Replace Those Unhealthy “Health” Foods Part 2

So last time we met (for more than some dreadful food recall, that is) I had pointed out an article that highlights several “health” foods that we would all be healthier if we’d simply do without.  Bigg Sis and I are constantly surprised by the health claims of food manufacturers and their willingness to present their products in ways that suggest they’re good for you when, in fact, they simply are not.  To continue down a positive road in reaction to this info, I’d like to finish (part 1 here) replacing Buzzfeed’s list of 18 bogus health foods with real healthful suggestions.  On with the show.

P100070210. V8. Why? Easy – sodium, sodium, sodium. Here’s a tip for you, when you’re reaching for a processed food product on the counter (and I’m assuming you’re committed to that product), take a look and see if there is a “low sodium” version of that food right next to it.  If there is, guess what?  That means that product has a LOT of salt, and the lower sodium version may well have a lot of salt too (lower being a relative term). Personally, I recommend water for any occasion in which you are actually thirsty.  If you’re trying to get more veggies, eat some veggies.  If you really love tomato juice, look for a brand that has only vegetables as ingredients. If you REALLY want healthful juice, consider making your own.  Bigg Sis has been juicing her behind off (well, okay not OFF – that would not really be good for her posture).

11. Diet Soda. Why? Artificial sweeteners foul up our taste buds and can actually make you want MORE sweet stuff.  And that’s the least of it.  There are a lot of claims about the possible negative health effects associated with artificial sweeteners, and to be honest I imagine there are varying degrees of accuracy here, but I’m sure it’s not worth it. Water, unsweetened tea, coffee, green tea, lemon water, watered down real juice.  There are a lot of options to get rid of this dreadful crutch.

12. Muffins.  Why? Again, I like the author’s explanation best. “Just because you eat it for breakfast and it has fruit in it doesn’t mean it’s healthy. It’s only one step away from being a cupcake.” What would the Sis sisters recommend? If you are muffin person – deeply committed to muffindom, then try this healthy apple oat muffin recipe for an occasional muffin treat. Or try this Intensely Good  banana bread.  If you usually eat a muffin because you don’t have time for breakfast or to bake, how about making yourself a peanut butter and banana sandwich the night before and grabbing it on the way out the door?

DSC0765913. Veggie Chips. Why? The author says by the time these veggies are chips, they’re really not offering you any of the benefits that vegetables should.  He may be right about that.  Hard call as I admit to having a soft spot for chips. And pardon me for assuming here that veggie chips are not someone’s attempt to eat vegetables, but are more likely an attempt to eat a healthier chip.  Personally my chip crush is largely salt related, so I try to feed the salt craving in cheaper, lower impact ways.  I do keep some whole wheat salty crackers around (Triscuits are good for this and have about 3 ingredients) or occasionally whip up a batch of Bigg Sis’ super awesome during football season Roasted Chili Lime Nuts. Other substitutions? Popcorn (cooked in a pot, not a bag, yes it’s easy), whole wheat toast with some herbed sunflower cheese.

14. Activia. Why? “more sugar than a can of Coke”  I want to ring an alarm bell on ALL individual sized flavored yogurts here. Know what’s bad for your gut health? Sugar.  So all those nice probiotics you’re putting in there with Activia will be very busy dealing with the candy bar amount of sugar in the container. Trade out for a lower sugar yogurt.  Better still, buy plain yogurt and mix in your own fruit.

15. Baked Chips. Why? Know what they did to get them to make you want more of these impostors?  Added high fructose corn syrup, that’s what. Yep, liquid non-sugar to your “healthier” chip.  Gross. I’ll refer you to the veggie chip section above for alternate suggestions.

16. Breakfast Cereal. SUGAR, SUGAR, SUGAR.  We’ve talked about breakfast cereal a lot here, and it really is a great place to make some changes in your diet with one swap.  So many of those cereals are basically candy in a box, as I explained to my kids right there in the Costco cereal aisle. We eat some cereal around here, but we stick to options that have less than 5 grams per serving or they must mix it with a seriously low sugar option. Want a cheap, nutritious, and super easy option for the morning – how about breakfast waiting for you when you wake up? Overnight steel cut oats are perfect for the coming cooler months.

17. Multigrain Bread. Why? Stopera says that whole wheat bread has more fiber and nutrients than multigrain bread, that you might as well eat white if you’re going to eat multigrain.  I’m not sure that’s quite right as I have seen MANY different kinds of multigrain bread, some of which contain LOTS of whole grains. I’m going to say if you’re going to get multigrain instead of plain whole wheat, be sure to get one that is made with whole grains.  As for white bread, I’d like to remind you of the mystery ingredients in white bread.  To quote my fabulous sister. “Just as an example, azidocarbamide is a dough conditioner used in many breads that can also be used to clean your boat.  For real.” Ditch the gooey bread.  Heck, why not learn an incredibly useful skill and bake some of your own whole mixed grain bread.  SO satisfying AND you get to smell it!

18. Bottled Green Tea. Why? If you can’t guess, you’ve not had bottled green tea.  The brand Stopera highlights in his article has 61 grams of sugar.  That’s insane.  I can think of so many things I’d rather spend 61 grams of sugar on than a bottle of questionable tea bought at the gas station. The replacement for this one is really easy.  Brew some tea. Add just a tiny bit of sugar. Put in bottles. Grab when leaving. Done, for far less than 61 grams of sugar.

So there you are 18 Baby Steps you can take to REAL healthful food and a real healthy life.

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22 responses

  1. When NutraSweet first came out, my doctor immediately informed me not to allow my children to have anything with this in it. His explanation was that it can alter the DNA of individuals with less than 80 lbs of body weight. I would shake my head at the Bill Cosby Jello commercials showing all these children eating these little cups full of NutraSweet. My boys never had it. If they wanted a sugary treat they got one with real sugar in it.

    I didn’t buy cold cereal either. Warm weather we had fresh fruit and homemade bread (whole grains) in the colder months the slow cooker worked overtime preparing a wholesome breakfast ready when we woke up.

      • I believe it’s because people want to have the foods and drinks they enjoy but don’t want the calories. I have a friend who did this. She buys sugar-free jello, puddings, ice cream bars, and 100 calorie packs of junk food. She believes this is the way to maintain her weight loss and not suffer giving up the junk foods. I cringe every time I see her eating these “foods” rather than a meal.

  2. So interesting!! I actually was nervous to read this thinking that I would be forced to admit that some of my favorite food really aren’t that great. Luckily, I already figured most of those things weren’t as great as they claimed. Thanks for all the great info!

  3. Wow! I think you hit them all! The most common comment you made: read the label! I think I will make some bread today. It is a little bit cooler, down to the 80′s. My family likes toast in the morning if we don’t have cold cereal. Winter is oatmeal. This saves money too. Healthy eating costs less!

    Thank you for sharing!

  4. This is a really great list! We don’t eat any grains as a whole. The only exception is steal cut oatmeal for breakfast. Every few weeks we might have a bread product, but it’s been proven that even very whole wheat bread that has high fiber causes blood sugar spikes more than a snickers bar. I saw a Dr. Oz show and he didn’t believe it because he has always promoted whole wheat bread. He did the study himself and the slice of bread caused a 2x’s high blood spike than a whole snickers bar. Very bad for the health grains are.

    • Thanks Allyson. We’ve cut back on our grains over the last year, but have not completely eliminated them as of yet. I’ll have to check out the blood sugar spike bit – that is troubling. Thanks for sharing!

      • Any carb without a protein or fat will raise your blood sugar. When I grind my wheat for bread, I also grind: oats, barley, lentils, black beans and/or white beans to go in my bread. I also add oat bran and wheat bran to the mix. Then I need to add some gluten to hold it together. My sweetener is honey. I may have missed something…

        I was gestational diabetic and now pre-diabetic. I learned that each person is different and reacts differently to carbs. For me, beans are neutral. It’s both carb and protein, with plenty of fiber. It made no difference on my blood sugar. It’s carbs in isolation that make trouble, but sometimes you need to bring your blood sugar up!

        The glycemic index is not the whole story! It’s just a piece in the puzzle and a tool. Test the foods for yourself and see how it goes with you.

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