In modern society, with all of the boxed and processed foods, it can be hard to know what is healthy and what is not. Especially when labels from all over the place that scream “Fat Free” or “Gluten Free.” Then there are the fad and celebrity diets that are hitting from all sides. Some recommend this, some recommend that, but ultimately they all contradict themselves. Even trained dieticians and nutritionists seem to be fighting back and forth over what is healthy and what is not. This can leave people feeling so confused and emotionally exhausted that who wouldn’t just reach for a fast-food burger.
Then there are the sneaky foods. You know the ones. They are believed to be (whether through pop-culture or just myth) incredibly healthy, and by eating them you are doing yourself a huge favour. Not so much! A lot of people don’t realize that most of these foods, when commercially produced or eaten in bulk, are actually really bad for you. Want to know what they are? Keep on reading!
Wait, but these are vegetables. How can they be unhealthy? Well, the key word in this is not veggie, but CHIPS! Everyone knows that, no matter how much the chip companies try to hide it with baked and organic chips, they are still terrible for you. They are fine as a snack every once in a while, but ultimately not a good food to be putting into your body. When you buy a bag of veggie chips, they are prepared in a way that takes out so much of the nutrients of the fruit you might as well get a bag of regular chips. No matter what the companies say, frying is not a healthy way of preparing vegetables. Even cooking or baking vegetables at home can remove a lot of their nutrients. So, if you really want some chips, just buy the actual chips, and if you want to eat healthy, just eat the raw vegetables. Combining a snack like chips with something healthy like vegetables is just a sneaky way of making something seem healthy. Don’t fall for it!
Another common pitfall in the grocery store and beyond is granola. Rumoured to be healthy, and definitely can be, granola is another no-no when it comes to eating healthy. When most ordinary people buy granola bars, they buy them in bulk, and eat at least one whole bar a day (maybe more). However, unless you are planning on running a marathon in the near future (and actually RUN the whole time), even eating one granola bar a day is very much over-kill. Now, as previously mentioned, granola is actually a very healthy food to be eating. When bought in its raw form and prepared with love and careful attention to ingredients and portion sizes at home it is a wonderful snack to munch on. As with most things, however, commercial producers take it that one (or several depending on who you are talking to) step too far. The proper serving size for a single portion of granola is ¼ cup. It is incredibly doubtful that that is what the average person is consuming in a day. This is doubling or tripling the amount of sugar, calories and carbs that are entering your body, not to mention the total lack of fiber. Yuck! So, if you do absolutely love granola and aren’t willing to give it up no matter what, buy your own and load it up with healthy nuts and a very little bit of sugar. If you just don’t have time for this or don’t want to be bothered with making your own, look for the bars that are smaller, or ones that have lots of healthy nuts in them.
Meal Replacement Bars
Is there really anything out there that can replace a healthy and well balanced meal, eaten while sitting down and given your full attention? No, no there is not. However, producers of certain products would have you believe otherwise, particularly those making meal replacement bars. In the last few years, as people’s lives are getting busier and busier, everyone wants a quick and easy fix to fill up and keep on running. Meal replacement bars seem to be an obvious choice, and so have grown to be ridiculously popular. It almost seems too good to be true… and it is! Biting into one of these bars willy nilly can pretty much be the equivalent to biting into the average chocolate bar. A lot of these “healthy” bars are flavoured with sugar, chocolate, etc. all in an effort of making them seem more attractive to the consumer. Ensure that you check the label to see exactly what is in your meal replacement bar. Some are healthy, if you look very closely. It could just be easier to eat an actual meal.
This is another big one that has become almost the ultimate fad. It seems that everyone these days is “gluten free” without actually knowing what gluten is. Gluten is basically a substance found in most cereal grains that is responsible for giving dough its elasticity. It has been found to be inflammatory to those with celiac disease, but to the average person gluten is not the worst thing that anyone can put into their body. Gluten free products, however, can be. In an effort to make up for gluten’s properties in bread products, they are loaded up with sugar, calories, and a lot of chemicals. So bottom line, if gluten doesn’t make you physically ill, just eat it. Your body, and wallet, will thank you.
Low-Sugar or Sugar Free
Yes, in products like this, their labels may not specifically have sugar in the ingredients. However, they have to make up for it somewhere, right? So instead commercial producers of snack food use cheap sugar imitations, which are often carcinogenic. Aspartame is one very commonly used ingredient in items that are “low sugar.” Is it good to cut down on sugar? Yes! Without a doubt! However, if you would like to decrease your sugar intake, do it correctly and look for items that are advertised as “zero sugar,” or just skip out on chocolate bars altogether and have them as a treat once in a while. You truly can’t have your cake and eat it too.
So, in a world gone crazy with different diets, fads, and anything else you can think of that is telling you how to and how not to eat, remember your common sense. Do your research (preferably not on the items official website), and ALWAYS check the food labels. Or better yet, eat whole foods or things that you are making yourself from scratch.
Do you know of any foods that were secretly keeping you from peak health? Share them here and alert the public!