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9 “Healthy Foods” That Are Actually Unhealthy (And How to Fix it)

You are working hard to stay committed to your diet. You said no to that slice of pizza, turned down that happy hour invite, and packed your lunches this week for work. So why aren’t your efforts paying off?

Did you know the fast food industry spends $4.6 billion a year on advertising? They can sell more when they convince you it’s “healthy”, but usually, that’s not actually the case.

It’s completely unfair to well-intended consumers. Hopefully reading this will educate you about the truth of foods that claim to be healthy, that really are not.

So many seemingly healthy foods are actually packed full of processed ingredients, manufactured fats, and uncontrollably high amounts of sugar.

Does this advertising seem familiar?

Are you, like most of the population, falling for it?

So let’s take a look at these 10 “health foods” that are in reality, merely desserts with deceptive marketing. You will learn what to look for and what to avoid, so you no longer fall prey to false claims of health, like this satirical “Sweetums” ad.

It’s ok to eat a treat, but when it’s YOUR choice. It’s not fair to eat a treat when you’re under the false pretense that it is a health food.

Plus a bonus tip so you don’t waste your money on this “health benefit” BS.

9 “Healthy Foods” That Aren’t Actually Healthy

1. Fruit Juice

fruit-juice

The main reason why fruit is so good for you is because it is full of fiber and vitamins. Fruit, not fruit juice.

When fruit juice is made, all of the nutrients that make fruit good to eat are thrown out.

Have you ever seen a juicer machine after you’re done making juice? There’s an entire drawer full of the leftovers from the fruits and veggies that doesn’t get used. It gets thrown out!

Some of these unhealthy fruit drinks include:

  • Any smoothie or juice where the main ingredient is apple juice
  • Gatorade
  • Naked“Naked” of added sugars or preservatives
  • Vitamin Water
  • Orange Juice

The bottom line is that the main good part of fruit is the fiber and vitamins and when juice is made, all of the good things that you need are discarded. And this is only referring to fruit juice without added sugars!!

Juice with added sugar is even worse. For example, Naked drinks, vitamin water, orange juice, all of these are full of sugar.

Do NOT be fooled by the word “fruit!” Just because it says fruit doesn’t make it healthy.

In fact, according to Authority Nutrition, fruit juice is just as bad as soda!

Opt for water or real fruit. Don’t take this unhealthy alternative!

2. Whole Grain Bread

bread

Bread is a staple in most people’s diets. It’s used for sandwiches, breakfast foods, and many other foods that we eat. It’s also fairly inexpensive and is basically pure carbohydrates, which will make you more full, faster.

BUT bread comes in many shapes and sizes with different and unnecessary ingredients. A lot of times, you can be tricked by ingredients that say “multi-grain” rather than “whole grain.”

Whole grain just means that during the process of making the bread they used the whole grain of whatever grain they did use. For example barley or oats.

Whole wheat means that they used the whole grain of the wheat in the making of the bread and didn’t get rid of anything.

Whole Grain vs Whole Wheat

In general, these are both good things. However, a bread package could say either and then you look at the ingredients list and it says something completely different.

Enriched bleached flour is also a common ingredient in bread, however, this is the worst kind of flour to see. They bleach the flour to look like white bread and then add back in all of the vitamins that were destroyed in the bleaching process which is completely unnecessary.

Your bread really only needs 5 ingredients: 100% whole wheat, water, yeast, honey (optional), and salt. Anything beyond that is unnecessary preservatives and your body doesn’t need it.

This doesn’t only apply to bread either, it applies to all bread products such as:

  • Bagels
  • English muffins
  • Crackers
  • Pretzels (big or small, soft or crunchy)

Essentially, just check the ingredient list on your bread and if there are a bunch of chemicals and words that you can’t pronounce, you can do better.

3. Gluten-Free Food

snickers

First off, let me give you the low-down of what gluten is. Gluten is the protein in breads and grains. It gives elasticity to dough, helping it rise and keep its shape and often gives the final product a chewy texture.

There seems to be a big gluten-free movement going on right now and frankly, it doesn’t make sense. “Gluten-Free” is associated with being healthy and that’s not accurate.

The whole reason why people need gluten-free foods is because they suffer from Celiac disease or have a gluten intolerance.

What most people don’t know is that just because something is gluten-free doesn’t mean it’s healthy. It means it doesn’t have gluten. Snickers, potato chips, Reese’s, fruit snacks, and Ben and Jerry’s are gluten free. That doesn’t mean they’re good for you.

In fact, you’d be better off eating bread that contains gluten than some sugary, processed junk like candy.

If you’re going to go “gluten-free” for a diet or weight loss when you don’t have an intolerance or allergy, just make sure to check the calories and not just assume that since it’s gluten free, it must be healthy.

4. Peanut Butter

peanut-butter

Did your heart lowkey tense up when you saw peanut butter on this list? I feel ya. On a list of “foods that can make me happy in just one bite”, peanut butter is very close to the top. It’s yummy, filling, and healthy….right?

It depends.

Popular brands like skippy and Jif have added sugar and even worse, hydrogenated oils (or partially hydrogenated oils). Hydrogenated oil= trans fat. Also, palm oil=trans fat.

Trans fat is the worst kind of fat for you.

Studies show that just one gram a day has negative impacts on your health.

There are brands of peanut butter that are good for you though! Check the ingredient list before buying. Buy brands that are made only from peanuts (maybe salt). My favorite peanut butter is Adam’s Peanut butter. There is no hydrogenated oil, and no added sugar.

(You do have to stir this type of peanut butter. That is because it’s not made in a factory that chemically alters the facts.) You can keep it in the fridge after opening to reduce the separation.

When you’re looking for peanut butter, make sure to check the ingredients list! The shorter, the better.

5. Granola/Granola Bars

granola

Granola aka the love of my life!

…until i saw how much sugar and fat is added to actually make it taste good. This means that this seemingly healthy food (OATS, AMIRITE?) is downright awful. This explains why you’re eating this for breakfast or a granola bar as a snack thinking that it goes right along with your diet, when in fact, it is actually packed full of unhealthy calories that your body should never have in the first place!

The worst part about packaged granola and granola bars is that the sweetener isn’t even real sugar, it’s high fructose corn syrup which wreaks havoc on your liver!

So many foods sold at these grocery stores are full of these awful ingredients and the companies put out commercials (like that one I already showed you) making it seem like you need their product to live a happy life. This is very false and quite opposite of the truth. Don’t let it fool you!

6. Frozen Diet Meals

frozen-diet-meals

First of all, can we all agree that they just never look nearly as appealing as the picture? I think frozen meal photographers are the same people who photograph most people I’ve met up with from Tinder. 😉

You know that when you bring home those frozen enchiladas they will look nothing like the box, but when you’re grocery shopping on a ravenous stomach, it just looks so dang yummy! So you buy it, only to cook it in the microwave and remember how “so-so” microwave dinners really are. (Story of my college freshman life.)

But sometimes you also buy it under the impression that it’s healthy for you? Ayyyye!

That is what we need to talk about.

  • Calories
  • Fat
  • Sodium
  • Weird ingredients

There are some specific brands/meals that may be ok.

I know they are convenient, but there are much healthier meals you can make just about as quick. For example, a burrito with canned beans, salsa, and some veggies. And don’t worry about frozen, plain vegetables, they aren’t really anything to worry about.

7. Dried Fruit

dried-mango

If your heart has been broken by any of these, you are not alone. I was absolutely crushed about this one. I used to be the biggest dried mango junkie the world has probably ever seen.

Then, I read the label.

Holy *%#(@!!

32 grams of sugar for one serving?!

Do you know how many Kit Kats I’ve turned down to replace with the “healthier” dried mangoes, only to find out that Kit Kat’s actually have significantly less sugar than these so called health foods?!

Somehow I was under the impression that these packed pieces of heaven were grown on a tropical tree in the Philippines, picked, dried, and sent to my local Costco. But in fact, there is a much longer process, including added sugar and preservatives that I was completely oblivious to.

Dried fruits are always going to be calorically dense. All the water (which is calorie free) is dried up and it’s just the “other part” of the fruit is left. That “other part” is largely fructose. Plus, you have to search high and low to find dried fruit that doesn’t have added sugar on top of that!

Now, I still love dried mangoes, and if I’m craving them I will eat them as a yummy snack. You can still eat dried fruit, just know it’s a “treat” not a “health food.” And as far as sugar goes, you’d be just as good eating a candy bar.

8. Agave

agave

Natural sweeteners. Artificial sweeteners. Doesn’t all of this discussion just put your head in a twist?! It’s all so difficult to keep track of. Is honey healthy? White sugar? Is Agave the nectar of the Gods? What is the healthiest sweetener??

The health industry goes through trends. Certain ingredients trend as “healthy” and then you find out later that it is actually scientifically proven to be awful for your body.

Sadly, Agave falls under this category.

Dr. Oz promoted it for an extended period of time, and that’s one of the main reasons that it had such a hype behind it. However, he then published an article on his blog discussing how Agave is among the most dangerous of all natural sweeteners due to its high volume of fructose, more so than high fructose corn syrup!

It spikes blood sugar significantly and contributes to a handful of health issues.

Instead of using agave in your baking and food in general, you can use:

  • Stevia
  • Monk fruit
  • Dates
  • Honey

9. Salads

salad

I know what you’re thinking. A salad is solely vegetables. How is this unhealthy?!

Well, here’s how. Not everyone loves veggies, but most everyone loves the foods that are sky high in fat.

Here in America, we know this as RANCH dressing. And let’s be honest, less fat dressings definitely taste gross compared to the full fat dressing.

So you decide, today I’m going to be healthy! I’m going to eat a huge salad. I’m so proud of myself. And then you proceed to do a happy walk to your kitchen and grab salad and ranch.

You then proceed to dump half of your Ranch bottle on your green veggies until it looks like a winter wonderland on your plate. WHERE DID THE GREEN GO?!

Now you have a salad whose calorie count is well into the hundreds by now, probably 300-400 calories, all because of your dressing. The now invisible greens only took up about 40 calories (MAX) of those hundreds and you’re fooling yourself into thinking that you did your body a good deed.

Think again.

Alternative Dressings

There are plenty of ways to make a delicious salad without dousing it in creamy, high fat dressings.

Try adding more toppings to your salad, find a dressing that isn’t creamy. This means no Ranch, Bleu Cheese, creamy Italian, Caesar. Instead, choose a vinaigrette or a low-calorie dressing. They may be difficult to find, but i promise they exist!

Some of my favorites include the brand Annie’s and Walden Farms. One thing that I love to do is make my own from olive oil and different spices. It’s delicious and you can make it just how you like it!

healthy-dressing

Wrapping It Up

Now I hope that I haven’t discouraged you from eating. Even healthy foods are frequently turned into some kind of awful and wreak havoc on your diet dreams and plans. Your takeaway should be this:

  • Always check the ingredient label (the shorter, the better).
  • Make sure it doesn’t contain added sugar.
  • Try to leave your veggies as plan as you can handle it.
  • Avoid creamy dressings.
  • Gluten-free doesn’t necessarily mean healthy.

Don’t let these junk food companies convince you that their product is healthy. They don’t care about you, they just care about your money.

Remember, you should yo self!! Just don’t do it at the expense of your body, meaning every single day or whenever you darn well please because of your cravings.

5 Comments

    1. Amy Posey
  1. Hannah Garland

    I would add to the salad dressing comment that most contain added sugar as well. And too many people eat the specialty salads that are packed with too many extras. Does your salad really need goat cheese, bacon, raisins, and candied pecans? Also, any food in excess is unhealthy. People eat a cup of hummus saying it’s “healthy” and then wonder why they don’t lose weight. Everything in moderation.

  2. Nigel Chua

    Oh man, this resonates with me: I’ve gradually cut off the infamous fruit juices (oh they sound so healthy) that are processed to the fresh fruit juices that I can buy from an actual physical shop (and even that I choose lower sugar fruits).

    I’ve sadly thrown my favorite peanut butter out the window forever because I found my favorite has transfats PLUS rapeseed oil AND cottonseed solids… =(

    Most fruit yogurts in Singapore are really rich in sugars too, so they’re nasty for health.

    All the bread, granola bars, dried fruits – candy candy too. As well as the pastas and stuff.

    Sigh. Too much sugars everywhere, stuff I used to love; but I still cheat once in a while (ahem, actually cheat 2x per week on small levels with vermicelli).

    The hidden sugars are really dangerous, and now my 20 month kiddo is starting to love sweet stuff…gosh

    1. Amy Posey

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