organic junk food cartoon

I thought this cartoon was so funny! 

Making healthy food choices can be confusing.  There are conflicting studies cited in the news, there are famous people giving advice, there are misleading marketing claims that seem reliable… With so much clutter it’s easy to make mistakes.  Here are 10 common mistakes that I often see people making:

Unhealthy Foods

  1. Agave Nectar.  Agave is not a healthy sweetener.  While it was believed to be a great, low glycemic sugar-replacement a few years back, we now know it is higher in fructose that high fructose corn syrup.  It’s a mess!  For recipes that call for agave (and there are a lot of ‘healthy’ recipes that use it, especially from a few years ago!), I use coconut nectar, raw honey or maple syrup instead.
  2. Canola Oil.  Similar to agave, canola was thought to be a good choice and a heart-healthy oil.  And of course it is still marketed that way!  Don’t be deceived, canola is a highly-processed, unhealthy oil that is usually genetically modified.  Like all ‘vegetable’ oils, just stay away.  Use olive or coconut oil instead.
  3. 100-calorie Snack Packs.  100 calories of cookies or crackers is just not a good idea.  You’re still eating refined flour, sugar and chemical ingredients you can’t pronounce.  You’ll be starving after you eat it.  Your weight is not as simple as a calories in/calories out equation.  It is so much more complicated.  Eat a real food snack instead.
  4. Veggie Straws.  Another trap.  I know, Veggie is in the name!  Sorry, it’s a chip (even if there is spinach in it!). Homemade organic popcorn with some sea salt would be a better bet for your crunchy/salty craving (or homemade kale chips!).
  5. Organic Fruit Snacks.  Or organic cookies or organic crackers or organic chips.  It’s still junk food, just organic junk food!  You will avoid hydrogenated oils and artificial colors and flavors, so that’s a bonus, but you won’t get slimmer eating organic cookies.  (Same goes for gluten-free, by the way!)  Have organic snacks once in a great while if you want to, but just be honest with yourself, you’re eating refined sugar.
  6. Protein Bars.  I know, protein is all the rage.  But check out the ingredients on those things!  Can your body process that ingredient you can’t pronounce?  How much processed soy is in your bar?  How about sugar?  Bad news.  Think of them as candy bars with better marketing.
  7. Fat-free Yogurt.  I hope no one is eating this anymore.  I used to!  I used to down those Yoplait cups every single day.  Yikes.  No wonder I always had a stomachache. Fat-free means more sugar.  Fat-free, sugar-free means artificial sweeteners.  Sugar is the leading cause of inflammation (and therefore disease).  Better to go with regular organic yogurt (plain if you can) and less of it.
  8. Roasted, Salted Nuts.  Almonds are a good snack for many of us.  Raw almonds.  Bonus if you soak them.  You can even dry roast them yourself in the oven (or add a touch of olive oil and sea salt). But as soon as you go for the roasted, salted version off the shelf, all bets are off.  I KNOW they are delicious! But they are roasted in unhealthy vegetable oils and way over-salted. 
  9. Flavored, calorie-free drinks.  There are some waters that are great!  Brands like La Croix and Mendota Springs.  However, many brands, like Vitamin Water, are full of artificial sweeteners.  Make sure to read your labels and know what you’re drinking.  Beware of all those mix-ins too, from the powdery packets to the liquid drops.  Most of them are full of chemicals!
  10. Too much fruit.  Fruit is a healthy choice, yes.  An apple with almond butter makes a great snack.  I love berries in my smoothie.  But if you are snacking on fruit all day long, you are likely eating too much sugar.  Stick to a couple pieces of fruit per day and concentrate on vegetables, especially if you are trying to lose weight.

There are so many traps out there!  I hope these 10 tips are helpful.  What questions do you have?  Let me know in the comments!