10 Foods You THINK are Healthy (But are REALLY Killing You!)
Once upon a time, long, long ago, I was a young mother of three little boys and one little girl. And they LOVED sweets, as all kids do. Being a concerned and caring young mom, I tried to do the right thing, and feed them healthy foods! Foods that would nourish their bodies and ensure their good health! I read the labels and looked for foods that seemed like healthy choices. I wanted strong, healthy, athletic, smart kids!
Like most young parents, I did as well as I could, knowing what I knew back then. I made carrot salad with raisins, rice cereal with cinnamon and real milk, and fed them lots of meat! I tried to limit sugar, too much fat, and anything with chemicals. Little did I know about gluten, though! As most young parents, I did my best with what I knew.
And back in those good old days, I didn't even have to worry (as much as now) about overly processed and plastic chemical foods that have become the current norm! Food was a little more natural back then---like, actual FOOD.
These days, the American Food Industry is absolutely heinous. Nowadays, we have chemicals in our processed foods that are known hormone disruptors, cancer causers, liver and kidney toxins, and linked to diseases and disorders like Alzheimers and MORE. I think it was easier to feed kids healthy foods back in the 80's. Just saying.
Have you ever wondered why obesity has become such a huge problem? Or why young men often have "man-boobs" and low T problems? And why little girls are developing earlier and earlier? (I was a school teacher in my previous life, and there have been huge changes in children's physical bodies in just the last decade alone!)
If you are even remotely concerned about what you are putting in your body, and especially the little bodies of your children, read on to find out about these ten foods that many folks mistakenly assume are safe and even good for you!
Here are 10 foods that SO many people THINK are healthy, but that are absolutely HORRIBLE for you, and especially for your growing children. Some of these may just surprise you!
FTC Disclosure: There are affiliate links scattered throughout this article. If you click through and make any kind of purchase, I may receive a very small commission at no extra cost to you. Thank you--Heidi (Full disclosure here)
Foods You THINK are Healthy....BUT are the DEVIL in Disguise
1) Smoothies & Juices
Smoothies are a real fad right now! But all too often, we add sugary juices or even sugars themselves (honey, agave, maple syrup, etc.) in a misguided attempt to make the smoothie "sweet and delicious." These are the ones we make for ourselves! But when you take a GOOD look at commercially prepared smoothies, you'll find incredibly high levels of sugars and chemicals. These cause inflammation throughout our bodies, and inevitably, our bodies lose the good fight with years of abuse.
Sugar is one of the most inflammatory substances you can put in your body, and it doesn't matter if it's "real" like honey or man-made---like (surprise!) agave syrup which is processed to within an inch of its life. There are also hidden sugars in the chemical names in these substances: dextrose, galactose, and of course, the infamous high fructose corn syrup. HFCS is probably one of the worst, and doesn't it sound like it just MUST be fine? After all, it's made from corn! NO! Trust me, it will screw up your body royally. I recommend your doing more research on these chemical sugars!
If you are going to buy smoothies and juices, check the Ingredients label. It should ONLY list vegetable and fruit juices. Cold-pressed is best. Yes, I know. These are more expensive. But that's the price there is to pay these days. Cheap sugars just don't cost as much as the REAL thing. Remember that.
2) Vitamin Waters and Sports Drinks
My boys played year-round sports while they were growing up, and I am guilty of having cases of these nasty sports drinks in my house (and so did every other parent I knew back then---and now, too!).
It's true that many of these drinks contain electrolytes, which can help rebalance the salts in your body after extreme exercise, however, they also contain loads of chemical sugars and other undefinable things. I like this recipe from fivehearthome.com if you want to make your own. It's adjustable, too! Otherwise, perhaps try water kefir flavored with fruit! Or kombucha! Filled with gut-healthy organisms, kombucha is truly a wonder drink.
Personally, though, I think the BEST way to rehydrate yourself and your kids after exercise is just good, plain water. Mix it with a little REAL juice, and you're good to go!
Oh, yogurt!! I love yogurt...but I have finally grown to love the REAL yogurt. You know, plain, whole fat yogurt that only has about two ingredients (milk or cream and live yogurt cultures--that's it).
Unfortunately, the grocery shelves are jam-packed with high sugar and chemical-laden options any more, and many of them are geared to entice children to beg for them. Fruit on the bottom, fancy flavors....well, these little cups of chemicals contain preservatives, gums, dyes, and worst of all: LOADS of sugar! Please don't buy these!
What you can do instead is buy the two-ingredient yogurt mentioned above (or better yet, make your own) and add REAL fruit to it! Guess what? It's healthier and will cost less too!
4) Instant Oatmeal (or Instant Anything, for That Matter)
Instant foods are packages of fillers, chemicals and sugars. And I'll use instant oatmeal as an example, because on the surface, it seems relatively healthy, right? After all, it's oatmeal!
Instant oatmeal has been stripped of its good fiber and is a big, processed mess. The glycemic index number for steel cut oats is around 45, rolled oats is around 55, and...get this...for instant oatmeal it's around 85.
On a scale from 0-100, that's really high. The glycemic index number tells you basically how quickly the food will be processed in your body into sugar, and of course the higher that is, the higher your blood sugar will be after eating it.
After that, the harder our bodies have to work to offset the sugar burst with insulin. Our bodies are just not meant to have the radical sugar swings high-glycemic foods cause. These popular commercially processed high glycemic foods are in main part to blame for the Type II diabetes crisis our country now finds itself dealing with.
What you can do instead: Make steel cut or rolled oats and add high fiber REAL fruit pieces! Adding real fruit will also cut back on the amount of sweetener you feel you have to add. Best of all---just don't add any and eat it plain.
5) Anything That Says "Fat-Free"
Fats are actually good for you, to a large extent, and especially if they are healthy fats such as olive oil, coconut oil, and even butter and lard if it's grass-fed! Fat is what gives foods its flavor!
So when these food manufacturers remove the fat, they are left with a big flavorless mess. What do they do to make up for this, you wonder? They add loads of sugars and chemical flavorings to the process to create a "taste" that people not only crave, but become addicted to.
You know what? If a package has more than about two or three ingredients and any ingredient that I can't immediately identify as being healthy, then I don't buy it. Period. And if there is anything "hydrogenated" in it---leave it.
6) Packaged Meat
Can you say, "Nitrates?"
I KNOW you've heard of them! Nitrates are linked to cancers, interfering with circulation, leukemia, and brain tumors. Sodium nitrate is especially bad for you, and may even be involved in a sickness called listeriosis. Just. Stay. Away.
What you can do instead, if you need "instant meat": Roast or grill your own, then save enough for two or three days! You can also buy organic, or look for "nitrate-free" deli meats. They are out there!
Are they more expensive? Yes. But medical doctors and health care visits and prescription pills are even more expensive than that. Honestly, the least expensive route is to just grill or roast your own a few days ahead! It's tastier, cheaper, and healthier.
7) Dried Fruits
Sugar, people. Sugar. That's the first problem with dried fruits you'll find in the stores. Commercially dried fruits are filled with added sugars!
The other problem with commercially dried fruits is the chemicals used to preserve them. It's no wonder allergies and asthma symptoms are on the rise in children! The chemicals used to preserve many foods contribute to these issues, including sulfur dioxide, found in many dried fruits and other items kids love.
You know what? The best thing you can do is dry your own! Here's an article about how to dry apple slices in your oven or in a dehydrator, and they are delicious too! I've done this! You can substitute other fruits as well. And here is how to make your own fruit roll ups! Easy!
8) Breads, Including English Muffins, Bagels, Pastas, and Even Any "Whole Wheat" Bread
Like instant oatmeal, most breads are VERY high on the glycemic index. Sugars are also often added, and the flour used is processed to within an inch of its life. I'm no longer a fan of wheat of ANY kind, after I read Wheat Belly , because it's pretty devastating to your system due to the fact that, besides being high on the glycemic scale, most wheat is GMO these days. You can also check out Grain Brain for more bad news about grains and wheat.
If you MUST use breads, and I do understand that sandwiches are super easy to make, especially if you have kids---try to find non-GMO whole grain bread or better yet, sprouted bread. Sprouted bread (found in the refrigerated section) is excellent because the live plant is used instead of processed flour.
***I have found an excellent exception to unhealthy wheat/soy based pastas! They are Cybele's Free to Eat Rotinis. They are FREE from the top 8 allergens---because they are ONLY make with vegetables. They come in different flavors too. That's it. Pretty incredible for a pre-packaged food! My favorite is the Superfood Green Rotini (Green lentil, kale, broccoli, & spinach). I hope you check out this brand---it sure beats regular pasta.
9) Canned Soups (and Other Canned Goods)
There are two problems with canned soups: 1) Sodium; and 2) BPA's.
First off, sodium is a killer. It's bad for your heart, creates a system of water retention in your body, and is a factor in heart disease, including high blood pressure. The problem with the sodium in canned soups is that there is SO much of it! Some cans of soup have enough sodium to meet your entire daily allowance!
The other problem is in the cans themselves. Most contain BPA's. Lots of attention has been given to BPA's these days, and that's because they are found to be at the root of a huge host of health problems, such as low testosterone in men, infant health problems, estrogen imbalances in women, cellular repair issues, and fertility problems.
Man boobs, anyone? Little girls in early elementary school entering puberty? Erectile dysfunction? General hormonal imbalance and fertility issues in both women and men? These chemicals build up in our human bodies over time and cause grave problems.
In fact, while we are on the subject of BPA's---please stop using bottled water! The United States has taken minimal efforts in regulating the plastics used in foods and water containers, and water bottles are among the worst. Drink from BPA-free bottles! Buy a great water bottle made with safe substances and REUSE!
Back to Canned Soups: People who consumed canned soup for several days had over 1,000% MORE BPA in their urine samples than those who did not consume canned soup in that time period. Just thought you'd like to know.
If you are going to eat canned foods, beware! And be aware!
What you can do instead? Make your own healthy soup and either preserve it by canning it yourself in glass Mason jars. OR, if you are not into that, make enough for a few days and store it in the fridge. Homemade soups also freeze very well!
Another option is to purchase preserved goods in glass jars. It's better for the environment, too, as the glass is biodegradable.
10) Egg Whites
You know, God made things perfectly in our world. He really did not intend for people to go messing up his creations. Did you know that most of the nutrition in an egg is found in the yolk? And that by eating both the yolk and the white together, there is a perfect mix of nutrition? And that when eating both together, there is a huge amount of evidence now that shows that cholesterol is not an issue?
I personally eat an average of about 5 eggs a day because I raise my own chickens. They free range, which means they are NOT cooped up. They have access to natural foraging habits and are wonderful in keeping insect populations under control.
I recommend, if you can, to keep three or four chickens, even if they are contained in a coop! They are fun too! If you can't do this (or just don't want to), please buy "pastured" eggs because this ensures that the chickens had at least some time on a little patch of outside.
P.S. My cholesterol is just fine! In fact, my good cholesterol is on the high side---which is great!
Final Thoughts About Trying to Eat Healthy in an Unhealthy World of Processed Foods
You know, I hate to be a kill joy, and I know my friends are sick of my food lectures. But when you know what you know, you really are responsible for spreading the word! Especially if you are raising children, you OWE it to them to find the best and most nutritious foods you can.
If you want more ideas about foods, especially fermented foods that contain HUGE amounts of healthy probiotics, you might want to check these articles you may be interested in to get you started: How to ferment baby zucchini, how to make fermented Russian tomatoes, and there are lots more!
Also, watch food documentaries, if you are interested in learning more about the Standard American Diet (S.A.D.) and the horrors it is perpetrating on the American people!
Books such as In Defense of Food, by Michael Pollan, or Folks, This Ain't Normal, by Joel Salatin are also good places to start. There are also many more books available too, and many of them are now on Audible.
And if you want a great book with tons of interesting information and traditional food recipes, please take a look at my favorite: Nourishing Traditions. You won't be disappointed if you are in search of a healthy life.
That's all I have on this topic, although I could just go on and on and on. Please, I implore you to start reading labels, and try to stop purchasing those processed foods. My rule of thumb is if I do not know what that strange sounding ingredient is, it doesn't go in my bod.
It's often easier and almost always less expensive to make it yourself too, once you just get in the habit! Remember: You are in control of your life!
What do you think of these foods? Were any a surprise to you? Leave comments, and I'll reply! If you have questions about making your own, please ask!
Also, if you are interested in some healthy, traditional foods, check out these articles on how to make fermented raw foods for gut health: Ferment Those Baby Zucchini, How to Ferment Eggplant, Fermented Russian Tomatoes,..and there are many more!
Hugs, Self-Reliance, and Health,
P.S. I didn't even mention processed, prepackaged snack foods---because, well, DUH. ;-) But...more companies are coming out with healthy options. I'll tried to keep adding good options to this article as I find them because it dawned on me it's not really fair to tell you about all the awfulness without also providing more healthy ideas.
Here is a crunchy, packaged snack your kids will love---and it's actually got good ingredients: Chomperz and Seaweed Snacks by SeaSnax. They sent me some to try, and YES, they are tasty and healthy too. SeaSnax also has a LOT of flavor and preparation options.
P.P.S. I hope you'll sign up for our newsletter and never miss a thing! When you do, I'll be sending you a free gift! It's my eBook on How to Use Herbs to Relax, and help you deal with stress and anxiety. It's a terrifically helpful book with lots of great ideas!
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