It’s the beginning of a new year, and we’re all (hopefully) working on being healthier!! On your journey to health, I want to point out some things to look out for when you are shopping for healthy foods. The food industry is very sneaky and tricky. They know that we want to be healthier, so they put labels on their products and market them in ways that make us think that we are nourishing our bodies. Here is my top list of culprits:
- Protein bars:
Don’t get me wrong here… I eat protein bars and rely on them often to power through a workout or busy day when I don’t have access to other quality protein sources. However, these are
the worst when it comes to fake health foods. They are often filled with sugar, unhealthy fats, salt, and genetically modified ingredients. Make sure that you are reading the nutrition facts and ingredient lists. 9 out of 10 are going to have things that aren’t good for you. Some of the most popular unhealthy bars are Clif, Atkins, PowerBar, Nature Valley, Balance, Odwalla, Luna, and even some Larabars. High sugar content is the most common problem.
My advice: First and foremost, try to get your protein from the most natural source possible, NOT from these glorified candy bars. Look for bars that have an ingredient list of whole, recognizable foods. My favorite brand is KIND. You know EXACTLY what is in them. Their bars provide a whole and natural source of protein without added sugars and sodium to make them taste like cookie dough, brownies, or peanut butter cookies….
- Dried Fruit
It’s fruit, so it’s healthy right? Nooooooo! This one is very common. Most packages dried fruit have added sugars to make them taste better, and sulfites to preserve color. Beyond that, they are dehydrated. That is not an evil word. Water please!! Eating the real thing will keep you full longer and cuts on calories and sugar. Consider this:
1 cup of fresh chopped apple with the skin has: 65 calories, 13 grams of sugar
1 cup of dried apples (without added sugar) has: 145 calories, 34 grams of sugar
My advice: If you are going to use dry fruit for convenience, chose one without added sugars or sulfites, and add it in with raw nuts and seeds to make a trail mix. That way, you aren’t eating straight sugar as a snack.
Why does the food industry ruin a perfectly healthy food? Both plain yogurt and greek yogurt brands make flavored yogurt with some sort of manufactured fruit like substance. Please don’t fall into this trap. Yes, they taste good, but that’s because they have either A) a ton of sugar, or B) Sucralose or some other fake sugar that make it taste sweet but wreaks havoc on your body. Beware of those “100 calorie” labels especially.
My advice: Get plain yogurt, which naturally has sugar in the form of lactose. Then add some fresh fruit for flavor. If greek yogurt is too bitter, you can add a bit of raw, local honey (sparingly) orstevia as well.
- Instant Oatmeal
Yes, oatmeal increases your HDL – the healthy cholesterol in your body, and is a “good for you food”. It is warm, and it keeps you full for a long time – what’s not to love? Instant oatmeal is not to love. It’s highly processed, so the fiber that we are looking for is stripped away. Plus, like everything else, there is added “flavor” in the form of sugar.
My advice: Chose steel cut oats. Keep your portions in check, and add fresh fruit for sweetness, and raw nut butters for healthy fat. WINNING 🙂
- Plant Based “Meat Like” Products
I know that I might get some kick-back on this one. The truth is, that I’ve been some version of a meat limiting consumer since 2005. I have eaten many of these products, and I’m very grateful to now know the good from the bad.
The most prominent issue with these faux meat products is that they use genetically modified soy. The list of health issues being linked to GMO’s (genetically modified organisms) is growing – sterility, liver malfunction, weakened immune system just to name a few.
Secondly, most of the soy in these products (listed as soy protein isolate, textured vegetable protein, or soy protein concentrate) have undergone hexane processing. Basically, it’s an inexpensive way for the company to extract protein from the plant. Hexane is labeled a “neurotoxin” by the CDC, but is not required by the FDA to be put onto food labels in the United States.
My advice: If you are vegan, or vegetarian, do your research to figure out which plant based foods that you need to consume in combination on a daily basis to get all of the essential amino acids, thus consuming “complete protein”. If you must buy the vegan/vegetarian processed food, make sure that they are non-GMO, and don’t use hexane processing. A few on the acceptable list are: Boca organic products, Amy’s organics, Trader Joe’s organic tofu burger, and Wildwood