With so much talk of healthy foods and what you should be eating, the foods that are the worst for us can get overlooked. The reason it’s so hard to avoid these kinds of food is because the things that make them bad also make them taste good. Fatty foods typically taste good, so do sweet and salty ones, which means a lot of the foods you love are likely not the best things you can have.
But you don’t have to resort to living like Tom Hanks in Castaway. There are plenty of foods that you can turn to that taste amazing and won’t jeopardize your well-being. It’s about learning why certain foods are bad, so you can make better choices on a day-to-day basis. That being said, here are some dietary landmines to watch out for, and step around.
Most ketchup ends up on french fries, and few stop to consider that it’s actually acting to make the fries more unhealthy. That’s because it uses High Fructose Corn Syrup as it’s #3 ingredient – at least in a bottle of America’s #1 Bestselling ketchup: Heinz. There’s 4g of sugar total, and the majority of that will come from HFCS. Do yourself a favor and stay away from the fries altogether. Try adding anti-inflammatory spices and herbs to your food for seasoning instead of condiments.
Many people turn to cereals as a healthy start to their day, or as a nutritious breakfast for their children. Kelloggs is a big offender with several popular brands containing HFCS including Froot Loops, Apple Jacks, Corn Flakes, Frosted Flakes, Frosted Mini-Wheats, Smorz, Rice Krispies, and Special K. Kelloggs is not the only one in on the act, with General Mills adding it to Trix, and Post adding it to Oreo O’s. Try a big bowl of oatmeal instead and top it wil blueberries and flaxseed for a heart-healthy breakfast.
It’s America’s favorite dressing and dipping sauce, but ever wonder why you can’t get enough of it, and why it makes so many things taste better? One of the most popular nationwide brands, Hidden Valley Ranch, has it in its ingredients, as well as Maltodextrin, Modified Food Starch, and other artificial flavors and sweeteners. If you must dip your foods, try using hummus or guacamole instead.
Set aside the high amounts of trans fat, saturated fat, calories, and cholesterol that comes with frying foods, since that’s been covered many times before and most of us already know about those dangers. Another reason to avoid eating fried foods is that most of them will contain MSG. One of the easiest ways to get fried food with MSG in it is to stop into KFC and order anything fried from their menu. They’re not the only culprit, not by a long shot. MSG is prevalent in so many packaged foods that it’s almost a given that if it comes from a major food supplier, is fried and comes in a package, it will contain some amount of MSG.
The more flavoring a chip has, the more MSG and other artificial ingredients you can expect it to have. We recommend making your own homemade chips using organic sweet potatoes. Slice them thin, coat them in olive oil and your favorite spices, and bake them in the oven for a perfect crunchy snack you can feel good about. Also, try some kale chips, too.
6.Light Foods and Beverages
If you’re calorie conscious you might be attracted to foods that are advertised as Lite or Light, since they’ll have fewer calories than their regular counterparts. But what you’re trading the calories for is typically artificial sweeteners that might be calorie-free but have their own side effects and health hazards. Always remember that real, whole food is best.
7.Diet Colas and Sodas
Diet sodas don’t contain High Fructose Corn Syrup, but in its place are sweeteners like aspartame. Research shows that aspartame is linked to a higher risk of dementia and stroke. Forget the soda and diet soda altogether and stick with water or unsweetened herbal tea. Check out our article on how to stay hydrated without soda.
8.Packaged Diet Snacks
Many of these snack packs come in 100 calorie sizes, which appeals to many dieters. But you should always choose whole foods over packaged or processed foods. This is because they are higher in nutrients to heal the body and promote weight loss. Even at 100 calories, you are still putting junk in your body when you choose packaged diet snacks.
As a general rule of thumb, it’s a good idea to stay away from cheese because it’s highly inflammatory. This is especially true if you have an autoimmune disorder. Processed cheese contains a ton of sodium, which is also problematic for your health. Be sure to stay away from Cheez Whiz, as that has almost a quarter of the RDA of sodium in one serving. Stick with hard cheeses that are naturally sourced from pasture-raised cows that contain no antibiotics or hormones.
The problem with salty snacks is that the salt makes you keep eating them. Once you have the salty flavor on your taste buds you automatically reach for another chip. And the sodium is only one concern, as these snacks are usually cooked in partially hydrogenated oils giving them trans fats, and use artificial seasonings and flavorings. We recommend making your own vegetable chips at home using olive oil and sea salt.
Because of the processing they go through most lunch meats are packed with extra sodium as well as nitrates. There are plenty of reasons to take a pass on lunch meats, or at least to read the labels before you buy in order to make sure that you are getting meat that isn’t loaded with fillers and additives. Some other top concerns are the bacteria listeria which can pose a problem for pregnant women, sodium nitrate, which could potentially be cancer-causing, and added oils and sweeteners, which add to the fat and carb count.
For a long time bagels were thought of as a healthy way to start the day, until the no-carb fad came along. Now they are gaining popularity again, but is it justified? A plain bagel from Einstein Bros. Bagels contains 59g of carbohydrates, and uses up 45% of your daily allowance. Chances are when you’re having a bagel, you’re not leaving it plain and are topping it off with cream cheese, butter, jelly, or making a breakfast sandwich with it, which only makes it less healthy for you.