Trying to figure out what foods to eat to be healthy is like trying to navigate a minefield. One wrong step and – BOOM!
There is a TON of misinformation out there regarding “healthy” foods and it’s only getting worse. With people paying more attention to what they’re eating, food manufacturers are getting sneakier with their marketing tactics to make you believe their garbage food is actually good for you.
I’d love to believe that food companies have a heart of gold and are actually trying to make food that’s ACTUALLY healthy for us, but unfortunately they haven’t done anything to convince me of that yet.
I’m going to post some good articles on “How To Read A Nutrition Label” on the Awesome Life Project Facebook Page, so be sure to go there and check that out, but for today we’re just going to put to bed some common “health” foods that aren’t as healthy as you would have hoped.
These foods obviously aren’t going to kill you if you eat them, but it might be a good idea to limit them to special occasions or times when you have no control over what you’re eating, if your traveling or staying with friends/relatives. They might not kill you, but they’re definitely not making you live longer either.
Ah, cereal. The staple of breakfast in North America. A recent study showed that 31% of Americans answered “YES” to starting their day, everyday with a bowl of cereal. Heck, that’s how I grew up too. I used to eat cereal for lunch and dinner sometimes too when I was in university.
Cereals may taste delicious, but even the ones touted as “heart healthy” like Honey Nut Cheerios or Corn Flakes have as much sugar as the Fruity Pepples of the world. Not to mention I know a lot of people who add another tablespoon of white table sugar on top of there Cheerios or Corn Flakes. I know this because I used to do it too. It was delicious.
Unfortunately, as we now know, high sugar intake is quite dangerous and is one of the leading causes of this obesity and Type 2 diabetes epidemic we find ourselves in.
And no, cereals are not “whole grains” either. You can pretty much ignore that claim on every food. The last time I checked you can’t grow a field of Cheerios. But that would be pretty cool…
Whole Grain Bread
This is along the same lines as the cereal. “Whole grain” bread most likely isn’t actually made of whole grains. It’s a marketing claim that food manufacturers use to make you believe their food is healthy when it’s not.
Most breads labeled as whole grain still use up to 70% refined flour and can have the same effect on your blood sugar levels as a Snickers bar. If you ask me, I’d rather eat the Snickers bar.
Again, just like with the cereal, the last time I checked you can’t grow a field of bread.
There are some breads that actually made from whole grains that are healthy, but those are few and far between and usually only found at health food stores which means they’re wicked expensive. If it’s worth it for you to spend $10 so you can have your bread, then go that route. I’ll stick to actual whole grains like oats and a little bit of rice occasionally.
Skim/Low Fat Milk
This is one of the results of the “low-fat” craze from the 80’s and 90’s that has, unfortunately, stuck around.
I’m going to say this once now, and then one more time in the last food below – NOT ALL FAT IS BAD. Especially not the saturated and monounsaturated fats found in whole milk.
Saturated fats and monounsaturated fats are great for satiety (feeling satisfied and full after you eat), support your metabolism and help body composition. And without that fat in the milk there’s also less fat-soluble vitamins like Vitamin A, D, E & K.
Oh, and there’s also the fact that research no longer supports the health claims low/no-fat milk versus whole milk. A 2012 study found that low/no-fat milk correlated with higher obesity rates in children. Oops.
This one should be fairly well known by now, but you should definitely be staying away from vegetable oils such as canola oil, grape seed oil and safflower oil.
These oils are pretty much pure chemicals. Manufactures blast the seeds with chemicals and solvents at extremely high heat to extract the oil and then dump more chemicals to make it look edible and smell like a normal oil.
These oils are made up of the ACTUAL BAD FATS – polyunsaturated fatty acids and trans fats.
Since your body’s cells are made up of mostly saturated and monounsaturated fats, your body has a hard time digesting them. Not to mention the fact that most of these oils have a very high Omega-6/Omega-3 ratio which causes nasty things like inflammation and can increase risk of heart disease, obesity and diabetes.
Stick to oils like extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil or nut oils like walnut oil or almond oil.
Most Protein Bars
Most protein bars on the market are nothing more than a Snickers bar wrapped in a different wrapper. That’s 2 mentions of Snicker’s bars in this article…now I really want a Snickers bar….
Anyways, these bars are LOADED with sugars, hydrogenated vegetable oils (see above), high fructose corn syrup and low quality protein sources. They’re also typically quite high in calories.
There are obviously exceptions to this and you can find my favourite protein snack bars HERE
A lot of awesome things came out of the 80’s – like me! – but this was not one of them.
If there’s a label of “Fat-Free” you can pretty much guarantee it’s not going to be healthy for you.
As mentioned above – NOT ALL FATS ARE BAD. Fats support everything from cognitive function to body composition and overall fat loss.
Also, fat is typically what makes foods taste good, so when companies take the fat out of a food they have to replace it with something to make it taste good again. This usually comes in the form of high fructose corn syrup, artificial sweeteners or trans fats which can cause many, many health problems.
So, In Conclusion
Try to stay away from these 6 foods as much as possible. Like I mentioned, it’s not going to kill you if you have some garlic bread at a restaurant that’s made with refined flour and cooked with vegetable oils once a month, BUT these foods definitely aren’t helping you live any longer or any better.