Are foods disguised as “healthy” causing inflammation and increasing your risk of disease and weight gain?
We’ve been misled! Nutritional trends coupled with jargon labeling have totally gotten us off track with “clean” foods that nourish and heal. Instead, most grocery stores and grocery carts are loaded with foods disguised as healthy.
Common mistake! We think of certain foods as being healthy, including cereal, yogurt, juicing/juices/fruit smoothies, fruit/dried fruit, nuts, energy or sports drinks, sandwiches, and cereal or granola bars as staples in a healthy diet. But, it’s time to reconsider, and maybe not for the reasons you might think!
Let’s dig in…
CEREAL and GRANOLA is almost always unusually high in sugar and low in fiber. Sodium levels can also be an issue. Best practice: Read the label and maintain that the 5 to 1 ratio of total carbs to fiber. For example, if total carbs are 48 and fiber is 6, then divide 48/6 = 8. That’s too high! Stick with whole grain, warm cereals such as oatmeal and buckwheat. Add berries and cinnamon for natural sweetness!
YOGURT of any sweetened variety is too high in sugar. Your rule of thumb is 24g daily sugar (6 tsp) for women, and 36g daily sugar (9 tsp) for men. Yogurt almost always pushes your limit of sugar intake for the day. And, dairy yogurt adds to your inflammatory load. Stick with plain, coconut yogurt. Again, cinnamon and berries are your “go to’s” for added sweetness and flavor!
JUICES, JUICING, and FRUIT SMOOTHIES are unusually high in sugar (many times exceeding that of a soda!), and with the exception of a smoothie, no fiber is included from the flesh of the fruit, so your blood sugar levels skyrocket and drop quickly, making you hungry again. Whip up a green smoothie using my formula (link below) using water with almond milk or use my fast remedy, a Green Power Shake (use my health code, “pacerkristen” to receive $50 off your order)…simply mix with water and ice for a quick green drink.
FRUIT and DRIED FRUIT are unsuspecting culprits in the health journey. Dried fruit is a smaller unit of the fresh variety (think raisins, apples, and apricots), so it’s more tempting to load up on large quantities that inevitably contain high amounts of sugar. Same thing with fruit. The daily fruit recommendation is 2-3 servings, with the balance of produce going to vegetables. Of course, we gravitate towards the sweeter variety…FRUIT! Go easy on fruit, stick to 2-3 daily servings, and eat fresh!
NUTS have long been a staple in healthy diets…and they should be! Also know that some nuts are healthier than others, and this is a case where more isn’t better! Large quantities of nuts is not a good thing! This is where quality becomes a big factor. Roasted, salted nuts/mixed nuts are not the best choices. A 2008 publication in the “Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry” showed an increase of lipid oxidation indicators and also trans fats (a type of fast linked to negative health effects) in heat treated nuts compared to the raw ones.
As much as I love almonds, in particular, it’s important also to note that these nuts are heavily sprayed with glyphosate, the active, toxic ingredient in Roundup. In essence, the almonds become a carrier for the toxin to enter your body unless buying 100% certified organic (and even then you might be getting trace amounts, as is the case with any organic food).
Nuts provide a super source of essential, healthy fats, Omega 6s and Omega 3s (walnuts). However, the Standard American Diet (SAD) is already top-heavy with Omega 6s from fast food, processed foods, dairy, meat, and vegetable oils. When the ratio of Omega 6 is greater than a 4:1 ratio, relative to Omega 3 ( most diets are in the 16:1 ratio), inflammation and greater risk of disease and weight gain are sure to follow. Healthier approach with nuts?…Use organic, raw, unsalted nuts as a snack…a handful will do it. And, stick with nut butters containing only nuts (no added sugar or salt). Portion out nut butter into containers to stick with the recommended 2 tbsp serving size for grab and go options.
ENERGY and SPORTS DRINKS populate the shelves. But let’s keep this in perspective, the most popular brands were created to support the electrolyte and hydration requirements of actively training, high-performing college students, not your average gym-goer or runner. What’s more, these drinks have become such a staple in American homes, the manufacturers have gone to lengths to make pretty colors (artificial), with fancy flavors that are loaded with sugar. Thinking a blue sugary drink with a fancy name will help you perform better is just crazy talk! Please stick with natural sports hydration and electrolyte replacement from coconut water.
SANDWICHES have long been the “go to” lunch for most. Again, a walk through history will explain the misguided practice of a sandwich for lunch. Dating back to the 1700’s the Earl of Sandwich, John Montagu, “invented” the sandwich so he could remain at the gambling table to eat his dinner of meats. Whether it’s true or not, the fact remains…A lunchtime sandwich truly is a convenience food comprising deli meats full of sodium and nitrates, a double serving of processed, refined bread (please note one slice is a serving, not two slices!) with less than a serving of nourishing greens such as kale and spinach. You get the idea! A double serving of processed bread with added sugars alongside inflammatory meats and cheeses…enough said. Better choice? Stick with a green, leafy salad, avocado, seeds, beans, and a squeeze of lemon with seasonings (link to my mason jar salads in comments below).
CEREAL AND PROTEIN BARS take up nearly a whole aisle at the grocery store. Everyone loves them, and who wouldn’t? A snack or meal replacement with dense nutrients, added protein, chocolate, berries, and nuts all wrapped up in a bar that looks, feels, and carries in your bag like a full on candy bar! And that’s precisely the idea! Most of these bars are truly glorified candy bars in disguise with added sugars/sugar alcohols and chemicals. Please remember the origin of the protein bar/cereal bar! These were intended for hikes and adventures when eating real food was unrealistic. Choose bars wisely. Look for 5 or fewer real ingredients or make your own, and keep them in reserve when you truly are in a pinch!
Bottom Line? Quantity and quality matter! Foods containing hidden, refined sugar or flour as well as fast options that sacrifice the nutritional benefit found in whole, real foods or that compromise your intake of healing fruits and vegetables increase inflammation and risk of disease. Overcrowd your diet with the “good stuff” first…dark, leafy greens, beans, seeds, whole grains, fresh fruit, and “yes” a small bit of natural sweets too!