Would you drink a bottle of Household Cleaner because it was “Calorie Free”, “Low fat”, or contained “No added Sugar”?
Of course not…so then…
Why feel good about drinking a bottle of artificially sweetened carbonated soda made from un-pronounceable ingredients?
Is it because it’s found in the beverage aisle instead of right beside the Bleach? Or, is it because the package told you it was “healthy”, “diet”, “fat-free”, “Reduced Fat”, “Sugar free”, “Low-sodium”, “Low-Calorie”, “All Natural”, or a “Smart Snack” or “Made with Real Fruit”?
We all do it…just the other day, I found myself compelled to buy a box of cereal just because there was a cute furry animal on the front.
What influences your food buying decisions – the actual product ingredients or the pretty colored “whole grain” seal on the packaging?
Well, I am sick of watching people get conned into buying crappy processed food packaged in a healthy looking box. In fact, I am here to spit in the face of all those food marketers who think they can get away with tricking us into buying sugar and chemicals and maybe even an increased chance of cancer from the “Health food” section of the Grocery store.
Just the other day, in looking around my good friend’s kitchen, I spotted 7 so-called “health foods” that definitely do absolutely nothing for your body. They are part of a clever food marketing campaign designed to get your money by tricking you into thinking a product is healthy.
- Diet Soda. A.K.A Diet “Pop”.No matter what you call it, it’s still just a bunch of chemicals in a shiny can. Yeah, I know..it’s great because it’s fizzy, refreshing, and doesn’t coat your teeth and hips with sugar like the regular stuff. But, this doesn’t take away the fact that drinking this stuff still makes your bones soft and brittle (thus increasing your chances of developing osteoporosis), erodes tooth enamel, has been shown to make you crave sweets, actually clinically shown to affect human short-term memory, and cause cancer in lab rats.Seriously, just drink water! If it’s the carbonation you crave, try squeezing a little lemon, lime, and orange juice into plain carbonated H2O. If you just can’t live without the caffeine, unsweetened tea with lemon is a great antioxidant-rich choice. You can also try adding 1 lemon and half a sliced cucumber to a pitcher of water – chill for 20 minutes and enjoy!
- Granola Bars. My eye was immediately drawn to a prettily-decorated box of Nutri-grain bars in my friend’s cupboard. “NEW! Superfruit Fusion!”Wow. That sounds exciting.I took a second look and found that the words “whole grain” were written multiple times all over the box…which was actually stamped with a special “Whole Grain” Official Seal. Impresssssive.But then I took 15 seconds to read the ultra-long ingredients list. Yes, “Whole grain” was listed as the first ingredient, but onlyin the “Hearty whole grain-textured crust”. As for the filling… well, four awful words (“high fructose corn syrup”) basically just turned this into a box of wheat enriched jelly-filled donuts.Instead of indulging in a whole grain donut, try grabbing a REAL antioxidant-rich superfruit fusion: An Apple (plus, it’s already unwrapped).
- Fruit Juice. I grew up thinking this stuff was “healthy”, just because it came from something healthy (fruit).The thing is, fruit does contain lots of vitamins, minerals, and fiber, but the stuff parading as “fruit juice” is really just liquid candy. There’s more sugar in a glass of fruit juice than most candy bars or bottles of soda! (There are as much as 10 tsp. of sugar in one 8 oz. glass of grape juice — more than a 12 oz can of regular grape soda!)Instead of drinking your fruit, try eating it whole. You’ll get tons more antioxidants, but without the awful insulin spike and crash you get from juice. If you MUST indulge in juice, make sure it’s 100% pure fruit juice not from concentrate and drink it right after you exercise — also try to limit it to 8 oz to avoid getting a days’ worth of sugar in one sitting.
- “White Whole grain” Breads.
Seriously, companies are selling this stuff…and my friend actually bought it. Aside from being “classic”, this package of buns also claims that “Whole Wheat is our first ingredient”. Well, that’s all fine and dandy… but the package also failed to mention that “Unbromated Unbleached Enriched Wheat Flour” (yeah, that’s science-speak for “white flour, etc”) is their second ingredient. Oh yes, and that ingredient #5 is “High Fructose Corn Syrup”.So, while Pepperidge Farm may be tricking you in the grocery store, that “Whole Grain White” bread is not tricking your body: those buns end up as nothing more than fat…well, on your buns.In other words, stop finding a way to convince yourself that white bread can be “classic” and “healthy”, and find bread that is ACTUALLY whole grain. And, be sure to read past the first ingredient to make sure your bread isn’t a ‘poser’ — it should contain no added white flours, enriched what-nots, and high fructose corn syrups.
- Boxed Cereals.
These are actually just a member of the granola bar family…and very few of them are as “healthy” as they look. This particular box — frosted Cheerios — is typical of most: It bears an (official) “Whole Grain Seal”, and brags about all the “vitamins and minerals” it contains. A look at the “Whole grain Seal” however, revealed that this cereal contains “at least 8 grams of whole grains”.Hmm… but what about those 10 grams of sugar? Why don’t they also stamp the box with an Official “Super Sugar Seal”??So, instead of meandering down the marketing walk of shame (aka the “cereal aisle”) and buying into all the freeze-dried vitamins and minerals hype, buy some whole grain oatmeal or shredded wheat, and mix in some skim milk and vitamin-pumped berries.
- Lite Salad Dressings.
Regular salad dressing is the #1 source of fat in women’s diets… and why wouldn’t it be? Adding salad dressing to your greens is basically no different than sipping on melted butter or Crisco. (YEAH, GROSS!)So, it’s understandable why we’ve started reaching for the ‘lower fat’ stuff.However, while that salad dressing may contain less fat, the manufacturers have unabashedly added more sugar or chemicals that basically do the same thingto our bodies as fat.So, if you just can’t bear the thoughts of eating dry lettuce, and don’t enjoy eating straight out of the Crisco jar, try choosing a salad dressing containing healthy fat base – such as olive oil. Or, make your own using dressing olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice and seasonings. Not only is it delicious, but it’s also super good for you and will increase the absorption of nutrients in your salad!
- Reduced-fat Peanut Butter.
While peanut butter is a great source of heart-healthy mono-unsaturated fat, most commercial-brand peanut butters are actually made with the same type of sugar as Cake Frosting!The problem is amplified when they take out some fat… because this means the peanut butter contains less of the healthy stuff, and even more sugar!So, either just deal with the extra 20 calories or so, or better yet — choose one that is 100% peanuts (and salt), with no hydrogenated oils. (With natural peanut butter, the oil will separate from the peanuts and must be stirred back in).
There you have it — the top 7 most unhealthy “health” foods I could find — all in my friend’s kitchen! Granted, there are plenty more… but hopefully now you are aware that phrases like “fat free”, “reduced fat”, “Low fat”, “Whole grain”, “Sugar Free”, “No added sugar”, and “Diet”…are often nothing more than marketing ploys aimed at a health conscious consumer.
You can check out a fun video about unhealthy health foods right here:
If you liked this article and want a great list of healthy foods, check out my complete Nutrition and Fitness guide Here.