We’re all out here trying to be healthy. It’s 2018! We know more than ever about what goes into our food and where it comes from. We have said “no” to high sugar sodas. We have turned our backs on fast food. We have shaken our heads at candy and sweets. We are on a path to living healthy and we are going to get there no matter what stands in our way. But beware, because all around you are foods that are deceptive. They’ll try to trick you into eating them, promising that they are “nutritious” and “healthy.” Don’t believe a word they say, because it is not true! These foods are out to get you, and you can’t let them. The problem is that a lot of people aren’t paying attention to what is really in these so called “healthy” foods, and that leads to bad eating habits. If you’re trying to lose weight or just feel healthier in general and you’re having problems reaching your goals, it could be because you are still eating any number of these foods. The key is to stay vigilant, and always, ALWAYS read the label to see what is going into your body. Otherwise, you end up getting tricked, and no one wants to look like a fool. So stay hungry and stay alert, and watch out for these ten foods you think are healthy, but are definitely not!
10. Light salad dressing
Let’s get one thing out of the way first: salads are DEFINITELY healthy. If you’re eating a big bowl of vegetables, then good for you. However, keeping those salads healthy all depends on what you put on top of them. Is a salad still healthy if it’s covered in cheese, croutons, bacon, and ranch dressing? Well, not so much. So surely the solution to unhealthy dressing is to go with the low fat option, right? Think again, herbivores. Low fat dressing is lacking in flavour because it’s missing a key component, which is the fat. So what does that missing flavour get replaced with? If you said sugar, you’re correct. You’re way better off just going with the full fat version. Except even the regular store bought dressings are not that great for you, since they are also loaded with salt and sugar, just slightly less so than the low fat version. For a truly healthy dressing, just try making your own. It’s no more difficult than mixing some vinegar or lemon juice with some nice extra virgin olive oil. You can also flavour it with any herbs or spices that you’re into. Not only that, but a homemade dressing is way more likely to impress people. It’s something to consider the next time you’re making a salad for a crowd.
9. Multigrain chips
Lesson number one in eating healthy: avoid chips. Just do it, because there is no way you’re going to find a way to incorporate them into a healthy diet. Now, you may be about to fire off the question about multigrain chips. After all, they contain multiple grains! How could they possibly be unhealthy? Well, there’s a simple answer to that. While regular corn chips contain corn flour, multigrain chips include corn flour and white flour. White flour quickly converts to sugar once its ingested, making you crave more. Not only that, but multigrain chips are typically higher in fat and cholesterol than your run of the mill corn chips. Not only that, but they’re an unfriendly snack option for your gluten free friends because of the hidden flour. If you’re really going to snack on chips and salsa, then just do yourself a favour and go with regular old corn chips. By the way, this rule also applies to anything else that touts itself as “multigrain,” including multigrain bread. Let’s face it: bread is bread. Whether it’s white, rye, or multigrain, too much of it is just not that great for you. Remember when we said these unhealthy foods would try and trick you? Well, multigrain is one of the greatest food tricksters out there, so beware.
8. Rice milk
This point comes with a disclaimer: we understand that people are lactose intolerant or have other dairy allergies. No one is saying that the dairy alternatives out there are all terrible for you. Just this one. See, rice milk is severely lacking in any nutritional value. While it’s a decent substitute for cow’s milk, rice milk is super high in carbohydrates. It also has to be fortified with calcium because of the low levels of that essential nutrient. That means that rice milk has one of the main things that people who are trying to be healthy are trying to avoid: added ingredients. This is especially true of commercial rice milk brands, which are often thickened with carrageenan and sweetened with syrups or other added sugars. Rice milk, despite being a popular alternative for parents who are trying to avoid giving their children dairy, also contains trace amounts of inorganic arsenic. Now, it’s not enough to pose any serious health risk (arsenic is after all a well known poison), but it is enough that it should be a concern to parents giving rice milk to their kids. The truth is that all milk substitutes have their pros and cons, but rice milk should be far down on the list of alternatives to try first.
In the 1990’s, the popularity of margarine began to skyrocket due to the increasing movement to be fat free. However, as time has moved on and people have become better informed about these fat free substitutes, we have learned that things like margarine are so much worse. Think about this for a minute. What is butter? It’s churned cream that results in the separation of butterfat and buttermilk. That’s about it. Sometimes they add salt for flavour. What is margarine though? If you asked the average person what exactly margarine is, it’s likely that they wouldn’t be able to tell you. That’s for good reason, because margarine is nothing more than chemical reactions. It’s true! Have you ever heard about people talking about the dangers of hydrogenated oils? That’s all margarine is. So if anyone ever tries to tell you that margarine is better for you, just ignore them. Even if they try to show you how a lot of margarine is made with olive oils now, the truth is that in the long run is no better for you than just regular old butter. Not only that, but in a side buy side taste comparison, butter is going to win every time. Margarine just can’t hold a candle to the more natural texture and taste of butter. If you can get grass fed butter, even better!
6. Veggie burgers
Disclaimer: there is nothing wrong with being a vegetarian. If you are still getting the right amount of protein, then good on you! Being a vegetarian is a great way to avoid some of the unhealthier aspects of meat. However, foods that are considered vegetarian are not always healthy. Think about it for a minute. Are French fries vegetarian? Absolutely. Are they healthy? Absolutely not. “What about the vegetarian products you can get in the freezer section though?” You might be asking. Sure, those veggie burgers seem like they’d be healthy. They do, after all, have the word “veggie” right in the name. Don’t be fooled though! While those unattractive patties may contain some vegetables (often chunks of peas and carrots), they are visibly stuck in a big, grayish brown mass. Well, what is the mass made of? You already know it isn’t meat, so what exactly is it? Well, it’s usually a collection of fillers and other unnatural things used to hold everything together. While it might be low in fat, it’s very high in carbohydrates, probably even higher than the bun you’re eating it on. If you really need to have a veggie burger, try to make your own! You can create a really great burger substitute using mushrooms, and there are plenty of great methods and recipes out there for doing it. After all, homemade is always better anyway.
5. Certain gluten free products
Here’s a cardinal rule of food: just because it’s gluten free, does not mean it’s healthy. Guess what foods are gluten free? Potato chips. Guess what else? French fries. One more? Ice cream. All of these foods contain no gluten, but plenty of fat and sugar (which makes them delicious treats, but certainly not foods that should be consumed regularly). There are also plenty of foods out there that are gluten free substitutes for other foods, but do not be fooled: these are not healthier alternatives. They are simply gluten free alternatives. For example, gluten free pizza crust mix is no better for you than regular old gluten packed pizza crust. The gluten free option is just there for people who have gluten allergies. You’re still getting just as many carbohydrates and sugars as you would be with the regular pizza crust, just none of the gluten. It must be said at this point as well that avoiding gluten when you don’t have an allergy or Celiac’s is not healthier for you. Gluten is not bad for you. What’s bad for you is an excess of carbohydrates, usually found in the foods that also contain gluten. If you should try and avoid anything, it’s those.
4. “Healthy” frozen dinners
Raise your hand if you are familiar with these two words: “lean cuisine.” Most of you probably have a hand in the air right now (or not, since we can’t see if you raised your hand or not, but we’d wager that phrase brought up some memories of commercials or freezer shelves in the grocery store). See, back in the day someone had the bright idea of selling “healthy” frozen dinners which were supposed to be portion controlled and promote weight loss. However, those meals were a complete and utter scam. Case in point: many of those lean cuisine meals involved pasta. Now, we all love pasta, but there’s no denying that it’s not great for you, particularly if you’re trying to lose weight. In fact, it’s one of the first foods doctors will tell you to eliminate if you’re trying to shed some pounds. So why did these meals market themselves as healthy when they were the opposite? Well, it was because of that trend we mentioned earlier: they were low in fat. However, what they lacked in fat they made up for in carbs and sodium. Not to mention the fact that these meals were highly processed, never a good look for something that is supposed to be healthy.
3. Diet soda
Woe be to anyone who tries to take diet Coke away from someone who lives for the stuff. It’s so popular that even the president can’t seem to live without it. Is it really healthy for you though? Sure, it may contain 0 calories and be better for you than regular old soda, but that’s setting the bar pretty low for calling something healthy. The most unhealthy thing about diet sodas is the addition of aspartame. No, we’re not going to peddle the tale that aspartame causes cancer, because the truth is that there is no conclusive link between aspartame and cancer. That’s according to the American Cancer Society. However, that’s not to say that aspartame can wreak havoc on your body in other ways. It has been found to increase appetite and to reduce the body’s ability to produce insulin (this was shown in lab testing done on rats). The other problem with drinking too much diet soda is that it triggers your brain to expect something sweet when you’re eating food. That means that you’re likely to develop an aversion to drinking water with your meals. If you’re stuck on diet soda and don’t know how to get off of that horse, trying transitioning to sparkling water, even the flavoured kind to start. Then you’ll eventually lose the craving for sweetness, and you’ll be just as happy with an ice cold club soda.
2. “Low fat” and “Reduced fat” foods
We’ve mentioned it briefly in a couple of the other entries on this list, but this deserves a spot all it’s own. Back in the lat 80’s and 1990’s, fat became public enemy number one in the food world. People were so concerned with getting food that didn’t have fat in it, that they demanded that the foods they used to love suddenly have less fat in them. We’re talking cream cheese, yogurt, potato chips, all the foods that need fat to taste good were having it taken out. There’s only one problem that anyone who loves to cook knows firsthand: fat is flavour. So when you take the fat out of foods, you’re left with a gaping void of flavourlessness that people will genuinely hate. So what was brought in to fill that hole? Sugar! Yes, that’s right. Sugar is low in fat, but it’s, you know, sugar. It’s unhealthy. It’s so bad for you. The thing is, fat can be burned off. Sure, if you get too much fat with too little physical activity, then yes, you will gain weight. However, fat can be burned off, because it’s energy. Sugar, however, gets converted into the kind of fat that sticks around for a long time. Not only that, but refined sugar can lead to serious health problems like diabetes. Low fat options still exist and are still stocked on store shelves, but people have become more educated on the matter, and know that getting something that naturally has more fat is still better than going for the reduced fat option. Remember: moderation is key.
1. Egg whites
Have you ever been at breakfast with someone, and you see them order an egg white omelette? Isn’t it just the most depressing thing you’ve ever seen? Of course it is. Not only that, but it’s not necessarily better for you to eat only egg whites without the yolk. This is how it works: egg whites have fewer calories than whole eggs. This is true. The yolk typically has a higher amount of fat in it. However, that fat is good for you! It promotes brain health, decreases the risk of heart disease, and can actually help to lower your cholesterol. Not only that, but consuming the fat found in egg yolks can also promote weight loss. “Well what about cholesterol?” You might be asking. Again, egg yolks do contain more cholesterol than egg whites, but the cholesterol in egg yolks is the good kind. Studies have shown that the dietary cholesterol in eggs actually decreases the body’s natural production of cholesterol. Not only that, but the cholesterol in eggs also does not raise the level of serum cholesterol in the bloodstream, which can lead to heart disease. Overall, if you’re going to diet and try to lose weight, don’t deny yourself that delicious yolk. It’s better for you than you may think!