May 9, 2012 @ 8:08 PM

 

The definition of eating healthy varies from one person to another thanks to very clever marketing ads and deceptive health claims that make junk foods seem healthier.  In my opinion, foods aimed at the diabetic and weight loss population are probably the worst offenders.  Many foods that appear to be healthy are actually the main contributors to weight gain, so if you’re looking to lose body fat, stay away from what I believe are the five worst “healthy” foods:

1. Diet Sodas & Anything Sugar-Free

Diet foods like diet soda and sugar-free cookies top the list due to their synthetic substances such as sugar substitutes and toxic flavor enhancers, like aspartame and MSG.  These may have zero calories, but it is the quality and not the quantity of the calories that matters most.  Not all calories are metabolized the same way, which can affect your weight loss efforts.

Although artificial sweeteners like Splenda and aspartame activate the brain’s pleasure sensors more than normal sugar, they are in fact less satisfying at a cellular level because your brain can tell the difference between real sugar and synthetic ones.  This causes your body to crave even more sugar and can lead to overindulgence.

In addition, there is a mound of evidence and studies that prove its ill effects on our health, yet there are still many nutritionists and public health agencies that continue to recommend these toxic substances as safe alternatives to sugar.  In fact, just recently on the trusted Dr. Oz show, a nutritionist refuted these studies and claimed that sweeteners are safe for human consumption.  This is just not true as you can’t ignore 30 years worth of studies from unbiased sources that prove otherwise unless of course you have a vested interest in this industry or there is sheer ignorance at play.

2. Fruit Juice

Many people believe that fruit juice is a healthy beverage, especially for children.  Fruit juice is nothing more than sugar – and a whole lot of it.  One small bottle of orange juice can have more sugar than a can of soda, which can cause your insulin levels to rise and cripple your weight loss efforts.  If the vitamins and minerals are what you’re after, then eat the whole fruit instead or puree them into a smoothie.  Just keep the portions in check; eat only 2-3 fruits per day.

3. Frozen Yogurt

Low-fat frozen yogurt desserts topped with fresh fruits is the latest craze to hit Dubai, with shops popping up in almost every mall.  Unfortunately, store-bought varieties contain too much sugar to be considered healthy.  Even though it is made from low fat yogurt, the excess sugar to enhance the flavor is the weight gain culprit.

On the other hand, homemade frozen yogurt that is minimally sweetened with your favorite fruits can be a healthy treat once in a while.

4. Flavored Yogurt

Eating a small pot of flavored yogurt is like eating liquid candy.  Most flavored yogurts have more sugar in them than a chocolate bar.  Once again, be aware of the sugar content in foods and keep added sugar out of your diet as much as possible.  Plain white yogurt mixed with your favorite fruits is a much better alternative, and if possible, eat raw organic yogurt.

5. Pretzels & Rice Crackers

These salty snacks are considered the healthier alternatives to fried chips or crisps.  Although they are baked, they are still made out of refined flour, which to your body means sugar!  And even though they are “fat-free”, it is the simple carbohydrate in pretzels, rice crackers and other refined foods like corn flakes and rice crisp cereals that causes people to gain weight.  Simple carbs will increase your insulin levels and interfere with your body’s ability to burn fat, and in most cases will actually turn into body fat. 

B’s Bottom Line

Being healthy means knowing what you are eating and making the best possible choices.  As a rule of thumb, foods that make health claims are generally the ones that should be avoided in the first place. 

When in doubt, follow my golden rule for achieving optimum health and maintaining a healthy weight: 

"Eat only what the sun touches, what the rain and water nourishes, and what the earth naturally provides.  Avoid anything that is man-made or manipulated and you’ll be on your way to better health."

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