We’ve all been told at one time or another that some foods are ‘healthy” only to later learn that this is complete bunk. I’m a Gen Xer (cool, right?) and the stuff we thought was healthy would scare you but even now some things on the market try to suggest good health are in many cases diabetes and obesity in pretty packaging. If you want to be healthy the safest, though not always the easiest way is to eat clean and pass up the processed stuff. Don’t be fooled by clever marketing like the examples below.
1. Gatorade. Gatorade is just sugar water with artificial flavoring and food coloring. Gatorade has one redeeming factor to it. If you’ve been doing a high intensity physical activity for many hours, it is a great option for restoring your electrolytes and getting your energy back. Unfortunately, most people drinking Gatorade are not doing it in this circumstance. You really need to be pushing your limits before Gatorade becomes necessary. Seriously, if you didn’t just finish a marathon, play high intensity sports (not on your Xbox) or take a hike, you may as well be drinking soda
2. Yogurt. Yogurt is one of the iconic healthy foods. A filling snack that not only tastes good, but has a lot of vitamins and minerals. On top of this Yogurt also has active cultures of good bacteria in it, which is amazing for your body. Unfortunately, most yogurt that you’ll find at the supermarket is full of a lot of unnecessary sugar. Most commercial flavored yogurt that you find is going to be packed with sugar, corn starch, and high fructose corn syrup.If you want healthy yogurt – eat plain, unflavored yogurt and you should be ok.
3. Salad. Okay yes, Salad is good for you, but not all salad is created equal in terms of health. If you want to eat healthy, getting a salad does not automatically mean that you’re doing so. Your salad with a ton of ranch or blue cheese dressing, bacon, and cheese, while delicious, is not exactly healthy just because it’s sitting on top of a bed of lettuce, it works if you’re following a strict low carb diet but if not, it’s going to pack on the pounds. Never assume it’s healthy just because it’s called salad.
4. Protein Bars. Protein bars are a big offender when it comes to tricking people into thinking they’re eating something healthy. Which is impressive because many of them are literally just chocolate bars a lot of the time. Yes, protein bars have protein in them, and protein is good for you, but there are much healthier ways to get more protein in your body than eating a chocolate bar that tastes kind of weird. Unless you’re eating a low carb or ketogenic protein bar, you should just grab a Snickers instead the calories will be close and a Snickers will taste better.
5. Nutella. Nutella is nothealthy. It is not a healthy alternative to peanut butter as some people have been led to believe. It is sugar mixed with fats, some hazelnuts (ooh that’s healthy) and flavoring. It is a jar full of obesity! A single serving is 200 calories and 179 of them are fat and sugar but they are combined into a wonderful chocolate hazelnut spread that has caused many women to utter the phrase “do I look fat in this?”.
6. Trail Mix. Trail mix is one of the least healthy things you can possibly eat as a snack if you are not doing a high intensity activity and burning off a lot of calories. The entire concept of trail mix is a snack that can refuel your energy, so it’s very calorie dense and composed of simple sugars that your body can turn into fuel quickly.There’s a reason it’s called “Trail mix” after all and tv surfing on the couch doesn’t count. (Hint, it’s for eating on hikes, which burn a lot of energy.)
7. Cereal. Years of advertising when we were kids have engrained this idea in our heads that breakfast cereal is a healthy start to the day. But the sad reality is that most breakfast cereal is a concoction of sugar, preservatives, flavor additives and food coloring. Even the new rebranded “whole grain” cereals are not a good choice when one of the top listed ingredients is sugar. As much as I would like to believe that a big bowl of Whole Grain Cinnamon Toast Crunch is great for me, it may as well be a big bowl of candy. There are some “healthy” cereals out there but they often taste as delicious as their packaging. Simply put unless you’re a carb addict who needs a breakfast cereal to be happy, read the ingredients list and buyer beware.