Do you think you’re eating healthy foods just because you’re choosing the salad option over the burger? Well, as healthy as those leafy greens are, the dressing and additives in it could be sabotaging your attempts toward a healthier diet.
With as hectic as life is these days, the last thing you need to be doing is sifting through long lists of ingredients trying to figure out what is good for you and what isn’t. By sticking to simple healthy choices and avoiding the so called healthy foods below, you’ll find yourself feeling healthier and happier in no time.
It comes from a fruit so it must be healthy, right? Wrong. By the time juice is processed and filled with sugar, additives, and artificial coloring, there is very often little actual fruit left. While fancy advertising of people picking fresh fruit off of trees leads you to believe that you’re putting the same fruit into your body, you’re not. Imagine mixing a cup of water with half a cup of sugar, some food coloring, and a few drops of juice from a fruit. This is what you are actually drinking.
To get the benefits of fruit without downing glasses of sugar, eat the whole fruit instead. Craving a glass of OJ? Eat an orange. Have apple juice on the mind? Eat an apple. It’s that simple. The fruit in its original form is not only healthier, it will also leave you feeling satisfied much longer than a liquid cup of sugar.
If you’re whipping up a big bowl of salad at home, you can monitor exactly what’s going into the bowl and ensure it’s full of only the freshest good-for-you ingredients. Salad gets tricky; however, when you order it from a restaurant. The nutrient rich lettuce and vegetables are often covered in high fat and sugar dressings, not to mention the sugar coated nuts, fruits, and croutons that are sprinkled on top.
For a salad your body will thank you for, stick to the basics. Throw together a big bowl of your favorite lettuce and top it with fresh veggies of your choice. Sprinkle on a low sugar balsamic dressing and enjoy.
3. Wheat Bread
With labels like “Whole Grain” and “Harvest Wheat”, this popular food item can be seen getting consumed in almost every restaurant and house across the country. We’re easily led into believing that wheat bread is good for us because it has beneficial ingredients like fiber; however, added wheat can have a host of negative effects on the body. Most wheat bread is made with refined ingredients, which means they have been stripped of most of their nutritional value. Therefor, instead of consuming heart healthy whole grains, you’re actually filling yourself with unnecessary sugar and processed down ingredients.
Packed with sugar, artificial ingredients, enhanced flavors, and grains that have been refined and processed, cereal is not (despite what marketing wants you to believe) healthy. Not only does it fill you will less than beneficial ingredients, cereal also often leaves you feeling hungry just an hour after you have consumed it. When your body doesn’t get the nutrients it needs, it will beg for more, regardless of the calories you have already consumed
To set yourself up right for the day, whip up some protein rich eggs or fill a bowl with heart healthy oatmeal. Your stomach will be full and your body will be energized from the nutrient rich meal.
5. Granola Bars
Whether eating for breakfast or grabbing as a snack on the go, granola bars have often been America’s go-to “healthy” food in the form of a bar. The problem is that the good-for-you granola has been stripped of most of its nutrients during processing and in the good stuff’s place, sugar has been added instead. Low in fiber and high in trans fats, granola bars should be viewed more like a sugar-laden dessert than a beneficial breakfast or snack.
If you’re a granola lover and don’t want to cut it out of your diet completely, buy plain granola with no additives and enjoy it over oatmeal or mixed in with a bowl of fresh fruit.
6. Sports Drinks
Runners drink it and so should you, right? Not necessarily. While these drinks are marketed as healthy, many of them are filled to the brim with sugar, corn syrup, and artificial food coloring. Some of the ingredients (such as brominated vegetable oil) are so questionable that they are prohibited in other countries. The citric acid in sports drinks has been shown not only to stain teeth, but to also cause unnecessary wear on their enamel.
If you’re looking for a drink that will offer more nutrients than water, whip up a mug of warm water and add a tablespoon of honey, lemon juice, and a pinch of Himalayan Sea Salt. Packed with nutrients, it will replenish any lost electrolytes without negatively impacting your health.
7. Low-Fat Yogurt
It’s low in calories and fat, so it can seem pretty appealing, but low-fat yogurt actually contains a dirty little secret (or two). While plain and Greek yogurts boast amazing benefits due to their high calcium and probiotic content, their low calorie counterparts sabotage the nutrients found within. To replace the flavor lost by removing the product’s fat, additives such as corn starch and artificial sweeteners are put into the yogurt.
These things, in addition to all the preservatives and artificial coloring, can have a detrimental impact on one’s attempt at staying healthy. Stick with full fat yogurt that contains few simple ingredients. Your body will thank you.
8. Packaged Turkey
An excellent source of lean protein, turkey is a fantastic choice for lunch or dinner. The problem with packaged turkey is that it is loaded with sodium. To help keep it fresh, a 2 ounce serving of packaged turkey can contain up to one-third the amount of the recommended daily sodium intake. That’s a lot!
To keep your health on track, opt for fresh slices or pieces of turkey. Roast your own turkey at home. If you’re in a bind, pick up a prepared turkey at the grocery store, just make sure it has less than 350 milligrams of sodium per serving.
9. Dried Cranberries
Who doesn’t love a handful of cranberries in the afternoon? They are an especially enjoyable snack when mixed with almonds or nuts. Dried cranberries are most often sweetened with sugar. Even if they don’t have added sugar, because they are reduced in size, they aren’t as filling. This can lead to consuming even more calories.
If you can’t stomach the bitterness of fresh cranberries by themselves, try adding them to a fruit salad. You’ll end your snack session feeling full – of nutrients, not wasted calories.
10. Protein Powders
We can all agree that adding healthy protein to your diet is a good thing. Fresh sources like eggs, nuts and meats are great. However, there is such a thing as too much protein. It can have detrimental effects on your kidneys and liver. Protein powders boast their high amounts of protein, when in fact the high amounts may actually be too much.
The average person only needs 50-100 grams of protein per day, which is easily consumable via regular meals, drinks, and snacks. Adding in protein powder could overload your system with too much protein (not to mention all the refined ingredients that goes along with it). Do your liver and kidneys a favor and pass by the big tubs of powder the next time you’re out shopping.
You are what you eat, so to be healthy, you have to eat healthy. Remember, good eating doesn’t have to be work. Choose simple ingredients and foods closest to their original form. Your body will thank you!