My posts are usually pretty light and fluffy. I share healthy recipes, health tips, my travel pictures and more. This post is a little different in that you may not like what I’m about to say – especially if you buy these items on a regular basis.
Since completing my nutrition course I’ve learned a lot about what qualifies as a healthy choice. Over the past few months I’ve kept an on-going list of foods that used to fill my cupboards and fridge on a regular basis that I no longer consider healthy choices.
I want to share this list with you, and the health reasons behind why you should avoid buying these foods the next time you go grocery shopping.
Orange cheddar cheese: I used to buy bricks of orange cheddar cheese all the time! I now buy Cracker Barrel extra old, white cheddar (Canadian dairy with no added growth hormones or antibiotics) because most orange, marble and havarti cheeses have orange dye or ‘colour’ on their ingredient list. This amounts to added toxic chemicals your body doesn’t need.
Coke Zero: or all pop in general, really. I specifically included this one because I used to have a Coke Zero every day, and I would have headaches, sugar cravings, and feel really tired as a result. These are just a few things that aspartame does to your body. If you’re craving something other than water, Perrier with natural grapefruit flavor is a good choice. You can also add a splash of 100 percent cranberry juice and a squeeze of lime to your water. If you’re a true pop lover, the Soda Stream is a great way to make your own natural, carbonated beverages, and it’s better for the environment!
Sugar-free yogurt: I wrote a post about healthy yogurt choices recently, but sugar-free yogurt simply means that it’s been sweetened with aspartame —a chemical that can cause neurological diseases and that will cause you to crave more sugar. Plain full-fat or Greek yogurt topped with fresh fruit, homemade granola or real maple syrup is a healthier choice.
Maple flavoured oatmeal: is full of refined sugar. If you want maple flavored oatmeal then simply add one teaspoon of real maple syrup to a bowl of plain, 100 percent whole grain oatmeal. Real maple syrup, a natural sugar that is a source of vitamins and minerals, is a healthier choice than refined sugar that will spike your blood sugar and turn into fat.
Lean Cuisine microwave meals: I used to have one of these for lunch at least three times per week because I liked the fact that they were easy, and only 300 calories. News flash: 300 calories of nutrient-void food is not enough. There are plenty of healthy, easy lunch options out there that will keep you satisfied. For example, Ryvita rye crackers with hummus, avocado and fresh veggies is a great choice because it’s a combination of fiber from the rye and fresh veggies, protein from the hummus and healthy fats from the avocado. Cooking double portions of healthy dinners (such as my Broccoli Mushroom Frittata) for lunch leftovers is also a great option.
100 calorie Thinsations: are full of aspartame and preservatives. I used to buy boxes of these chemical-filled, fake desserts. Aspartame tricks your brain into thinking it’s having sugar. When your body realizes that it’s not actually getting glucose for fuel it will cause you to start craving sugar. Preservatives are toxic chemicals that will only prevent your body from functioning properly. Have a natural dessert such as 2 dates, 2 squares of dark chocolate and a few almonds instead (full of antioxidants and fibre). Or, try making one of my healthy desserts!
Lean chicken meatballs: I ate these little suckers on a regular basis because I thought: “it’s protein; it’s good for me.” Not the case. These meatballs are made with low quality meat and are full of sodium and preservatives. You don’t need as much protein in your diet as you think. Women need 40 grams per day and men need 60 grams per day. You can get protein from healthy vegetarian sources such as legumes and whole grains (try my Chick Pea Cherry Tomato pasta), nuts and seeds.
White bagels: are 300 calories, have zero nutrients, spike your blood sugar (which turns the calories into fat), and leaves you feeling hungry again soon after. Choose other healthy breakfast choices such as plain oatmeal or quinoa with nuts and seeds and fresh fruit or plain yogurt with whole wheat granola and fresh fruit. If you really want bread, buy sprouted bread that is made with 100 percent whole grains and full of digestive enzymes.
Regular or sugar-free jam: regular jam is full of sugar, which we have learned turns into fat and leaves you feeling hungry. Sugar-free jam is full of aspartame, which is a chemical that can cause headaches, sugar cravings, fatigue and neurological diseases. What’s the healthy alternative? Make your own jam with fresh fruit, chia seeds and real maple syrup. Check out this awesome, easy jam recipe from Oh She Glows.
Regular peanut butter: is high in sugar, salt and hydrogenated vegetable oil, which raises bad LDL cholesterol levels, and can create free radicals that cause cancer and premature aging. Choose natural peanut butter instead, and sweeten it with fresh or dried fruit such as bananas, blueberries, raspberries, raisins or dates. You can also try other natural nut butters such as almond, sunflower or pumpkin seed.
Margarine: is made with hydrogenated vegetable oil, which raises bad LDL cholesterol levels, and can create free radicals that cause cancer & premature aging. Try coconut oil instead. You can use it in place of margarine and butter for most things, and it is considered a healthy saturated fat.
Notice a theme here? You should avoid “foods” that include:
-Preservatives and are sold as packaged foods (except for my list of “in a pinch” packaged foods)
-Refined flour products
-Chemical food dyes
-Hydrogenated vegetable oil
-Poor quality meat products
There are a lot more foods on my list, but I chose these ones in particular because I used to eat them on a regular basis, and I considered myself a healthy person. A big part of living a healthy lifestyle is becoming educated about healthy choices. I hope this post will make you think twice about purchasing these foods in the future, and will inspire you to make healthier choices! I promise you’ll start feeling better, and you won’t miss them.