The diet and food industry could not be more confusing. Walking down super market isles, the boxes and cans look more like the food cartoon characters would eat – not people – and definitely not a confident, empowered woman! To create a healthy diet, you have to make the right choices!
With hundreds of food products advertised as healthy, good for weight loss, or ideal for busy cooks, it’s easy to fall into a trap and wonder why you’re not reaching your health goals.
Most of the time, food marketed as “healthy” can be loaded with chemicals, sugars, and other unhealthy additives. These can make us tired, overweight, depressed, anxious, insecure, and just plain – BLEH.
Truthfully, labels like “low-fat,” “whole grain”, “all natural,” or “made with organic ingredients,” can be used more as marketing hooks than good advice. If you want a healthy diet, you need good tools!
Here is a list of 10 foods to avoid and ways to alter then to improve your diet.
1. Store Bought Salad Dressing
Most salad dressings, even if they are “light” salad dressings have a crazy amount of ingredients. They are often filled with preservatives, sodium and other ingredient fillers that can literally make you addicted to processed foods! Instead, try making a simple vinaigrette with olive oil, vinegar and a little sea salt and pepper. Lemon and olive oil whisked together will add a nice, light tang to your salad!
2. Flavored Yogurt
Yogurt, even if it’s fat-free, can have a lot of calories, sugar, or chemical additives. Flavored yogurt is especially high in sugar, cancer-causing fake sugars and flavoring, and ADHD causing food dyes. Instead, buy plain yogurt and flavor it yourself with some fresh fruit and a bit of honey.
3. Frozen Yogurt
Though natural frozen yogurt is often low in fat and calories, many varieties of frozen yogurt is loaded with sugar, fake sugars, or chemicals. These ingredients actually make you fat – more than a traditional ice cream would!
4. Dried Fruit
Dried fruit has more sugar than fresh fruit, and sugar leads to weight gain and energy loss. Many dried fruit varieties also have preservatives like sulfur that you want to avoid. Dried fruit can be a nice “candy,” but make sure you are getting an all natural source with no additives.
Though nuts are delicious, satisfying, and full of nutrients, they are also high in calories. Which means if you’re watching your weight, you want to be careful with portion sizes. With nuts, a little goes a long way! When choosing nut butter, make sure to pick out a natural nut butter because non-natural versions can pack a lot of sugar, pesticides, and other chemicals.
Many smoothies these days are made with highly calorie or processed ingredients. The best bet for smoothies is making them yourself at home. That way you know exactly what is going into the smoothies and can make sure to include plenty of nutritious whole foods. A water or tea base is usually a better choice than dairy! This is a great way to pack in your healthy foods into one meal!
7. Protein Bars
Protein bars may seem like a great meal or snack on the go. However, if you look closely at the label you will probably discover that protein bars are highly processed and contain a lot of ‘filler foods’ and artificial ingredients that you definitely don’t want. Opt for an all natural granola, a raw energy bar, or some trail mix instead.
8. Gluten Free Products
Recently there has been a lot of hype in the health world surrounding “gluten free.” Gluten free products can still be packaged and processed. The best gluten free foods are not packaged; they are fruits, vegetables and whole (gluten-free) grains like brown rice. Sound familiar?
9. Frozen Diet Dinners
Though these may seem like a convenient way to get “everything you need” under a certain amount of calories, most diet dinners contain far from “everything you need.” Using a microwave to cook these dinners will kill most of the nutrients it did contain and they also pack a lot of sodium and chemical preservatives.
10. Wheat Bread
Unless the package specifically says 100% whole wheat, it was probably made with mostly white flour with a bit of wheat flour for marketing purposes. Make sure to check that the bread also has at least 2 grams of fiber. Whole grains like wheatberries, quinoa, or millet will always be a better choice though!