Approximately 8 out of 10 Americans practice the annual ritual of spring cleaning, moving through their home and freshening up bathrooms, closets and bedrooms. And just like a pile of hidden dust bunnies scattered under a bed, or the bit of expired food stinking up the back corner of your refrigerator, our daily dietary habits often also hide “dirty” culprits. Even those of us who are very committed to building our physical health and immune systems may not realize how certain “healthy foods,” snacks, or eating habits sabotage our health. Today, let’s spring-clean our diets from routines and foods that are holding us back!
Sneaky “Health” Foods and Daily Eating Habits That May Be More Unhealthy Than You Realize
1. Granola and Granola Bars
These foods often come with earthy, natural-looking packages paired with bold health claims, such as “gluten free” or “high in fiber.” Yet nearly all of the most popular brands of granola and granola bars are packed with added sugar.
In an analysis of 230 different granola bar brands, brands like LARA Bar, Nature Valley, KIND, and Kashi all had numerous products with exceptionally high levels of sugar.
Of course, granola and granola bars can still be a healthy part of your day. However, check both the nutrition facts and the ingredient list and try to avoid any granola products made with added sugars.
2. Stress or Boredom Eating
The American Psychological Association reports that 38% of us eat because we’re bored or stressed. And of those people, half said they did so at least once a week. “Many adults report…that these behaviors can lead to undesirable consequences, such as feeling sluggish or lazy and feeling bad about their bodies,” warns the association.
Before reaching for a bag of chips or that pint of ice cream, ask yourself some mindful eating questions:
- “Am I actually hungry? Do I feel the physical sensations of hunger in my stomach?”
- “If I’m not hungry, what am I feeling? Can I label this feeling or emotion?”
- “Eating won’t change this emotion. What can I do instead that helps me feel better about this specific emotion I’ve identified?”
Slowly shift your automatic inclination to snack when you’re stressed and bored away from food, and towards things that alleviate your actual concerns. Great examples include journaling, exercise, going for a walk, talking to a friend, or taking part in an activity that inspires you.
3. Dried Fruit
Yes, fruit is healthy. It’s a great source of immunity-boosting vitamins and minerals and phytonutrients, making fruit a great companion to immune-system supporting like BioPro Plus-500. Fruit is also one of the best ways to add fiber to your diet, and most Americans don’t get enough fiber in their day.
The problem is that many dried fruit products are preserved with sulfites and also contain a lot of added sugar or artificial sweeteners. But even more important is the process of dehydration. Dehydrated fruit, since it’s been dried and has shrunk, contains as much as 300% more calories per volume compared to fresh fruit. Put simply, you can easily consume far more dried fruit than you could fresh fruit, leading some people to accidentally over-eat both calories and sugar.
If you enjoy dried fruit, simply pay attention to the serving sizes. Everything in moderation!
4. “Reduced-Fat,” “Flavored,” or “Sugar-Free” Products
While the idea of foods and snacks that have been made “healthier” may sound appealing, it can actually have the opposite effect:
- Many flavored “health foods,” such as vanilla almond milk or chocolate hemp milk, include either added sugar, sugar alcohols, or artificial sweeteners
- The process of reducing fat in a food product, such as reduced-fat peanut butter, often changes the balance of fats in the food. For example, reduced-fat peanut butter is stripped of many healthy fats while still having the same amount of calories.
- Fat-free food products, such as fat-free yogurt, shares many of the same problems as the above.
Instead, focus on whole foods and foods that you can eat the way that nature intended!