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  • Writer's pictureRobin Rhine McDonald

The top not so healthy "health" foods

Updated: Mar 3, 2020

When I was in undergrad, I had a three hour philosophy class in the afternoon. Every class I'd show up with a Naked juice and a bran muffin. I could always tell when it was almost time for our mid-class break because I'd be hungry and struggling to keep my eyes open.

If you're like I was, you might be thinking that I was a super healthy eater during this 3 hour class. The Naked juice was 100% juice, and it even has a pulpy consistency that made me think it was fresh pressed. My favorite was the mango flavor. Then, of course, the bran muffin. I thought I was doing my body such a favor - a whole grain, bran muffin. It's heart healthy, right? Would that paired with 100% fresh, organic pressed juice be a great snack for class?

Unfortunately, no. Between the juice and the muffin, I was downing over 50 grams of sugar and 100 grams of carbs without quality fats or protein to slow down the crazy roller coaster of a ride I sent my blood sugar. Of COURSE I was tired and hungry. Check out this list to make sure you aren't falling for these seemingly healthy foods too!

Acai bowls, smoothies, and juices

Unless you're making these foods at home, chances are, you are consuming a major sugar bomb! The base used for smoothies and acai bowls is usually apple juice, which in and of itself has about 24g of sugar, not to mention the fruit used, the granola, and the honey that usually accompanies these items.

If you want to enjoy these, sub unsweetened almond milk for the juice, hold the honey, add some protein or healthy fat, and skip the granola.

Rice cakes

These have become a very popular diet food because they are very low in calories and fat. You know what they're high on? The glycemic index. Eating these is like eating air that causes your body to suffer. You want a low calorie, low fat option to snack on? Eat some sliced veggies instead!

Protein & Granola bars

I used to think those Nature Valley or Quaker's Oat bars were great healthy additions to my day. Unfortunately, like many of the items on this list, they are sugar bombs from actual added sugar and then from the carbs they contribute. Many of them also have awful added ingredients as well.

If you're really a bar kind of person, I recommend trying these WholeBio bars. They have clean ingredients AND they provide both probiotics and prebiotics.

Fake meat

There is an awful rumor going around that eating Beyond Meat or Impossible burgers is a healthier option that real meat. This is NOT true. The number one ingredient in these is canola oil, one of the most inflammatory foods you can consume. If you're avoiding meat (which, if it's for health reasons is not necessary), don't replace it with franken foods that are causing more damage than you're trying to avoid.

Go for grass fed, pasture raised meats from quality sources!

Turkey burgers

I used to think that if something was chicken or turkey it was better than beef. Nope. It's still made with a processed wheat bun, poor quality cheese, and minimal nutritional value. If you like burgers, have a grass fed burger wrapped in lettuce and sub avocado for cheese!

Veggie chips

Sure, they're vegetables, but how much good are they when they've been covered in inflammatory oil or covered in excessive high sodium seasonings? Not much good at all. If you like chips, try making your own kale chips at home with avocado oil and sea salt. They're amazing!

Organic candy, donuts, etc

Just because something says "organic" doesn't mean it's healthy. Candy is candy. A donut is a donut.

Vegan products

Again, just because something is labeled "vegan" doesn't meant it's healthy. A vegan pizza is still pizza. Actually, that's arguable. I'd say it's worse because of the terrible processed ingredients used to make the fake meat and cheese toppings.

Flavored yogurt

Sugar bomb.

Go for unsweetened coconut yogurt or grass fed, unsweetened greek yogurt.

Diet anything

There is nothing spared with diet beverages or foods. They contain harmful artificial sugars that are causing just as much trouble to your body as their non-diet counterparts.

Sugar free

When you see sugar free, just think "chemical disaster". In order for something to be missing sugar and still taste like sugar, it is comprised of an unhealthy concoction.

Fat free

There are good fats and bad fats. If something is processed enough to be able to be fat free, it's to be avoided anyways. Low fat or non-fat basically means added sugar. The true fats to avoid are vegetable oils and trans fats. However, I do encourage the consumption of healthy fats like avocado oil, coconut oil, avocados, grass fed butter, and the fat from quality grass fed and pasture raised meats.

Gluten free

Gluten free is similar to the organic or vegan labels. Just because it's gluten free doesn't mean it's healthy. A lot of products that didn't have gluten to begin with are now adding the label "gluten free" in order to sound healthier, since now gluten free is somehow supposed to mean healthy. Naturally gluten free foods like meat, vegetables, fruit, nuts, and seeds are the best way to go.


They're bread. Little crunchy pieces of bread covered in unhealthy oil. I used to think they were healthy, but sadly, they are not.

100 Calorie packs

These are in the category of chemical disaster. They are also a poor indicator of health. The best question is not how many calories are in this, but rather, how much sugar and how many strange ingredients.

Spinach wraps

Just because it's green doesn't mean its healthy. It's still a flour tortilla.

Microwave popcorn

Don't do it! Avoid microwaving food as much as possible. I never use the microwave. It alters the chemical properties of your food and emits unhealthy levels of radiation. Not to mention, those microwave popcorn bags are packed with chemicals and unhealthy ingredients. Pop your own corn on the stove with coconut oil and salt. A much tastier and healthier option!

Trail mix

Last, but not least, and on a list of no particular order, is trail mix. Trail mix is usually packed with more chocolates and dried foods than healthy nuts and seeds. Your best bet is to make your own mix devoid of the candies and sugars that get thrown in.

There you have it! Was this list helpful? Was anything surprising? What else might you add to this list?

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