After asking how much water a client drinks, the next question I ask is “Tell me what you might eat during an average day.” Frequently, the client will start with “I eat pretty healthy…” and continue with a list of not-so-healthy foods. Below is a short list of foods that people think are healthy, but aren’t – along with some healthier alternatives.
Yogurt: Most of the yogurt people are eating these days is loaded with high-fructose corn syrup and artificial colors and flavors. While the “live and active cultures” could potentially bring some benefits, the combination of the items I just mentioned along with, 15-18+ grams of sugar (even in your Greek yogurt), pasteurization of the cow’s milk (which makes this yogurt difficult to digest), puts most yogurt far into the category of “not a health food”. The “light” version, with artificial sweeteners fall smack into the “junk food” column.
Alternative to Yogurt: Chia Pudding
- 1 ½ cups unsweetened almond or coconut milk
- ¼ cup + 2 tablespoons chia seeds
- 2 tablespoons honey or real maple syrup (optional)
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ cup almond butter or sun butter (or similar)
- Add all ingredients to an airtight container and whisk together
- Refrigerate overnight (to saturate the chia seeds)
- Makes 4 servings
Cereal: So, in my head, I don’t even go to the pink and green processed sugary puffs, but even things like Raisin Bran, Cheerios, and (gluten free) Chex do not make my list of healthy foods. Here’s why. Raisins used to be grapes and grapes that aren’t organic contain some of the highest levels of pesticides in the fruit world (just behind apples and strawberries). Bran is wheat bran and wheat is loaded with gluten, a highly inflammatory molecule. Wheat is often sprayed with herbicides shortly before harvesting in order to really kill and dry out the plant. “Cheerios” exceed the recommended ratio of sodium and contain both modified corn starch (sometimes a pseudonym for MSG) and sugar in the top ingredients. Chex, even though some of their formulas are gluten-free, contains nearly double the recommended ratio of sodium, 26 grams of carbs, and the kicker… BHT (a chemical preservative shown to cause cancer).
Alternative to Cereal:
See Chia Pudding recipe above.
Whole-Grain or Whole-Wheat Bread, Toast, Bagels, etc.: For decades our brains have been imprinted with the phrase “healthy whole grains”. This is brainwashing. Most of the whole grains people are consuming these days are genetically modified (oh yeah, that’s what’s in your cereal too), which have been linked to allergies, food sensitivities, auto-immune disorders, and even autism. Beyond that, even organic whole wheat bread will raise your blood sugar (creating inflammation) more than actual table sugar. Most bread contains a dough conditioner called bromine which has been shown to be toxic to the thyroid. Bread, of any kind, does not qualify as a health food.
Alternatives to Bread: Think outside the sandwich. If you need to eat with your hands/fingers, lettuce wraps are an alternative, but after some adjusting and acceptance, realizing that you can eat the ingredients of your sandwich alone or with dipping vegetables or fruit, you eventually don’t even miss it. You also won’t miss the bloating that is common in a diet containing bread products.
Turkey: This is another impressive marketing accomplishment. We have been brainwashed to believe that turkey (turkey bacon, turkey hot dogs, or the cold-cut version) was a health food. It’s not. It’s LOADED with chemicals including sodium nitrites – known to cause cancer.
Alternatives to Turkey: Organic, free-range, turkey as long as you read the label and you know exactly what the ingredients are… Turkey.
The list of foods that people think are healthy, but really aren’t, goes on and on – but I won’t. The last thing I will include relates to water. Somehow people think that adding artificial flavors and colors to your water is OK. It’s not. Those chemicals are not nutrients and provide no benefit to your body. Your body views them as toxins. If you want to flavor your water, squeeze some citrus fruit, or use frozen berries as ice cubes. Adding packets of chemicals is a bad idea.
Cheers to you for wanting to eat healthy! I’m sorry for all the marketing/brainwashing that has made you think that these processed foods are somehow good for you. The simple tip of the day is to read labels. If you know what every ingredient is (and it’s not sugar), that’s a start.
I do offer nutrition consultations where you can keep a food journal for a week and we will go over it together (in the office or over the phone) and I can help you to identify health saboteurs and alternatives that you will enjoy and will support you in achieving your wellness goals.
Patti Bartsch, M.A., Ph.D.
Naturally Unbridled Wellness LLC – 200 Mason St. #11 Onalaska, WI 54650
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Board Certified: The American Council of Holistic Medicine
The information in this message is for educational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prescribe for any disease or condition. Information presented by Patti Bartsch, Ph.D. is not a replacement for qualified medical care. Consult your preferred healthcare provider when making wellness choices.