We all go through it around this time of year. We resolve to make a change. To eat healthier. Ditch the old bad foods. And adopt the new habits and diet that will have us slim, trim, and feeling fine by spring.
If it hasn’t worked out for you before, don’t feel bad. In fact, I’ll let you in on a little secret. It doesn’t work for ANYONE, really. And that’s because the deck is stacked against us.
It turns out many of the foods we turn to thinking they’re better for us, and healthier choices, are in fact, just as bad as the junk we just swore off of.
And with all the fake diet food crowding the grocery store shelves, it’s really no wonder none of us get anywhere.
Take diet cola, for example. It’s made with chemical sweeteners that are just as bad for you as sugar… and some are worse. Healthy-sounding salad dressings are often LOADED with sugar.
And just about any packaged food that screams “LOW-FAT!” is usually hiding some pretty ugly ingredients.
“Healthier” food fakers to avoid
If you’re vowing to eat healthier next year, don’t let me stop you. I think that’s a fantastic goal. Just make sure you’re actually making healthier choices when you do.
Because unfortunately, some of the most popular foods folks choose to start eating when they resolve to clean up their diet are actually just junk food fakers in disguise. Following are four of the worst offenders.
1. VEGGIE BURGERS:
Think manufactured veggie burgers are always better for you than beef? Think again.
Many of these so-called burgers are basically lab-created monstrosities. They’re packed with chemicals, coloring agents, preservatives, and more. And that goes for all of their fancy “plant-based” kissing cousins… from “be’f” lasagna to “chix’n” lunch meat… that are flooding the grocery stores right now.
Take the Impossible Burger, for example. It’s made with genetically modified soy. It has more than FOUR TIMES the junk sodium of a beef patty. And it falls firmly into the ultra-processed food zone.
Oh, and that “blood” in the burger? Well, that more soy. But this time, with some Frankenstein-level genetic tweaking. I only wish I were kidding. For the full scoop on the impossibly BAD burger, check out my special report here.
If you really want a meatless patty, consider a thick portobello mushroom or what’s known as a cauliflower steak. I’ve had both, and they’re quite tasty. You can find recipes online.
And no, they don’t taste anything like beef. But let’s face facts here… neither do those veggie burgers.
You’re probably shocked to find this one on the list. After all, nothing else in the supermarket has a bigger health “halo” than yogurt.
What could possibly be better for you than protein-packed, probiotic-rich yogurt? Well, I’ll admit NOT a lot. That is IF you eat real, plain, Greek yogurt.
But most people don’t. They eat “fruit on the bottom” versions, which are packed with sugar. In fact, the “fruit” in them bears a closer resemblance to the “jelly” in a jelly donut than the actual food it’s supposed to be.
And then bad goes to worse when many yogurt eaters choose a low-fat variety thinking THAT’S healthier, too. Spoiler alert: It’s not.
Yogurt IS healthy. You just have to pick the good stuff. Get fresh, plain, full-fat Greek yogurt. Then jazz it up with your own fresh fruits, cinnamon, or a dash of local honey (or all three).
3. NON-POTATO CHIPS:
Veggie chips, crisps, straws, and bean-shaped crunchy snacks have practically taken over the snack aisle in recent years. These crunchy chip replacements often feature pictures of vegetables on the outside.
They’re supposed to be better for you than potato chips, corn chips, and other salty, crispy snack foods. And they do SEEM like they’re a better option than Lay’s or Doritos to munch on when you’re watching some Netflix on a Friday night.
But the truth is they’re made with the same nasty vegetable oils and are loaded with junk salt. Many even have plenty of potato in them, even if there are other veggie powders in the mix.
Want a better crunchy TV snack? Homemade popcorn with your own seasonings is a far better option. Mist it with some good-for-you olive oil to help the spices stick if you like.
4. WHOLE GRAINS:
If you’re puzzled why whole grains made the list, let me explain. Whole grains are indeed a far healthier choice than the refined stuff. So your instinct to turn to them when you’re trying to eat healthier is spot on.
But there are two things you need to watch for with whole-grain foods.
First, despite being healthier, you can still easily overindulge. And overdoing a good carb will still send your blood sugar soaring. Not to mention it will sabotage our weight-loss efforts.
And second, a lot of very unhealthy foods are riding on the coattails of healthy whole grains. A basketful of questionable foods from cereal to waffles get slapped with a “MADE WITH WHOLE GRAINS” label to make them seem healthier than they are.
In reality, they’re often ultra-refined grain foods with just a touch of whole grains sprinkled in for show. So shop smart when it comes to this stuff, and at the very least limit how much of ANY form of grains you eat.
And here’s a general rule of thumb to follow: If a packaged food brags about how healthy it is right on the package, It’s almost certainly NOT healthy.
Don’t let the food manufacturers tell you what’s good for you and what’s not anyway. They definitely have skin in the game. Do your own homework. Read the labels yourself. And make your own choices.
And if you’re truly committed to eating healthier in the new year I have the simplest “trick” of all. Whenever possible, skip ANYTHING in a package and eat whole, fresh foods instead.