The world of healthy eating is a tricky thing to navigate. You can have nothing but the best intentions, and still end up eating poorly, unknowingly. There are hidden junk foods everywhere that are disguised as ‘healthy’ or ‘natural’, thanks to sneaky marketing ploys. However, it’s time to expose these impostors once and for all, and, hopefully, provide easy and truly nutritious substitutes.
Sneaky Junk Food #1: Fruit Juice
The common way of thinking goes something like this: fruit is healthy. So, therefore, fruit juice must be good, too. But, unfortunately, people fail to realize that most fruit juices are jam packed with extra, and totally unnecessary, sugars. If you’re craving an apple, eat the whole fruit instead of a glass of apple juice. Or, if you’re craving a cold beverage, try unsweetened iced tea with a squeeze of lemon or a glass of sparkling water.
Sneaky Junk Food #2: Sports Drinks
Commercial sports drinks (think Gatorade, Powerade, etc.) are teeming with sugars, artificial colors and flavors, and a ton of mystery preservatives. If you feel as if you need some replenishment after a long and exhausting workout, try coconut water, instead. It contains hydrating electrolytes, as well as B vitamins and potassium.
Sneaky Junk Food #3: Energy Bars
With the amount of sugar that these bars pack into a neatly-wrapped package, you may as well be eating candy. Really, there is nothing healthy or ‘energizing’ about them. If you need a mid-afternoon pick-me-up, skip all of the fillers and snack on a handful of nuts and a fresh piece of fruit, instead.
Sneaky Junk Food #4: Diet Sodas
Nope, just because they’re free of calories, diet sodas are NOT a good choice. In fact, due to the large quantities of artificial sweeteners and chemicals, diet sodas are actually WORSE for you than regular sodas (which are still pretty bad). The artificial sweeteners are actually appetite stimulators, too, so diet soda can make you crave more sugary snacks than you would otherwise. Instead of cracking open a soda, opt for a cup of yummy rooibos tea or, *gasp*, a tall glass of cold water!
Sneaky Junk Food #5: Frozen Yogurt
Every strip mall these days would not be complete without the mandatory serve-yourself fro-yo joint. And, we happily fill our cups with the stuff because, hey!, it’s not ice cream, so it MUST be better for us! In fact, it’s so much better that we can load it with sugar-loaded toppings, too! WRONG. Frozen yogurt is not only packed with loads of sugar, but it’s also missing a lot of the healthy fats that ice cream has. The best choice, though? If you’re craving something a little bit sweet and creamy, opt for a cup of plain yogurt topped with some fresh berries and chopped nuts.