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  • Tara Perverseff

Do you think these foods are healthy? They might not be...

What are some things you might be eating that you think are healthy, but given a closer look, might not be? First of all, let me start off by saying that if you think these things are good for you, it's not your fault. Marketing strategies used by Big Food companies (think Kellogg's, Nestle, Pepsico and Danone) label things like "hearty healthy", "low fat", and "non-GMO". But, just because a label says this, is it better for you than one without? Food is complicated and is truly a controller of the state of our health or disease. Most of the foods on the list below are ones that cause inflammation, and of course, inflammation is leading to chronic disease in the body.

What are some things you might be eating that a. you don't realize are not healthy for you, or b. are eating and think they are good for you?

Industrial Seed Oils: Soybean, canola and corn oils are EVERYWHERE. These are the highly processed oils extracted from things like soybeans, corn and rapeseed. These oils are cheap and are in everything from crackers to hummus to turkey pepperoni. A major modification to canola was made in the mid-1990's that introduced a genetically engineered canola to contain bacteria DNA to make it resistant to the toxic herbicide, glyphosate (aka Round up). Yep, the stuff you used to spray on your weeds in the garden. About 90% of Canola crops are genetically engineered to resist Roundup. Canola is doused in a carcinogenic herbicide and that is going into your food. Ever heard of Monsanto? Now there's an interesting story...

Yogurt: It's often full of sugar. A Danone yogurt has 13 grams of sugar and 16 grams of carbs (refined carbs turn into sugar in the body). Read your labels, especially when you are buying that yogurt for the kids.

Granola: This might have a reputation as being a health food, but that is not exactly well-earned. Most granola is made with sugar and vegetable oil. Whether you are spreading it on your yogurt or eating it as a breakfast cereal, perhaps not the best choice.

Low-fat Salad Dressing: These dressings make up for their lack of flavor that their full-fat counterparts have by adding sugar, high fructose corn syrup, and seed oils. There are salad dressings out there that per serving, have 14 grams of sugar. Guess what? Half a snickers bar has that same amount.

Whole Wheat Bread: Not the health food you were hoping for. Making something whole wheat does not make it more healthy. Most whole wheat bread contains sugar and enriched flour which can give you a sugar spike and then a crash. All types of bread have the same result on your body, whole wheat or not. Enriched flour just means it is stripped of nutrients.

Dried Fruit: Most dried fruit contains added sugar and preservatives to keep it shelf stable. Given that the fruit is dried, it will have at least 3 times more calories than its whole food counterpart. Best to eat a whole piece of fruit. You'll end up eating less, too.

Reduced Fat Nut Butters: These will contain added sugar, processed oils and salt. Best to just stick to its full-fat natural counterpart.

Protein Bars: All I can say about these is read the label! Many contain added sugar and quite frankly, words I can't pronounce. A good rule of thumb? If you can't pronounce and ingredient and have NO idea what it is... should you be eating it? There are some bars that contain minimally processed ingredients (I buy RX Bars or Macro Bars sometimes for my kids). These aren't necessarily protein bars, though as they are far higher in carbs than protein.

Gluten Free Snack Foods: I get it, and in a pinch, when you want a pretzel, and you are gluten free, a gluten free pretzel is it. That said, these snacks are still highly processed and a gluten free cookie is still a cookie.

I wonder what people from 60 years ago would think about grocery stores today? We can basically have any food we want at the snap of a finger. Where there is little work going into making and eating food, is that convenience and inflammation worth your health?

Yes, meal prep takes time and planning, but when done right, it's just as easy to grab a piece of cooked chicken from the fridge as it is to grab a protein bar. That said, the habit of grabbing the granola bar instead of the cooked chicken is sometimes the biggest challenge. Highly palatable foods make it difficult for the brain to choose that chicken... Next time you feel like something out of the pantry, try looking for another option. Even if you do it part of the time, celebrate those better choices.

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