Though most people recognize the junk-food quality of obvious high-sugar foods like candy and ice cream, many unhealthy items are available in the stores that you may erroneously think of as healthier alternatives. These foods, on the surface, may appear to be healthy choices, but in reality are not.
Diet soda and sugar addictions
Diet drinks are artificially sweetened with aspartame (NutraSweet), a chemical that causes brain damage and can increase appetite. The type of caramel coloring used in many diet sodas is a carcinogen. The phosphoric acid in sodas leeches calcium out of your bones, contributing to osteoporosis. Stay away from sodas of all types!
Try adding stevia powder instead of sugar or chemical sweeteners to your beverages. Stevia is a natural, plant-based sweetener that has virtually no calories and doesn’t carry the health risks that artificial sweeteners do.
Sugar-packed frozen entrees
Because today’s brands of health-conscious entrees are low in fat and calories, many dieters believe that they’re making a smart decision by eating these handy products. A quick look at the ingredients list shows that this isn’t the case.
For example, look at a glazed chicken entree from the most popular line of “healthy” frozen foods at the grocery store. Here are some of the issues with the ingredients in this frozen entree:
The chicken tenderloins undoubtedly come from feedlot meat, loaded with antibiotics, hormones, and chemicals.
The chicken is coated with high-fructose corn syrup, several preservatives, salt, and artificial caramel color.
The rice accompanying the chicken is blanched, meaning that all the nutrients have been stripped away. It also contains partially hydrogenated oil, sugar, maltodextrin (more sugar), and caramel coloring.
The vegetables are green beans with “natural flavors” and wheat berries.
To top it all off, you’re supposed to microwave the whole entree in the accompanying plastic tray. When plastics are heated, toxic chemicals leak out. Heat your food in glass containers instead.
Bacon options for the sugar addict
Though a high-protein breakfast is desirable, you can find much healthier protein sources than bacon.
Conventional bacon is made from feedlot hogs and is usually loaded with nitrites and other preservatives, sugars, artificial smoke flavoring, chemical coloring, and MSG.
Find a local farmer who can sell you bacon that’s made without harmful chemicals from animals that are raised on good food without hormones.
No canned soups for sugar addicts
A piping hot bowl of chicken soup or chili sounds like a healthy meal. Even though meat and vegetables are the primary ingredients, canned soup typically contains feedlot meat, too much salt, genetically modified ingredients, high-fructose corn syrup, MSG, and preservatives.
Many companies still use cans with bisphenol-a (BPA) in the lining. BPA is a chemical that acts as an artificial estrogen and has been linked to several negative health consequences.
Avoid sugar and genetically modified foods
Foods that have been genetically modified — often referred to as GM foods or GMOs — have caused concern among some members of the scientific community for possible human and environmental health risks, such as infertility, organ damage, and immune system problems.
Only time will tell what harm these products will truly end up causing to people’s bodies and the environment.
In 1988, more than 60 countries voted unanimously against the use of GMOs in food production and agriculture because the scientific consensus was that unacceptable risks were involved: threats to human health, a negative and irreversible environmental impact, and incompatibility with sustainable agriculture practices. Twenty-five years later, the United States still doesn’t require genetically modified foods to be labeled as such.
The PLU code for conventional produce is four numbers, while genetically modified produce has five numbers, starting with the number 8.
No microwave popcorn for sugar addicts
You may consider popcorn to be a low-calorie, high-fiber snack, but microwave popcorn isn’t a healthy choice. When microwaved, popcorn bags leak perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and other plastic residues into your food. PFOA has been linked to infertility, thyroid disease, and a host of other endocrine disorders.
Commercial microwave popcorn typically contains harmful trans fats, preservatives, artificial colors, sugar, chemical sweeteners, and other “flavor enhancers” like MSG.
Sugar-packed fruit juice and juice drinks
Even though fruit juice is loaded with vitamins and antioxidants, even 100 percent juice contains too much sugar to be a good choice for those who are trying to limit their sugar intake. Excess fructose causes body fat accumulation, increased appetite, liver disease, and elevated cholesterol and triglycerides.
An 8-ounce glass of orange juice has approximately 25 grams of sugar. If you choose to drink fruit juice occasionally, make sure you drink 100 percent juice, and limit yourself to a 4-ounce serving.
No rice cakes for the sugar addict
Any all-carbohydrate snack — especially if it’s made of processed, enriched grains — causes an insulin spike followed by a blood sugar crash several hours later. Rice cakes, granola bars, and other all-carb snacks aren’t good choices for sugar addicts because the lack of protein keeps them on the blood-sugar roller coaster and stimulates cravings.
Half a rice cake topped with almond butter or organic cheese adds fat and protein to mitigate the insulin response and keep your blood sugar levels more stable.
Avoid protein bars to reduce sugar
Most of the protein bars found on the shelves of grocery stores and health food stores are laden with sugars, syrups, preservatives, and fractionated oils (oils that are processed to become more saturated) — they’re basically candy bars with protein.
Avoid sugary peanut butter
Though natural peanut butter is a good source of healthy fats and protein, industrial peanut butter is made with hydrogenated oils to keep the oil from separating to the top of the jar. Industrial brands also add sugar and sometimes other additives like preservatives and flavorings.
Stick with organic, natural peanut butter. The ingredients should have no more than two items: peanuts and (maybe) salt.