The Top 5 "Healthy" Foods to Avoid + Real Food Swaps

Top 5 "Healthy" Foods to AvoidThe more I learn about our food industry, the more I wonder where else I’ve been completely brainwashed and utterly mislead in my life. Our ideas of what makes up a healthy diet and even how much we should be eating each day come to us from government recommendations that have had little to no research behind them with plenty of industry financial backings. Shocking? I know. In high school I was the diet queen. I did everything I heard on the news or read in health magazines. I restricted fat and counted calories. I increased my whole grain consumption and diligently watched my cholesterol intake.

And I was only in high school. 

The funny {and very sad} part is that I was a smidge overweight, had all kinds of digestive issues and never really felt well.

I know I'm not the only one to feel this way. Countless individuals do their best to eat “healthy” by our country’s standards, yet live their lives feeling tired, depressed, bloated and cart around unwanted, excess weight.

Can you relate?

Are the “healthy” foods we have been told to eat {and in abundance} actually making us sick? Let’s explore the top 5 “healthy” foods that may be causing more harm than good {plus a “real food swap” to help you truly feel energized and live well!}.

Top 5 "Healthy" Foods to Avoid {+real food swaps}

  • Fat-free or reduced-fat food items. Dressings, chips, candy, and dairy products are some of the top offenders. When the fat is removed from the product, it is typically replaced with some sort of sugar source to adjust flavor and nutrient content. Not only are these highly processed “Frankenfoods”, but also chalk full of added sugars and chemical additives. 
    • Real food swap: Although demonized for decades, fat is actually good for you and necessary for optimal health. Choose healthy fats from grass-fed animals {think butter, duck fat, beef, etc.}, pastured or organic, free-range eggs, coconut and olive oil, avocado, nuts and seeds. Avoid partially- and fully hydrogenated oils and processed vegetable oils from corn, soy and rapeseed. Here is a great article in Time magazine. 
  • Energy bars. Most energy bars on the market are packed full of sugar, GMO soy, synthetic vitamins, processed fats, and artificial colors, preservatives, sweeteners and more! Most people think of energy bars as the perfect fuel for a busy lifestyle. The reality is that they add to our toxic load, energy cashes {think blood sugar roller-coaster} and inflammation.
    • Real food swap: Combine a vegetable or low glycemic fruit {think berries, nectarine, etc.} with a clean protein and/or fat source which will help give you stable, lasting energy and avoid a blood sugar bust. Choose ½ cup organic blueberries and a small handful of raw almonds, an ounce of raw cheese wrapped in organic turkey or ham, or half an avocado with sea salt and a cup of carrots. If you are traveling or in need of something nonperishable, try an Epic bar, Larabar or Raw Crunch bar {Alo Wellness approved brands!}.
  • Multigrain and whole-wheat products. From insulin resistance and gut disorders to obesity and heart disease, wheat products are being linked to a whole host of health issues. If you have not already removed wheat from your diet, I would strongly advice that you consider phasing it out ASAP. Those with a gluten allergy/sensitivity need also be aware of cross-reactivity with gluten-free grains that the body may view as a similar threat.
    • Real food swap: Play with grain-free flours like coconut, almond or hazelnut flour. You can make muffins, bread, tortillas, cookies, cakes and so many more delicious items that are packed full of healthy fats and protein. If these flours intimidate you or you’re dealing with a nut allergy, go back to real food basics: use eggplant cut horizontally as a base for pizza, butter lettuce cups as taco shells and grated cauliflower for a low-carb rice or quinoa alternative.
  • Fruit smoothies and juice. Get this, Jamba Juice’s small Apple ‘N Greens smoothie packs in 60g of total carbs and 45g of sugar and the large contains 100g of carbs and 78g of sugar! That is about what we should be getting in a day, depending on your body and health goals. Smoothies and juices can have some beneficial properties, but the amount of carbs and sugar outweigh their vitamins and mineral content in my humble opinion.
    • Real food swap: Try juicing colorful veggies with half a green apple or lemon and add a teaspoon to tablespoon of melted coconut oil to help balance blood sugar. When making smoothies, use berries for sweetness and always make sure to add good quality fat. Check out my smoothie tips here.
  • Soy. Oh, where to begin? Soy’s popularity has heavy backing by the multi-billion dollar soy industry. Most of the soy in our country is genetically modified, contains anti-nutrients that inhibit digestion of certain minerals and protein and can even irritate the GI tract. You can learn more here and here.
    • Real food swap: If you’re a vegetarian, use sustainably raised animal proteins like pastured eggs, raw milk and cheese and wild fish to add protein and healthy fats to your diet. Choose unprocessed whole foods for meals and snacks and read food labels to avoid soy protein and other soy products. There is soy in more than you'd think. Reading food labels is the best way to avoid it. 

Did I just turn your health knowledge upside down and inside out? Good. That's my job.

May your tummies be filled with nourishing foods and your hearts filled with love.

Shine Bright!

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