“Healthy” Foods That Are Big, Fat Liars

Remember when your parents finally told you that your budgie didn’t really go to live on the big budgie farm? That Uncle Harvey was less of your uncle and more of a special friend? That Santa was more about commerce and exploitation than you could ever have imagined? Well, I can’t help you with those betrayals. But, there are certain lies that continue to be told about “healthy” foods. And I plan to do my bit in unravelling them, watching them fall apart at the seams and die lonely and cold in a gutter. Or, if you’d rather…on the big lie farm where they graze with unicorns.

Some of the most annoying of these lies are those about the food we eat. I recently saw a massive marketing campaign about why the best breakfast for growing bodies was margarine on bread. Margarine. On bread. That gives me the proverbial Forest Whitaker eye.

Forest Whitaker eye
This one

 

 

 

 

 

 

So, here is a list of unhealthy foods that are masquerading (under very thin veils) as healthy:

Margarine – one polymer away from being a plastic. Ugh. Also, margarine increases ‘bad’ cholesterol, contains bleach and has a detrimental effect on thyroid function and digestive systems. REPLACE WITH: butter, olive oil, or coconut oil.
Muesli – delicious, yes. But only really because most commercial mueslis are packed with sugars. REPLACE WITH: a healthy muesli has no sugar and is made up only of raw oats, a limited number of nuts, no sugary fruit, and plenty of oily seeds. And you shouldn’t have much.
Bran muffins – these are jam-packed with wheat and sugar. You may as well just eat the darn cookie.
Multigrain breads – these actually just contain refined grains and flours, which don’t have the fibre we need (or that they pretend to have. It’s the lying that hurts).
Fat-free / low-fat products – 1) we need good fats, and 2) when they take the fat out of things like milk, it tastes the opposite of great, so they usually add sugar to remedy that. Great. No fat, added sugar. Exactly what we should be avoiding. REPLACE WITH: full-fat, even double-cream options.
Couscous – this is made of semolina, which is just a refined grain. Like pasta. REPLACE WITH: more delicious vegetables.
Rice cakes – hoorah! I”m so excited that these tacky little chunks of cardboard-flavoured nothingess can be scratched off my grocery list. They have no fibre and are actually considered to be carb-dense (not good). In fact, a small potato will likely have fewer carbs. REPLACE WITH: a few almonds or a piece of cheese. Or, if you must, a small potato.
Snack foods – you know those trail mixes and nuts and dried fruits that are at the till? Basically, almost all of those. They’re full of sugar and preservatives and they don’t keep us full for long at all. REPLACE WITH: biltong, cheese, or a piece of grilled chicken from the supermarket deli.
Soya or soy bean anything – unless this has been fermented (like a soya sauce), soy is actually an anti-nutrient. It actually sucks the nutrients out of your body. Well, not quite so savagely. But, they can inhibit your body’s ability to absorb necessary nutrients from other food.
Flavoured waters – water shmater, these are nothing more than fizzy coolies. Look at this article about how flavoured waters actually have more sugar than a Coke. And they taste terrible with a brandy.
Fruit and vegetable juices – unless you’re making yours yourself and using green, leafy vegetables, these are likely just loaded with sugary apples, carrots, and beetroot. While these are delicious and nutritious, they should only be consumed in very small quantities. In fact, one small apple per day provides all of the sugar you need for that day.

You don’t have to follow a strict diet to cut sugars and increase good fats and that, really, is the secret to wonderfully healthy bodies and minds.

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8 Comments

  1. 27th July 2017
    Reply

    I so agree with 99% of your entire list!! I am so glad margarine is no 1 on your post. I also think rice cakes taste like cardboard. I have never actually bought a packet of trail mix because I think they are wildly overpriced, but I am wondering if it would be better to make your own trail mix. Would the preservatives be any less? More nuts and seeds with less dried fruit. (And none of those huge dry pieces of coconut that I detest {when I actually like coconut in other forms}).

    The only thing I sort of disagree with is limiting yourself on how much HEALTHY (preferably homemade) muesli you should eat: The fact is that you actually would get full very quickly (my experience) and wouldn’t be able to eat much, but I don’t think there’s any problem in eating lots of good quality nuts and seeds. Unless I misunderstood you?

    • 27th July 2017
      Reply

      Thanks so much, Ashley. Your trail mix sounds good. Where can I order it 😉

      You’re right about the muesli, as long as you’re very careful about which nuts and their quantities, I guess. I’ve been Banting for just over two years, so I guess I’m more focussed on high fats to sustain me for longer. I used to be a real snacker and grazer, so I now ensure that I eat really good fats in larger quantities to avoid the snacking. I LOVE muesli (really, where is my tractor?), but it never kept me full for very long. An hour or two later, I was looking around for another snack. But, with the right oily seeds and a very limited amount of raw nuts (max two tablespoons), you’d definitely be doing a way better job than the standard shop brands. But, as I say, that’s from my Banting perspective. Obviously, a raw, sugar-free version in a larger quantity would still be loads better than the sugary store-bought ones.

      Thanks again for your input x

      • 27th July 2017
        Reply

        Okay, now I understand what you are saying regarding the nuts – from a banting point-of-view. I like to eat closer to the Paleo diet, than banting, but can’t say I eat 100% Paleo either. It’s kind of a mix, lol!

        Watch my blog, because I have actually been thinking of doing a muesli/trail-mix recipe post as a part of my litter-free lunchboxes series. Might give you some inspiration 😉

  2. 27th July 2017
    Reply

    I will drink all the beetroot and apple you will not stop me!!!! i make it myself and put a spinach leaf or 2
    okay not all cause #diabetes loving this post though, aidan eats corn cakes he loves them, are they as bad as rice cakes?

    • 27th July 2017
      Reply

      You nut. You know, the thing with this post was to debunk the myths that these are healthy options. I’m not saying I never have a flavoured water or some couscous. I’m just saying that I don’t have them because I’m under some kind of illusion that they’re healthy. I think that kids need a balanced diet (including a cupcake every now and then) and that, if he’s a fussy eater, let him eat the damn corn cakes! Especially if it’s not all he eats! He’s a vegetarian at 4 years old, for goodness’ sake. He can do no wrong in my eyes. All the better if you can sneak something healthy ONTO the corn cake, though (?)

    • 27th July 2017
      Reply

      It’s a struggle! I used to be super-strict, but it made me sad. So, now I occasionally have a piece of bread, if I really feel like it. And I’m alive to tell the tale 😉

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