A story from Yahoo has been making the rounds, it’s called 8 Alarmingly Unhealthy Snacks for Kids. A few things on the list, like yogurt and apple sauce, likely do surprise people but was anyone surprised that Aunt Annie’s pretzels aren’t healthy? After reading this list I thought I would make a list that is a little more likely to surprise you.
- Granola Bars: Granola bars, while better than candy bars, still contain little in the way of nutritional value.
Alternatives: Make your own, skip the refined sugars and use something like honey or sucanat. Also add whole grains, nuts, coconut, fruit and other healthy ingredients. If you use chocolate go with a dark chocolate which has less sugar.
- Cereal: Some cereals aren’t bad and contain pretty good ingredients and very little sugar but most are high in sugar and low in nutrition. Cereal marketed to kids are the worst offenders. With the amount of sugar in these cereals, you might as well serve they a candy bar for breakfast.
Alternatives: Homemade oatmeal with fruit and unrefined sweeteners is a great alternative to boxed cereal. Homemade pancakes (which can be made ahead and frozen) with a little bit of fresh fruit and a touch of honey or real maple syrup can also be a nice treat and very healthy. For a quick breakfast green smoothies are a great option, ingredients can be prepared the night before to make it a very easy breakfast.
- Meal Replacers/Diet Shakes: Seems like everyone is selling some shake diet these days. And while you will likely lose weight on these diets, skinny doesn’t always mean healthy. It’s also not a sustainable way to eat. They contain a lot of refined sugar, corn, soy, and other highly processed ingredients. Many places even add pudding and Jello mixes to make the drinks taste better and those contain lots of sugar, dyes, and other nasty things.
Alternatives: If you really want a protein shake go for a raw protein that is soy free, like Garden of Eden’s Raw Protein. Green smoothies are a really good alternative, if you want some added protein throw in some nuts, nut butter, or hemp powder. Eating well rounded, healthy, real food, meals will help you get healthy and lose some extra pounds.
- Fast Food Smoothies: A new trend is smoothies at fast food restaurants. They claim to have real fruit and that may be true but they also contain a huge number of calories, lots of sugar and not a lot of nutrition.
Alternatives: This is pretty simple, real smoothies. Better yet, green smoothies.
- Turkey Bacon: Many believe turkey bacon is a better choice over pork bacon but the truth is it’s not that much different and likely still has nitrates which have been linked to cancer.
Alternatives: Eat cured meats in moderation and when you do eat them be sure they are “nitrate-free.” Applegate Farms is a good brand.
- Juice: Even if you make sure to buy 100% juice, you are getting all the sugar from the fruit and very little of the fiber. Fruit is great for you but the fiber is the healthiest part and with juice you are missing out on most of that. In moderation juice can be okay but it’s not the health drink many believe it is.
Alternatives: Once again smoothies are the better choice. Smoothies use whole pieces of fruit so the fiber is included. You can also make green smoothies which have raw vegetables making it even better for you.
- Diet Soda: Most of you reading my blog likely already know this one but just in case I will add it. Diet soda may have no sugar but the replace is no better, in some cases it’s worse. Fake sweeteners have been linked to all kinds of health problems, even cancer.
Alternatives: If you really want a soda opt for a soda made with cane sugar in a glass bottle or make your own. And remember to limit all soda as it does contain a lot of sugar and is not good for you in anyway. Try different teas made at home so you can control the level of sugar. If you need it pretty sweet at first you can still likely slowly use less and less without noticing a real difference. Tea is great hot or cold, experiment and find your favorite. Honey and sucanat are two of the best sweeteners to use for tea but if those won’t work for you be sure to use organic cane sugar.
- Low-Fat Dairy: Low-fat diets have been the fad for awhile and it’s hard to find yogurt and such that isn’t low-fat. So why is full fat better? Lots of reasons, some include the fact that without the fat we don’t absorb the calcium as well, more sugar is almost always included in low-fat dairy verse full-fat (this is true of all food), and many studies are now showing that there are a lot of benefits to using full-fat dairy verse low-fat.
Alternative: Use full-fat dairy in moderation.
- Fake Meat: While vegetarian diets can be healthy and limited meat is good for the environment, replacing the meat with processed fake meat is not so healthy. Most are made from highly processed soy which has endless problems from being genetically modified to being linked to breast cancer.
Alternative: Make homemade, soy-free versions, like black bean burgers. Also look for recipes that don’t require meat in the first place. For protein go with beans, nuts, and other real foods.
So which of these things surprised you? Will you stop eating any of these items and try the alternatives? Also be sure to share your alternatives and surprisingly unhealthy foods. Post in the comments below or join the conversation on Facebook.