There is a lot of misleading information thrown around about what is healthy these days. It seems like what is healthy is debated- about as heatedly as building settlements in Jerusalem; we often find two highly polarized groups fighting each other vehemently from their own standpoint. It is incredibly difficult to decipher what is healthy and what is unhealthy, it is frustrating, and frankly, it makes you just want to throw up your hands in the air and give up, its like when you finally find something you like to eat, a study comes out that says you shouldn’t be eating it. Today’s article seeks to shed some light on the journey and I will show to the top 7 mistakes people make when trying to eat healthier.
- Buying “made with whole wheat” instead of 100% whole wheat.
This one is very common, and it’s super frustrating when you realize what happened to you and how you got duped. Hoping to capitalize on the health food movement, some companies that make bread have reverted to using deceptive labeling to make people think that they are getting healthy whole grains in their bread, but when you read the ingredients you might be surprised. Some bread packaging reads “made with whole grains” in the fine print, when you look at it you see whole grains and assume that whole grain are used exclusively in your bread, but you could potentially find in the ingredient list that whole wheat flour is #4, 5, 6, or 7 on the ingredients list! If you want to take advantage of the benefits of whole wheat and whole grains, always buy bread and grains that read 100% whole wheat or 100% whole grains on the packaging.
- Eating instant oats.
Most of us have heard about the benefits of oats: they can help lower cholesterol, they are high in fiber, and they give us sustained energy, but few people realize that instant oats are far different than rolled or steel cut oats. Instant oats have been highly processed, they are pre-cooked and often filled with a ton of sugars. Even if you buy unsweetened instant oats, they still affect your blood sugar about the same as a cup of sugar. Oats are great, but aim to buy whole grain rolled oats, or even better, steel cut oats for the maximum benefit.
- Eating granola or other muesli-like cereals.
Cereals like honey bunches of oats are marketed as a healthy breakfast food made with whole grains, and while you may get a serving of whole grains in a bowl, you also get an equivalent amount of sugar to help the grains go down. While these cereals may be slightly better that eating sugary cereals like fruity loops or frosted flakes, they aren’t too far ahead. Opt for fresh fruits, whole wheat pancakes, whole wheat bagels, or rolled/steel cut oats instead.
- Doing a “lowfat” diet.
To tell a long story in a short way, there was some research done in the 60s and 70s that was pretty awful, and through a stroke of luck, its creator made a lot of money off of getting it accepted as fact. The result was that the American government demonized dietary fat and embraced a high carbohydrate diet as a heart healthy choice for its citizens. Well almost 50 years later, our levels of heart disease, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure, are all higher than ever. I will let you do more research yourself if you are interested, but a low fat diet is not doing your health any favors, especially if that means eating twice as many carbs to replace your lost calories. Healthy fats in foods like: nuts, avocados, olive oil, coconut oil, fish, seeds, and dark chocolate are VERY good for you, so please, don’t trim all of the fat.
- Throwing out the egg yolks.
This is a touchy subject for me, because I get so tired of hearing people saying egg yolks are bad for you. It has gone back and forth for years, egg yolks are good for you, egg yolks aren’t good for you, but finally evidence is beginning to show that you SHOULD eat the yolks. Not only are the yolks the source of almost half the protein of the egg, the source of all of the egg’s vitamins and minerals, a source of healthy fats (including omega 3 fatty acids), but egg yolks do NOT raise your cholesterol levels. Dietary cholesterol intake has little to do with your blood levels of cholesterol in healthy adults, and even the Government is considering removing the daily limit on dietary cholesterol. Just eat the yolks people! Unless you are eating a dozen eggs per day, you don’t have anything to worry about.
- Using margarine instead of butter.
Margarine was born due to those terrible studies from the 60s and 70s I talked about earlier. Margarine is made using solidified fats, and it is often made with trans fats and hydrogenated oils which are VERY bad for you and closely linked with heart problems. We shouldn’t be eating a stick of butter every day, but if you want to put something on your whole wheat toast in the morning, try using a little butter instead of margarine.
- You drink fruit juice.
Fruit juice is often marketed as a healthy alternative to soft drinks, but fruit juice is still just condensed sugar. The fiber normally present in fresh fruit balances out the sugars present and has a minimal effect on your blood sugar levels, but drinking down a glass of juice with all of the fiber removed can be just as bad as drinking a can of cola. Many times, fruit juices are also made from condensed juices (which means they have been boiled down to a concentrate to remove water), and this means the juices have been cooked long enough to destroy any nutrition that may have been present in the juice as well. Just skip fruit juice, and if you want juice, stick with fresh greens and veggie juice instead.
These mistakes are all common and understandable, but now you have a little better idea of what to look out for when you are choosing your next grocery list. Follow these principles and avoid these traps to find a happy and healthier you. Have you ever made any of these mistakes? Comment below and let us know, or you can chime in on facebook or twitter and let us know what you mistakes you have made or see a lot of people make.