gluten-Free, and Organic Foods
Just because something is labeled as gluten-free or vegan doesn’t necessarily make it healthy. This can be tricky when products are advertised as being good for you, when really there are many other options that are more healthy. In fact, some of these products such as vegan desserts may have even more empty calories than dairy products. Stay focused on the ingredients and not necessarily whether it’s marked vegan, organic, or gluten-free.
6. Frozen Dinners
Frozen meals are another trend that is advertised as quick and healthy, results in weight-loss... you know the rest. Even the most appealing looking boxes are likely to have long lists of ingredients that you can’t pronounce. If you need something quick and simple, batch cook your meals at the beginning of the week and freeze them in separate containers. If you haven’t realized yet, preparing your own food is always going to be healthier than buying it commercially. By taking this extra step, you are in control of what ingredients go into your body.
7. Veggie Chips
I personally think these are one of the most misleading health trends out there. Unfortunately, you’re getting more artificial coloring and preservatives than veggies in this popular snack. Always check the ingredients on these before buying - avoid ones with potato starch and corn flour in the first few ingredients (or at all). You can actually buy real chips that are more healthy then veggie chips!
8. Pre-made Smoothies and Juices
Pre-made smoothies and juices are refreshing, and quick and easy - the perfect on the go snack, right? Eh, not as much as you think. A lot of these products contain large amounts of sugar and artificial flavors - sometimes even as much sugar as you would find in a soda or candy. Buy (or make your own) smoothies and juices that use as least amount of fruits as possible, and avoid all that include any ingredient other than fruits or vegetables (except protein or other added vitamins and minerals). Green juices are my favorite because they are made entirely from vegetables and packed with immune boosting vitamins and minerals without the sugar.
Do you have any other healthy swaps for these foods? If you do, leave them in the comments!