Don't get caught up in the HYPE and scam of buying diet foods. When it comes to what to eat, keep it simple. Anything being advertised to you as healthy, is likely not healthy. Let's discuss the top healthy foods you should avoid!
1. Orange Juice
Most orange juice you find in the grocery store is filled with added sugar and is actually very processed. Did you know that oxygen is stripped from the juice to extend the shelf life up to a year (WTF!)? Flavor is then added back in by using oils and other natural flavors. Any kind of juice that is able to sit on the shelf for a year is lacking in nutritional value. I don’t know about you, but that doesn’t sound healthy to me!
Alternative: Make your own orange juice. You can squeeze juice directly from a fresh orange into a cup if you don’t have a juicer. You could also purchase freshly pressed juice from a health food store.
2. Artificial Sweeteners
These “diet” and diabetes friendly sweeteners are actually worse than regular sugar. Artificial sweeteners like Splenda and Sweet’N Low are actually aspartame (chemicals) and clever marketing has convinced some of us that these sweeteners are better than sugar. In reality, you should not be craving sugar so much that you have to add fake sugar to your diet every day.
Alternative: Coconut nectar, raw honey and raw sugar can be used when you need sugar. Just keep in mind that they should not be used on a regular basis. The majority of carbohydrates in your diet should come directly from sweeter fruits and vegetables that are full of nutrients.
3. Sugar Free Treats
Aspartame, aspartame and more aspartame. These items are marketed as a healthier alternative to candy, especially to those who have type 2 diabetes since aspartame is used instead of sugar. However, aspartame is horrible for your health and should be avoided. In fact, it can actually make you hungrier since you get a taste of something sweet but you don’t get the calories that typically come with sweet foods. Your body will actually crave more calories because it feels like something is missing.
Alternative: Freeze grapes and eat them like candy. Keep naturally sweet treats like goji berries, cranberries and coconut chips on hand to curb your appetite for sweets.
4. 100 Calorie Packs
When you’re trying to lose weight and get healthy, you should be focusing on quality over quantity. Less calories does not mean healthier. You’re better off eating an apple and a handful of raw nuts than a 100-calorie pack made up of ingredients your body doesn’t recognize. Enriched flour, high fructose corn syrup, artificial colors and artificial flavors have no place in a healthy diet.
Alternative: Keep healthy snacks on hand at all times. Nuts, seeds, fruits and chopped veggies are great to grab and go. They can easily be portioned out in advance and they’re packed with nutrition.
5. Pre Packaged Smoothie & Juice Drinks
Any smoothie or juice that has been sitting in a refrigerator or on a shelf for days at a time is not healthy- period. The nutritional benefit is greatly diminished once the product is bottled and shipped to the store. Additionally, these pre-packaged drinks are usually higher in sugar content.
Alternative: Make your own smoothies or juices, and retain control over what goes in. Enjoy the nutritional benefits and change things up so you’re getting a wide variety of nutrients.
6. Diet Coke
This is just filled with aspartame and tons of other chemicals –chemical sh*t storm. Diet Coke is not a health food, and it is certainly not any better for you than regular Coke. This is a great time to remind you that the quality of calories you eat should be your main focus when you’re goal is weight loss and improved health. It doesn’t matter that Diet Coke has zero calories, because it’s a chemical concoction hiding behind the term diet in order to trick you. Avoid it at all costs.
Alternative: Sparkling water provides a little fizz if that’s what you’re looking for, and you can always use fruit to flavor it. Try raw kombucha if you want something sweeter. It contains a small amount of natural sugar and it’s full of probiotics, which are great for gut health and have been linked to weight loss.
7. Flavored Yogurts
I know they’re marketed as a healthy calorie conscious option, but flavored yogurts contain everything from aspartame and high fructose corn syrup, to color additives and artificial flavors. I could go on and on, but the point here is to avoid flavored yogurts!
Alternative: Buy plain Greek yogurt and use fruit, granola or a small amount of honey to sweeten it.
8. Baked Potato Chips
They’re marketed as a healthy option, but are far from it. These “diet friendly” chips have questionable ingredients in them, including MSG, sunflower oil, natural flavors, artificial flavors and food coloring!
Alternative: Most health food stores now carry a wide variety of fruit and vegetable chips. You can also make your own at home. Chips made from kale, apples, sweet potatoes and zucchini are quite popular.
9. Whole Wheat Bread
You’ve probably heard that whole wheat bread is healthier than white because it has more fiber and is made with heart healthy grains. Unfortunately, we’re starting to see how much damage wheat actually does. Wheat contains gluten, which has been shown to cause leaky gut even in individuals without celiac disease. It has also been shown to cause a leak in the blood brain barrier, which leads to inflammation of the brain.
Alternative: There are several gluten free breads available today. Look for those with fiber and protein. You can also try paleo breads made with almond flour and coconut flour. They also provide more fiber and protein, and they are grain free.
10. Trail Mix
Often found in vending machines, trail mix is considered a healthy snack compared to candy bars and chips. However, these mixes are often full of more salt and sugar than anyone needs in a day. Yogurt-covered raisins, sweetened and salted nuts, cereal and chocolate are nothing but empty calories.
Alternative: Make your own version of trail mix. Use shredded coconut, plain nuts and seeds, pieces of dark chocolate and unsweetened dried fruit. You can essentially use the same ingredients, but they won’t be covered in extra salt and sugar.
Shakera Leigh Halford is a holistic health coach, yoga instructor, fitness instructor and beauty professional. She is passionate about helping women learn how to become the best version of themselves. She teaches women how to balance family, health and beauty though her amazing wellness and weight loss programs.