A link passed through my Facebook feed the other day: 50 Seemingly Healthy Foods that are Bad for You. Besides my annoyance that it was a 51-slide slideshow (how many clicks…), I was annoyed at some of the items on the list: energy drinks? Gummy fruit snacks? Really? And granola, while something that actually should have been on the list, was on there in three different forms (granola, granola bars, parfait).
But this post isn’t about whether or not those 50 (or 48) things should have been in the too-many-clicks slideshow.
Here is a quick summary of things that aren’t good for you, despite their shiny labels:
Low fat/fat free/low calorie/”light” foods: When they take out the fat or calories, they put something else in it to make it tasty. Generally, the replacements are worse than the fat was to begin with. Either take a small portion of the full-fat version, or skip it altogether.
Foods that can be cooked in their container: Most of these foods are TV dinner-type foods, which tend to be unbalanced (how many green veggies?) and full of sodium. Even the ones that are healthier (and others that aren’t in mini cafeteria trays) are still in containers that leech chemicals into the food. Sure, they’re convenient, but at what cost?
Any “health food” that has candy added to it: trail mix, granola, yogurt, etc. A handful of nuts and no-sugar-added dried fruit is a healthy snack. Add M&Ms and coat the peanuts in chocolate? Not so healthy.
Any “health food” that is flavored: milk, non-dairy milks, and yogurts are the most common. You’re much better off buying plain and adding your own fruit or other flavoring. The pre-flavored varieties are loaded with sugar.
Chips: doesn’t matter what they’re made from or if they’re baked or fried. Some are healthier than others, but none are health food.
Anything fried: you’d think this goes without saying. Fish is healthy (generally). Fried fish is not.
“Special diet” processed foods: gluten-free, vegetarian, vegan, dairy-free, etc., etc. Food is not inherently healthy just because a particular ingredient is missing.
Canned food: besides the chemicals in the lining of the cans, most canned food has either too much salt or sugar in it. Opt for frozen instead, if you have the option.
Sports drinks: you need to exercise at a high intensity for a long time before you need to start to worry about your electrolytes.
Organic junk food: just because it’s organic doesn’t mean it’s healthy. Produce, meats, dairy? Yes. Cookies, cakes, candy? No.
Protein bars and shakes: most of them have a lot of sugar. And if you’re eating a remotely typical American diet, you’re getting more than enough protein.
What foods were you surprised to learn (today or ever) are not as good for you as you thought?