Our relationships with different foods can remarkably resemble our relationships in life: they can be healthy, beneficial, and evolving; or burdensome, boring, and stuck in a rut — following patterns that just don’t serve our best interest. That’s when it’s time to break up with the unhealthy foods that are bringing us down. But what if we think our relationship with a specific food is healthy when, in fact, it’s really undermining our well being?
Fortunately, we don’t need a food therapist to figure out which foods are not all they’re cracked up to be. Here’s a simple list of eight foods to wave “bye bye” to.
8 Foods to Kick to the Curb…
1. Flavored Greek Yogurt
Greek yogurt has a lot of protein — in fact, it’s packed with it, which makes the dairy product a nutritious snack. But, when it comes flavored with additives like caramel, honey, and cookie crumbles the Greek loses its sleek. With each of those flavor boosters comes a huge surge in sugar, and, despite what your taste buds are telling you, that doesn’t make it an eligible “sweetie.”
Plain Greek yogurt, on the other hand, is a tried and true nutrient-filled staple; so if you can swap your flavored Greek for the plain variety, you won’t have to completely forgo that thick, creamy taste of heaven. Even so, if you can’t imagine your life without your Greek honey, just rearrange its place at your table, and enjoy it at the end of a meal. . . as dessert.
It may sound efficient to gulp down all your fruits and vegetables instead of eat them one by one, but juiced produce doesn’t provide the dietary fiber necessary to meet daily recommended levels. Fiber is an important part of the diet, as it can help with colon health and preventing heart disease. Similarly, juices don’t hold the normal amount of protein from their parent foods, which is essential to any diet.
A viable alternative is the smoothie, which maintains the natural contents of fruits and vegetables in the form of pulp. Of course, if you already have a balanced diet, then it’s great to enjoy an antioxidant-rich juice every once in a while, but make sure to not rely on them to replace your fruit and veggie intake.
3. Fiber-Rich Sugary Bars and Cookies
A fiber-rich food is indeed beneficial, but when it comes with so much sugar it instantly turns into more of a liability than an asset. The Fiber One brand, for example, offers an extensive buffet of streusel, bars, and cookies that are low in protein but, despite being marketed as “fiber-rich,” contain way too much sugar to be considered a healthful snack choice.
4. “Simple” Food Products with a Long List of Ingredients
Marketers are always on top of the trends, and they comprehend that consumers are making an effort to eat less-processed foods. As a result, the front-facing packing of many foods may contain the catchword, “simple,” in order to draw people in and incentivize them to purchase the beautifully-designed, cleverly-labeled products.
So, when a product dons claims of being “simple” turn over the package and glance at the length of its ingredient list. If the contents seem to go on and on, know that the product is really not as “simple” as the manufacturer is trying to appear.
5. “Natural” Food Products
Believe it or not, food manufacturing companies do not have to meet any type of standards in order to label their products as “natural.” The term is not FDA-approved, nor does it require an investigation or inspection by any panel (not even from the store it’s sold in) to be printed on packaging. Much like marketers trying to attract consumers who want a more healthful diet with the term “simple,” foods labeled as “natural” may in fact be anything but.
It’s helpful to closely examine the ingredients of products claiming to be natural in order to determine whether those foods align with the lifestyle choices you want to make.
6. Sports Drinks
Although the confident, strong-looking packing may make them come across as powerful and like a “sure thing,” sports drinks contain loads of sugar and artificial ingredients. Meant to taste sweet and flavorful while providing a quick burst of energy (mostly through a sugar surge), sports drinks lack many true health benefits. In the majority of cases, some good old-fashioned water will do the trick.
If you want a step up for some extra hydration, grab a coconut water to replenish fluids and increase electrolytes.
7. Foods Claiming to Benefit Your Glycemic Index
After witnessing the example of Dreamfields Pasta being embroiled in a class action law suit for claiming that their noodles would improve consumers’ glycemic index (GI), you’d think other companies would avert claiming to do the same at all costs. But, not so — a lot of food products still contain this label. Instead of seeking out GI-friendly products, simply combine nutrient-rich carbohydrates with protein and/or heart-healthy fat to naturally control your blood sugar without relying on companies claiming to do it for you.
8. Wheat (as Opposed to Whole Wheat)
Wheat breads and foods are generally not as fiber and protein-rich as whole wheat products because they’re made up of wheat flour instead of the whole grain. The “whole wheat” label indicates that the wheat hasn’t been refined, so it still contains healthful components such as endosperm and bran.
If you want the wheat you’re consuming to have nutritional benefits, then choose the whole wheat options, which consist of dietary fiber, B vitamins, iron, magnesium, and selenium — all nutrients that do a body good!
Breakups can be hard, but they don’t have to be. Just replacing your cravings with healthier alternatives can help you to seek out foods that are more in line with your desired lifestyle. You may even find new ones that are just as good as your old passions. . . or even better.
Allison Stowell, M.S., RD, CDN, is the registered dietitian for the Guiding Stars Licensing Company, a company devoted to helping you find the good, better and best choices at the supermarket. A working mom of two, Allison enables individuals to make positive, sustainable changes in their eating habits. Visit her blog to read more and connect with Allison on Twitter.