Ladies, I need to let you in on a little secret. One of your biggest enemies is not the mean girl from math class or the bully in the lunch room, it’s actually, your seemingly friendly food marketer. In my opinion, food marketers can be public enemy number one, because they figure out how to make not so healthy food products appear good for you. You start eating a lot of these unhealthy health foods and before you know it, you’re feeling kind of flat.
Below I’ve identified three choices that are commonly mistaken for “healthy foods” because of the way they are advertised to you. The main unhealthy culprit in the foods I’ve highlighted below is sugar. It has a way of sneaking into packaged foods to improve the taste, but it ultimately offsets any of the products intended benefits.
3 Unhealthy Health Foods To Avoid Right Now
Bars in Sheep’s Clothing
Often marketed as high in protein, “bars” are typically sugar-laden logs disguised as nutrition nirvana. For example, Power Bar’s Protein Plus Vanilla Bar’s label boasts that it has “20 grams of protein” and that it’s gluten free. What they don’t promote is that it has a whopping 14 grams of sugar and 22 ingredients, most of which are difficult to pronounce!
If you need a bar to get you through a long day, be KIND to yourself. I like KIND bars because they have minimal, all-natural ingredients and most of their bars have around 5 grams of sugar.
Cereals’ Hidden Sugars
If you Google “healthy cereal,” one of the first links that appears is from General Mills who is “on a journey to make our cereals even better.” GM is now making cereals gluten free or with whole grains, but that doesn’t mean the cereal is healthy.
For example, Cinnamon Toast Crunch is touted as healthy because it’s made with whole grains. Reality check! A ¾ cup serving contains 9 grams of sugar, nearly 2 teaspoons. That might not sound like a lot, but the recommended daily allowance of added sugars is only 6 teaspoons per day, according to the America Heart Association.
My recommendation is to fuel your body and your brain at the beginning of the day with real food, not a bowl full of sugary cereal. Try eating plain oatmeal with mashed banana and a teaspoon of honey or agave. Full of fiber, it will curb hunger cravings all morning long and also promote great digestive health. Try these bars for a quick run out the door option.
A Jamba Reality Check
When you buy a smoothie from Jamba Juice and think you’re doing something good for yourself, think again! Most of Jamba Juice’s classic smoothies are made with non-fat frozen yogurt, sherbet, a juice blend and fruit. The small Banana Berry Smoothie actually has 59 GRAMS of sugar. I applaud Jamba Juice for adding some healthier options to their menu, but even the small Green King Matcha smoothie has 46 GRAMS of sugar.
The bottom line: think before you sip!
There are now several brands of smoothies available at local grocery stores, so my advice is to always read the labels and understand what you’re drinking. Try and select a smoothie or a juice that has a well-balanced mix of fruits and veggies, without added sweeteners like fruit juice or sugar.
It’s also helpful to know which fruits are lowest in sugar, because there is such thing as too much of a good thing! Fruits low in sugar are raspberries, strawberries and Granny Smith apples, to name a few. Another option: make your own at home! You’ll know what’s in it.
I’m not suggesting that you never eat these foods again, just be aware of what’s in them and the reasons why they aren’t going to earn a great grade from any nutritionist.
3 things that you can start doing today to outsmart food marketers:
Learn to read labels and understand how much sugar is too much sugar. I like to use 5 grams per serving as a good baseline, with some wiggle room up to about 10 grams. Know that sugar calories are sneaky and quickly convert to fat. High fructose corn syrup is especially troublesome as it is metabolized to fat in your body far more rapidly than any other sugar, according to Dr. Joseph Mercola.
Try and reduce the things that you eat that come out of a package/box/container, and stick to edible items that were made by nature. Frozen bananas dipped in a tablespoon of organic, no sugar added peanut butter are a perfect example!
Be aware of buzz words and learn to be a food detective. If you see the words gluten free, low-fat, or high in protein prominently promoted on a food package, read the label to get a better sense for whether or not it’s actually a healthy food.
Questions? Message me at firstname.lastname@example.org.