There you are…in the middle of the grocery store. You look down at your list and it says “healthy snack”. You look around at the shelves full of colorful labels all beckoning to you. In your head you hear your own screams. “Healthy snack?! What the h3ll does that mean?!”
The New Year has come and gone. You’re trying to eat healthily. I know you are. What does that really mean, when you are constantly bombarded with messages from food manufacturers and their pretty labels? The beautiful words on the labels are screaming at you to “Look at me! Buy me! I’m healthy!” Many of those loud words are misleading or downright false. A quick aside…some food manufacturers pay the American Heart Association hundreds of thousands of dollars to get the heart-healthy label put on the front of their package. How do they even sleep at night?!
Here is my list of foods that appear to be healthy but are not.
1. Fat-free or low-fat yogurt and other low-fat/no-fat foods
You’ve decided to change the way you eat and one of the 1st food swaps you make is your mid-morning snack. You swap the un-healthy donut for a fat-free or low-fat yogurt with fruit already mixed in. How easy is that…Not so fast… Back in the ‘80s and ‘90s when low-fat/no-fat was all the rage, food manufacturers started removing the wonderfully, satiating and creamy fat from yogurt. If the fat is removed, how will it be palatable? By adding sugar, and fruit laden with sugar. Below is the nutrition label for a 1-cup serving of nonfat yogurt with fruit. Holy Sugar Bombs! Those 46.55 grams of sugar amounts to more than 11.5 teaspoons of sugar…More than a can of regular soda.
2. Agave Nectar
I get it…you’re looking for an alternative to table sugar and high fructose corn syrup (HFCS). Along comes agave nectar to save the day. Also called agave syrup. It must be better than sugar because it’s “natural”, right? HFCS is about 50/50 glucose and fructose. Agave is about 85% fructose. That puts it low on the Glycemic Index because there isn’t much glucose in it, it doesn’t readily turn to glucose in the body. Instead, it goes straight to the liver without stimulating insulin. Once in the liver, it restores glycogen stores. If there is no more room than the fructose goes straight to fat in the blood- leading to high blood triglycerides and insulin resistance.
3. Vegetable Oils
Vegetable oils being healthy for you, took on a life of its own when we became afraid of fat, more specifically, saturated fat. But let’s take a closer look. Most vegetable oils are polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs), which are quite heat sensitive. When these fragile fats get heated, they turn into toxic compounds, including trans-fats…even though the label says it’s trans-fat free…causing inflammation throughout the body. Another reason to avoid vegetable oil is damage it causes to the brain, not just the body. The oxidative stress it produces makes it hard for the neural signals to travel from one brain cell to the other. What does that mean? It means brain fog and neuro-degeneration.
4. Gluten Free Junk Foods
Are you gluten-intolerance or do you have a gluten-sensitivity? Just like most foods, gluten-free foods can be healthy or unhealthy. Many gluten-free processed foods (cookies, cakes, muffins, etc.) are just that…processed. Just like regular gluten-laden processed foods. They are made with refined starches like rice flour, tapioca starch, and potato starch, which are low in vitamins, minerals and fiber. Just like regular junk food, these gluten-free foods lead to over-eating and cravings. Cheetos are considered “gluten-free”, but I don’t even consider it food. Do you?
5. Fruit Juices
Fruit juice is not as it seems. Most people believe that fruit juice is a healthy thing. And why not? It has the word “fruit” in it. I used to believe it too. Yet, even the higher quality juices go through a process that ends up removing the flavor, making it necessary to add “flavor packs” to make them taste like the original fruit. Not only that, many fruit juices have just as much total sugar and calories as popular soft drinks. So if you want the taste of fruit…eat the whole fruit. That way you won’t overconsume this concentrated form of sugar and you get the all the vitamins, minerals, fiber and other wonderful nutrients along with it.
6. Most Salad Dressings
Ahhh the healthy salad. Yes, eating lots of greens and vegetables and some protein is good for you. Don’t get fooled, however. When you start adding salad dressings with added sugar and the vegetable oils mentioned above, you are not doing your body or your brain any favors.
Take this popular salad dressing for example. The first ingredient is soybean oil…one of the most inflammatory oils to consume. Further down the ingredient list is Monosodium Glutamate (MSG), which has been proven to be quite toxic to the body and the brain. I thought for sure nobody used that ingredient anymore. The next ingredient is artificial flavors. Nothing artificial should ever be consumed.
7. Granola Bars
Have you actually seen the label of a common granola bar? It is full of refined sugars, high fructose corn syrup and unhealthy, artery-clogging trans fats. One bar can contain 7 teaspoons of sugar or more. On this label, there are 3 different kinds of sugar. Don’t be fooled, sugar should be the 1st most abundant ingredient on this label, not hidden among the many other ingredients.
8. Bonus! Artificial sweeteners
Because you’ve read this far, I’ll throw in a bonus food for you.
Let me repeat…nothing artificial should ever be consumed. That goes for sweeteners as well. Even when you are trying to reduce the amount of sugar you are eating, switching to artificial sweeteners is not a good idea. They are just as harmful to you as sugar itself, maybe more so. Studies of shown the significantly increased risk of type 2 diabetes and increased consumption of artificial sweeteners. One study found that daily consumption of diet soda was associated with a 36% greater risk of metabolic syndrome and a 67% greater risk of type 2 diabetes.
What’s the takeaway today? You are what you eat, so don’t be fast, cheap or fake. I tell my nutrition coaching clients “If you see it advertised on TV, don’t buy it.” Food companies spend a lot of money getting you to buy foods that are made with the cheapest ingredients with the longest shelf life. Don’t fall victim to their marketing lies.
If you feel like you need help navigating the world of nutrition and are overwhelmed with too much information, take advantage of my special offer today…your life is too valuable. I am offering a complimentary “It’s Not Your Fault” Discovery Session to all my readers. Schedule your 30-minute session today!
Thank you for reading. Now, go be awesome!
Phyllis Guy – Changing Lives One Bite at a Time
Owner of Natural Body Wisdom (www.MyNaturalBodyWisdom.com)