We, as a society, are being tricked on a daily basis and we can thank the major food corporations for doing it. They’ve manipulated their products through marketing and packaging to lead us to believe that certain foods are healthy when, in fact, they aren’t.
I hadn’t really given much thought to this as a “topic” until I was reading some food posts and realized how frequently someone was eating / drinking soy products. It then dawned on me that my list of foods I won’t eat probably contains things most people eat on a normal basis.
Disclaimer – just because I don’t eat these things doesn’t mean you need to stop. I just wanted to share some information about them in case you were unaware (again, thanks to sneaky marketing). I always encourage people to do their own research and come to their own conclusions and decisions which work for their life. I eat (and do) a lot of things other people would NEVER do, like eat cold fish at 6am. To each their own.
- Soy Products – This might irritate a lot of people, but I can’t avoid the topic. Soy seems to be popping up everywhere, and it’s been promoted as a healthy food. Well, I won’t touch it, and if people ask me directly, I tell them not to eat it, too. Why? Hormones. Soybeans contain phytoestrogens – which are plant-derived hormone-mimicking properties not naturally made by the body. In men, they can cause testosterone imbalances, infertility, and increased risk of cancers. In women, they can cause estrogen dominance, infertility, cycle irregularities, and cancer. Soy is in a lot of products, so simply crossing soy milk off your list isn’t all you need to do. You can find soy in edamame, tempeh, and tofu, but also watch ingredient lists for soy lecithin and soybean oil. While research is still being done on this, I certainly stay away from soy products.
- Store bought granola bars – Beyond the fact that I find it far more fun to experiment and make my own versions, the store bought varieties are usually loaded with sugar and preservatives. Coated with chocolate or yogurt, numerous sugars / sweeteners (maltose corn syrup, dextrose, fructose, molasses, honey, agave, etc.), and even contain soy products. I understand these are more convenient options, but I’ll pass.
- Pre-made trail mix – I avoid these for much the same reasons as the granola bars. In order to make these mixes taste great, they’re usually loaded with salt or other seasonings. Plus, they generally contain a wide variety of items which can easily add up in terms of sugar and fat. Dried fruit and candy pieces add sweetness and calories with sugar, and some nuts can add high levels of both healthy and less healthy fats. Not to mention the fact that even small servings of these can be loaded with carbs. If you want something similar, make your own version at home with basic seasonings, stick to nuts such as almonds and walnuts, and watch your portion sizes – even healthy fats need to be eaten in moderation.
- Regular pop – Ok, it’s not branded as a “healthy food” per se, but companies are making the effort to appear healthier by making lower sugar options. A single can of regular pop contains a whopping 35 – 45g of sugar (that’s the same as 6 Oreo cookies, or almost 3 apple fritter donuts!). The recommended daily intake is set at just 25g, so that one can of pop has already set you well over it. It’s always best to make most of your drink choices water, but sometimes you just need a caffeine boost. In this case, you might be best to skip the regular pop and drink coffee or tea (without adding sugar).
- Store bought smoothies (e.g., Booster Juice) – Once again, marketed as a super healthy option, these drinks are usually loaded with carbs (through sugar) and are really high calorie. The larger drinks average 350 – 400+ calories with 80-100g of carbs! In a drink! If you’re going to have one of these, opt for the smaller drink and pick one that has protein in it.
Bonus point: Just because something says Gluten Free doesn’t mean it’s healthy. It simply means that someone with an ACTUAL gluten intolerance can safely eat it. Gluten free cookies… are still cookies. Sorry.
Those are my top five “unhealthy health” foods. I don’t want this to be a “naughty” list by any means; remember, I eat plenty of completely unhealthy food when I can! These are just some of the foods that I find people rely on as healthy options because they’ve been marketed that way, when in fact there are a lot of unhealthy aspects to them.
The bottom line is this: be a critical consumer when it comes to everything for your health. Don’t just look at the front of the packaging and take it at face value. Turn it around and read the Nutrition Facts Table. If it looks like a foreign language, check this post out to decipher it!