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10 foods you thought were healthy - cereal

10 Foods You May Have Thought Are Healthy But Actually Make You Fat And Sick

Clever marketing by the food industry has made us believe certain foods are healthy when in fact they make us fat and sick.

Did you know that ninety percent of why your body is the weight it is, is down to diet? If the kilos aren’t coming off even though you’re heading to the gym regularly, then now you know it’s because what you eat is much more important than your workout. Exercise is of course essential to us in many other ways though. For example to maintain muscle mass, body toning, balance and endorphin release. But in terms of weight loss, it’s not that efficient if you aren’t either watching what you eat or doing huge cardio sessions to burn off those calories.

Don’t forget that the food industry is just that, an industry. A commercial enterprise driven by profit. And one of the ways they do this is through very clever marketing, making you believe that certain foods are good for you when they aren’t. 

Here are 10 foods that you may have thought are healthy options, but they actually make you pack on the pounds as well as increase your risk of diabetes, heart disease, fertility problems and auto-immune conditions.

1. Cereal

Cereal has become the breakfast staple. Full supermarket aisles are dedicated to this food group. And now you can even get them in individual sized cereal bars to eat on the go! But hold on a minute, have you read the labels? The commonest grains used in cereals are wheat, corn and rice and most packaged cereals are almost 100% carbohydrate with additional added sugar.

Corn and rice cereals also have a high glycaemic index (GI), this means they are digested very quickly so you get a big burst of sugar in your blood stream similar to eating a handful of lollies. Your body then needs to work hard and fast to get that sugar out of the blood and as a result you have these swinging sugar levels that can leave you feeling out of sorts, foggy headed and lethargic.

Big brand cereals are also made out of refined grains which means the fibre has been removed. The calories from cereals are poor quality because of the high GI value. This means these calories don’t go far to keep you feeling full and sustained. If you must have your cereal, choose unrefined wholegrains like rolled oats, bran, barley and quinoa and add some nuts and seeds for protein. A brand that does this really well is Brookfarm.

2. Rice cakes & crackers

Rice cakes and rice crackers are touted as really health snacks. They often have labelling on them to say they are low fat which tricks people into thinking that these foods won’t make them fat. Wrong. White rice is pure carbohydrate with very little fibre. This means it’s also digested extremely easily and quickly causing high blood sugar levels. The body responds to this by secreting lots of insulin to get the sugar levels under control. And guess what, insulin makes you hungrier!

So, if you’ve ever wondered how you can get through a whole packet of crackers in one sitting and still feel peckish, this is why. And watch out for flavoured crackers, the flavourings are generally made of even more sugar and additives like monosodium glutamate (MSG) which are linked to obesity, diabetes and infertility.

Honey dripping off a spoon onto toast

3. Honey

Honey is not a healthy alternative to table sugar. At the end of the day, honey is simply fructose and glucose when it’s broken down. So just because it’s naturally occurring doesn’t mean you can have as much as you like. Just like regular sugar, you should limit honey consumption. Don’t be fooled by products that are marketed as healthy because they are ‘sugar free’ or ‘natural’ but use honey instead. Honey is sugar. 

4. Flavoured yogurt

Yoghurt is a fermented dairy product and contains a mixture of protein, carbohydrate and fat. Flavoured yoghurts contain significantly more sugar than plain yoghurt. Some brands of flavoured yoghurt have up to 34grams of sugar per serving. That’s EIGHT teaspoons! Plain yoghurt on the other hand has less than one teaspoon per serving. Swap out flavoured yoghurts for plain or Greek yoghurt with berries. 

5. Fruit juice

The first thing to know is that fruit is not a free food. This means, you can’t just eat as much fruit as you like and think it won’t have repercussions on your body. Fruit contains a lot of sugar in the form of fructose. But the reason fruit is better for us than say a chocolate bar, is that fruit contains lots of nutrients and vitamins, anti-oxidants and fibre. Fibre means slower digestion and less fluctuation of blood sugar levels. Ideally limit fruit intake to 2 servings a day.  A glass of orange juice will contain three oranges. A glass of apple juice has three to four apples in it. And because it’s juice, there’s hardly any fibre. Would you sit and eat three oranges or four apples in one go? 

6. Diet foods

A calorie is not just a calorie. This means that calories have levels of quality. 100 calories of chocolate have much poorer value than 100 calories of almonds. The same holds true for diet foods. Yes, they may have less calories in them, but the way that is achieved is by removing fat and adding more sugar and salt to make the diet food more palatable. Fat is much more calorie dense than carbohydrate, so replacing some of it with sugar still leaves an overall net reduction in calories. But good fats are really important for us and more so they help us feel full. The added sugars in diet foods trigger off that insulin cascade which makes you feel hungrier and the increased salt creates more thirst. 

7. Energy drinks

Energy drinks are really bad for you, simple as that. They are packed with sugar which makes you gain weight. They may contain sugar substitutes or artificial sweeteners that seriously upset your gut health. And they have high levels of caffeine and taurine which can cause your heart to race, increase your blood pressure, affect your sleep, trigger anxiety, cause dehydration and can even lead to miscarriages.

8. Dried fruit

Just because it’s got the word fruit in it doesn’t mean it’s healthy. During the drying process extra sugar is added to the fruit. A snack size box of raisins contains 25g of sugar, that’s about five teaspoons! The WHO recommends 5 to 10 teaspoons of added sugar a day for adults, whilst the American Heart Foundation limits that even further to 6 teaspoons a day for women and 9 for men. 

9. Instant noodles

Instant noodles are mainly carbohydrate with fat and sugar in the seasoning sachet. And the fat is largely saturated fat, the unhealthy kind which is associated with heart disease. There is no protein and no fibre in instant noodles which means they aren’t filling and have very low nutritional value. They also have a high salt content and often contain MSG.

10. Sauces

Bottled and packet sauces to make your cooking quicker, easier and more flavoursome are a huge source of hidden sugar and salt as well as calories. This applies to tomato sauce, brown sauce, curry sauces, stir fry sauces and even pasta sauces.  A tablespoon of ketchup contains a teaspoon of sugar!

 

If you have anything you want to ask, or if there’s a topic you’d like me to write about just let me know. 

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