Nutrition is one of the most confusing and misleading things in this world. Because I have a degree in the field, I get so many people asking me whats healthy and whats not? What is the truth and what is false misinformation regarding nutrition? Its a confusing thing, its always changing and people are always talking about it so no wonder people have no idea what to choose when grocery shopping. Everything is either labelled “Low fat” or “Low Calorie”, even “high fibre” or “more protein!” All of these things are misleading, and definitely do NOT mean something is healthful. Don’t be fooled by the food industry. They will slap anything on a label if they think it’ll catch your eye and sell, no matter what the effect is on your health. Unfortunate I know…
So I created a list of things that may have a misleading label or name that you think is a safe choice in the supermarket.. but actually isn’t. Steer clear of these things:
- Protein or Granola Bars
Even if these are labelled as high protein, high fibre, low fat, etc, etc, they are almost always loaded with sugar and 30 + ingredients. There literally like a dressed up junk food. So don’t be fooled by the whole grains, nuts and seeds that claim to make it healthy. There coated in preservatives, artificial colours and flavours and high fructose corn syrup that make it not so nutritious and FAR from the perfect snack. Swap for homemade energy bites instead!
2. Fruit Juices
A lot of fruit juices claim to be full of vitamins and minerals but fruit juices totally strip the fibre that comes naturally in fruit itself with lots of added sugar. There has been studies claiming fruit juice have the same effect on your body and blood sugar levels as soda. EVEN if its labelled 100% pure, or not from concentrate… its still just fruit flavoured sugar water. Just eat a whole fruit if your craving something sweet, its got natural sugar and lots of fibre that keep you full and your digestive system happy.
3. Pre-made protein shakes or smoothies
These may seem like a really good idea if your in a rush to eat after the gym and think this is going to help you recover well. BUT these actually have enough artificial sweeteners and flavours as a milkshake, slurpee or sodas. Your better off just making your own smoothie or protein shake with frozen berries, lots of spinach, chia seeds and hemp hearts, unsweetened almond milk. Way more nutritious, less sugar, protein, and lots of fibre! Try one of my smoothie recipes instead!
I grew up on cereal for breakfast and thought that vector, cheerios and frosted flakes was a healthy way to start the day. I thank commercials as well for making me believe that. These are also a sneaky way to get you eating more sugar and artificial flavours. In one of my nutrition classes I learned that cheerios actually had more sodium then a bag of plain lays potato chips. And Cheerios are labelled as “Heart Healthy”. Crazy right? If you want some sweetness in your breakfast, add in some organic maple syrup or honey on your oats.
5. Deli Meats
I believed this was a healthy source of lean protein for the longest time.. until I did my research and realized how toxic deli meats are. Turkey, chicken, ham, salami, bologna are all often laced with sodium, nitrites, fillers and filled with saturated fat. If that’s not enough to turn you off… cooked, processed meat at high temperatures form heterocyclic amines that are carcinogenic meaning they are linked to cancer. Sodium nitrites in processed deli meats have also been linked to cancer. The high amounts of saturated fat in deli meats have also been linked to diseases such as heart disease and diabetes. Try sticking to other lean sources of protein that are less processed such as chicken or turkey breast, eggs, canned tuna, tempeh or tofu. For sandwhiches and wraps, add in lots of veggies such as spinach and cucumbers, and use spreads like hummus for a little extra protein!
6. Dairy Milk
One of the things that turns me off from dairy altogether, plus I hate the taste and my body doesn’t agree with it. A really big misconception since we have ALL grown up on believing milk makes us big and strong, its the main source of calcium and we will have brittle bones and teeth if we don’t drink it. WRONG, WRONG, WRONG! Milk actually robs our bones of calcium, heres why: Animal protein (like milk) produce acid when there broken down in our bodies, and calcium is a really good neutralizer for this acid. SO, in order to neutralize this acid from the milk, it pulls calcium OUT of our bones, making them more brittle and more at risk for osteoporosis. Milk is doing the complete opposite of what we are taught growing up. Dairy milk is highly processed, has cholesterol, saturated fat and sodium making it not nutritious at all really. Yes it has calcium and its fortified with Vitamin D but FYI nuts and seeds (chia seeds), beans and lentils (Chickpeas) have more calcium then milk with more fibre and nutrients and less fat. Cows milk suit the nutrition needs of a baby calf, not a human so we have no need for it at all. Our bodies don’t even produce lactate to break down milk after were babies because we have no more need for mothers milk. But instead we drink another species milk? Makes no sense. I could go on and on about dairy and milk so I’ll probably write another separate post about it. Anyways… Opt for unsweetened nut milks instead like cashew or almond milk.
7. Nut Butters
Not ALL nut butters are unhealthy, you just have to be mindful of the ingredients. For example: Kraft peanut butter (smooth) has like 10 ingredients including palm oil, hydrogenated vegetable oil, added sugar, corn maltodextrin, soybean oil etc. Hydrogenated vegetable oil is adding unhealthy, toxic trans fats and saturated fats into your peanut butter, and the added sugar is not so good either. Your basically cancelling out all the good stuff in peanuts. My tips is to look for ingredients that have 1-2 things: peanuts and sea salt. Or just peanuts. You should have to stir the oil on the top of the jar because the oil separation occurs naturally with minimal processing.
8. Yogurt Parfaits or Flavoured Yogurt
Always seems like a healthy choice but there is a lot of hidden sugar and preservatives in these bad boys. ESPECIALLY in yogurt parfaits because of the granola which is almost always coated with sugar. Instead of reaching for one these, try making your own using plain greek yogurt with homemade granola (recipe will be posted soon), frozen or fresh berries, cinnamon and some honey! I promise it will taste even better then a store bought parfait.
9. Instant Oatmeal
You may believe this to be a healthy breakfast to choose because oats themselves are very nutritious and a lot of instant oatmeal have added seeds, nuts and berries to them making them seem even healthy. I use to believe this myself, and love how quick and easy it was to make! Thought I had a win-win situation on my hands. But the truth is these instant oatmeal packets are loaded with added sugar, salt and artificial colours. A lot of them have less fibre as well, which is what oats on there own, are known for! Try making your own oatmeal instead using plain rolled oats or steel cut, mix in some unsweetened almond milk, peanut butter, berries, cinnamon and honey for a more nutritious, easy breakfast.
Its not the nuts themselves that make trail-mix unhealthy, because nuts can be very nutritious and beneficial to your health. Store-bought trail mix tends to be coated with sugar and salt for extra sweetness. A lot of trail-mix even adds milk chocolate or m&m’s making it even more sugary. I know I know thats the best part, but it may not be the best thing for your health.. especially since its so easy to eat so much when your taking handfuls from the bag. Try making your own with plain nuts and seeds, a bit of dark chocolate pieces and drizzle some honey over top.
11. Veggie Chips
You may only be getting a small fraction of the actual veggies that these claim to be made from like parsnips, sweet potatoes or beets. They may seem like a healthy alternative to potato chips, but that might not be the case. These veggie chips tend to have a lot of sodium, and there still fried in oil and coated with potato starch increasing the saturated fat content and basically taking out all nutrients from the veggies used. These are potentially dangerous because people tend to eat way more of them then a regular potato chip because their perceived as healthy. Don’t let it fool you! Opt for these homemade kale chips instead!
Well thats all for my list of foods you find that you think are healthy but actually are NOT! Don’t let em fool you and always watch for the ingredient lists for added sugar, preservatives and artificial colours and flavourings. Hope this helps and gives you a bit of guidance. If theres anything else that I missed let me know! I want to hear what you think about this list or if theres anything you find in grocery stores that are perceived as healthy but really aren’t! Drop it in the comments. 🙂