Food advertisers are quite savvy in capturing our attention. From claims like “fat free” to “no sugar added”, we are surrounded by foods that claim to be healthy and good for you. And, magazines and other health sources tell us to switch from processed junk food to these healthier options because it’ll help us lose weight, improve energy and lead a happier life.
The problem with these claims is that we aren’t really given the whole truth. We’re told that to lose weight and be healthy that we need to avoid junk – this is great. But when we’re told, instead, to switch to processed ‘natural’ foods or items made with whole grains, we forget that we are just turning to another source of processed food.
And, we know that when we eat junk food we should only eat a small amount, but healthy food is good for us, so we often eat more than what we actually need. Take avocados – they are a great source of healthy fat (which your body needs to promote fat loss) but so many recipes call for large amounts of avocados and these little wonders are full of fat and calories. Eat avocado for every meal or dig into that salad that has an entire avocado sliced on top and you’re asking for trouble!
Unfortunately, some of the most popular choices for ‘healthy’ foods that we are told to eat by magazines and celebrities are not that good for you in the long run (and most will actually cause weight gain).
Read on to find out if your ‘healthy’ favorite is on the ‘caution’ list!
Smoothies are delicious when made with the right ingredients and they can be a satisfying snack when you need something quick. However, most smoothies are based on fruits and fruit juice, which both spike your blood sugar immediately, resulting in a huge sugar crash later on. Over time, these sugar rushes cause your cells to become insulin resistant and weight starts to pack on. And, with all the new ‘superfoods’ out there being added to your smoothies, you end up with a snack that has hundreds of calories (instead of the 150-200 that a good snack should have).
- Flavored yogurt:
Yogurt has its problems on two counts: First, fat-free flavored yogurt has a ton of added sugar in it. See above for what happens when you inundate your body with large amounts of sugar (and a few smoothies call for yogurt as a ‘healthy’ addition). Second, dairy-based yogurt is pro-inflammatory, which means your immune system is working overtime to deal with the proteins in it and in turn your cortisol rises (the stress hormone that makes you fat) and you feel bloated and puffy.
- Diet pop:
Ah, diet pop…how I loathe thee! People think that by drinking aspartame-laden pop that they’re free from the perils of sugar. Not so fast. Artificial sweeteners are actually many times sweeter than refined white sugar so they cause a massive spike in blood sugar. This leads to an even bigger risk of insulin resistance and eventually type II diabetes. Artificial sweeteners also slow down metabolism over time.
Children may be more at risk of developing a weight problem when it comes to breakfast cereals because marketing campaigns aim their product at kids and most kids’ cereals contain way more sugar and salt than those directed at adults. However, even adult cereals are not very good for you because they contain added sugar and other processed ingredients. You’re better off with old fashioned rolled oats or homemade sugar-free granola than with any store-bought cereal. If your doctor has told you to eat Bran Buds for more fiber, you’re best to skip that advice and have oatmeal instead.
- Organic and Gluten-Free Processed Foods:
If it says ‘organic’, it must be good! Well, to put it simply, any food that comes in a box, jar, plastic container or bag is processed, regardless of whether it contains organic ingredients or not. Processing foods strips out a lot of nutrients and food companies have to add in stuff to make up for it, like sugar, sweeteners, and other bad ingredients. Gluten-free processed foods are the same – let me clear up a misconception: gluten-free does not equal healthy.
We’ve been told for decades that the fat in butter is bad while margarine is low in fat so it must be good for you. Plus, it has that heart health checkmark and is made with olive oil now so it must be fine, right? Nope. Margarine is simply processed vegetable oils and artificial colors and preservatives – none of these things are good for you! Grass fed butter contains healthy saturated fats that your body uses.
- Whole Wheat bread:
While it’s better than refined white bread, whole wheat bread is still processed to the point that most of the good things about whole grains – fiber, vitamins, minerals – have been removed. Wheat is another pro-inflammatory food for a lot of people, which can make you feel bloated and puffy after eating it, too.
- Red Wine:
Yes, organic red wine can still be good for you in small quantities (think 1 5-ounce glass a day). However, alcohol is detoxified by the liver using the same enzymes and nutrients that are used to neutralize estrogen in the body. When estrogen can’t be broken down, it continues to circulate and triggers fat cells to store more toxins, glucose and other stuff in them, making them grow.
- Trail Mix:
I am a trail mix fanatic! I can tell you first hand that too much trail mix can make you fat! Trail mix is chock full of healthy nuts but nuts are crazy-high calories in a small package; add in dried fruit and chocolate pieces and you’ve got hundreds of calories in a small handful. Try only eating 1 handful – I dare you!
Your biggest take-away from this article is to pay attention to what you’re eating and think before choosing certain ‘healthy’ foods. Learn to check all labelled foods for added sugars and sweeteners, and remember that some healthy foods are very high in fat and calories. If you need to binge eat something healthy, stick to fruit and vegetables – they’re much lower in calories and they are the best sources for most of your vitamins and minerals for lifelong health.
Would you like to get some new recipes for tasty meals that don’t contain many (or any) processed foods? Check out my 21-Day Total Body Detox Program – you’ll get awesome recipes, a meal plan to help you reset your healthy eating habits and set you up for a lifetime of healthy food choices!