Healthy Living

Check the Label: 12 Foods You Think are Healthy… That Aren’t

We love the health craze that is going around right now. Many people are trying to ditch unhealthy foods for healthier alternatives. But what if I told you that a lot of these products that are disguised as “healthy” really aren’t that good for you at all?

These seemingly healthy foods, are really just loaded with sugar, sodium, and other additives that don’t provide you any health benefits at all. Also products that are labeled as fat-free, whole wheat, or gluten-free trick you to think that you are making a healthy choice, when in all reality…. You aren’t.

Read on to see which 12 foods are imposters that you really should try to avoid, and what you should eat instead.

12 Foods that Aren’t Actually Healthy

1. Wheat Bread

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Wheat bread can often be deceiving. If something says “wheat” on the packaging, most likely we are going to think that it is healthier than its counterpart- white bread. But here is the thing, you can add wheat to any carbohydrate and label it as a wheat product. If bread isn’t labeled as 100% whole wheat, it can contain enriched flour which is going to be used in your body as a starch and will cause a sugar high.

What to do: When buying bread, make sure the package says that it is 100% whole wheat. Sprouted wheat and multigrain breads can also be good as long as that is the first or second ingredient on the list.

2. Store Bought Salad Dressings

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Next time you are at the store, look at the ingredient list of a light salad dressing. This “light dressing” is often filled with preservatives, sugar, sodium, flavor enhancers, thickeners, and other additives. As a rule of thumb you should choose an oil-based dressing over a creamy dressing. But even these oil-based dressings that you find at the store aren’t necessarily healthy.

What to do: Instead of buying a dressing at the store, simply whip up your own. It will only take a few minutes and won’t contain all of the preservatives and additives that are in a store bought dressing.

3. Gluten-Free Snacks

Oftentimes we assume that if something is “gluten-free” it is good for you. Brands are putting the famous “gluten-free” seal on their products because they know it attracts customers. Many companies are trying to capitalize on the gluten-free trend that is going on right now. Don’t fall into this trap!

While some gluten-free foods really are healthy, don’t think that just because something is labeled as gluten-free means that it is good for you. Manufacturers will use less nutrient-dense foods to replace the gluten in carbohydrate-rich foods. This means that you can be spending more for a less healthy product.

What to do: Look to foods that are naturally gluten-free: fruits, vegetables, legumes. And always check the label before purchasing these gluten-free items. For those with celiac disease, going gluten-free is totally necessary, but for others this isn’t a necessity to go gluten-free. So turn to whole grains, oats, and other healthy alternatives instead.

4. Instant Oatmeal

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Oatmeal is usually a great whole-grain breakfast that has a good nutritional composition: however you should think twice before grabbing instant oatmeal from the cereal aisle at your grocery store. Flavored, single-serving packets contain a lot of added sugar which means unnecessary calories.

What to do: Try buying the large tubs of instant oats, old-fashioned oatmeal or steel cut oats instead. From there you can add your desired fruits and spices.

Tip- We recommend using steel cut oats as there are more benefits associated with those: long lasting energy, lower your risk of heart disease, and they promote weight loss. Then try making overnight oats with them (We love this recipe).

5. Some Nut Butters

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Don’t get me wrong, nut butters are generally good and can contain important nutrients as long as you consume them in moderation. But you should be careful about which nut butter you decide to purchase. Many of them contain added sugar and are too calorie-dense.

What to do: Look for a nut butter that only has one or two ingredients in it: nuts, or nuts and salt. Anything more than that is unnecessary and isn’t helping you out any.

6. Packaged Turkey

I know that most of us have probably eaten more turkey sandwiches than we can count in our lifetimes. They are easy to make and taste pretty dang good. Eating the leftover turkey from thanksgiving on a sandwich? Good. Eating the packaged, processed turkey from the grocery store on a sandwich? Not so good.

Packaged turkey is high in nitrates and sodium, which can be really hard on your heart.

What to do: If you are going to buy packaged turkey, look for a low sodium variety. Or opt instead for fresh turkey slices (we think they also taste a lot better).

7. Dried Fruit

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While dried fruit does contain vitamins, minerals, and fiber, many companies add extra sugar and sulfur dioxide to the dried fruit to preserve it longer. Making it more similar to candy than fruit.

What to do: When purchasing dried fruit, make sure that it is unsweetened. Or choose a better alternative- fresh fruit!

8. Fat-Free Labeled Foods

This one may get a lot of us! We see “fat-free” on a label and immediately put it into our carts because the idea that something is free of fat appeals to the large majority of us! Don’t let that fool you. A lot of times when something is labeled fat-free it will contain the same amount of calories per serving and add a lot of sugar and fillers in the products instead.

What to do: Check the label first. Fat-free isn’t always bad, just make sure it isn’t filled with a ton of calories and sugar, to replace the fat. But if you are going to choose a flavored yogurt, make sure it is a low calorie greek yogurt with less sugar.

9. “Healthy” Cereal

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Grabbing a bowl of cereal in the morning (or in the evening) is usually one of the easiest options for a quick bite to eat. I mean how many times did you ask your mom what you can eat and she told you just to go grab a bowl of cereal (or is that just me?). But many cereals aren’t really nutritious at all (even talkin to you “healthy” cereals out there).

Often these healthy cereals contain just as much sugar as their unhealthy counterparts. Many synthetic ingredients are used to fortify the cereal, and many of the original vitamins and minerals are destroyed during the cereal-making process.

What to do: Look for cereals that have six grams of sugar or less in them, with short ingredient lists.

10. Fruit Juices

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Even if a juice package says that it “contains real fruit juice” it doesn’t mean that it is good for you. Juices are often loaded with a lot of sugar and don’t contain any real nutritional value. Even be careful of 100% fruit juice. Fruit has healthy fiber, vitamins and nutrients in its whole form that is lost as juice. So the benefits associated with fruit tend to disappear in juice form.

What to do: Stick to water and other beverages that are good for you like unsweetened tea or IdealBoost weight loss drink. You can also make smoothies with water, almond milk, coconut milk, or another alternative of this variety if you are wanting a sweet, fruity beverage.

11. Flavored Yogurt

Really check the label before putting flavored yogurt into your cart. Many of these little 6 ounce servings can have up to 15 grams of sugar in them.

What to do: Buy no-sugar-added plain Greek yogurt instead, and from there you can add any topping of your liking. Fresh fruit, honey and even a little protein powder are some of our fav toppings over here.

12. Frozen Dinners

Frozen dinners can be nice because all you have to do is put your meal in the microwave for a few minutes, and viola, you have a full meal ready to eat. I know that I lived off of a lot of these in college, along with Top Ramen. The problem? They are often loaded with sodium! And while some of these frozen meals may be low in calories, they are generally also low in nutrients.

What to do: If you are going to eat a frozen dinner make sure that it is low in sodium and look for the ones that contain extra vegetables and whole grains. Wanting another alternative? Try meal prepping. If you prep your meals at the beginning of the week, you won’t feel as rushed and reach for pre-packaged meals or fast foods.

Wrap it Up

You may not be able to rely on some of your go-tos anymore to provide your body the nutritional benefits you thought that you were getting… but do you know what you can still trust? IdealShape products.

IdealShape products work with you and your goals, they don’t sabotage them. They will make living a healthier life and reaching your health and fitness goals more doable, and even more enjoyable.

If you do find yourself grazing and snacking often between meals, and your go-to is a sugary cereal, instant meals, or flavored yogurt, you will find that adding a hunger-blocking meal replacement shake to your daily ritual will be very beneficial to you. IdealShake meal replacement shake combines a hunger-blocker (Slendesta®), fiber, and protein to help you feel full for up to three hours.

Because it’s low calorie and high in flavor you’ll be able to cut calories and lose weight deliciously. Replace one to two meals a day with this delicious meal replacement shake to see real weight loss results. So many healthy foods are frauds and yet they’re so expensive! IdealShake is not only delicious and effective, it’s affordable. At less than $2 a serving IdealShake won’t clean out your bank account!

Leave those fraud foods behind and get a meal replacement shake that will actually help you lose the weight for good.

IdealShape products work with you and your goals, they don’t sabotage them. They will make living a healthier life and reaching your health and fitness goals more doable, and even more enjoyable.



Caitlin Peterson

Caitlin Peterson

Writer and expert


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