We've all had one time or another when we've been suckered into thinking the newest health food trend is actually good for us only to find out later we were again falling victim to a wellness industry fad.
Some of these are easier to spot than others, but here are the foods I find myself constantly educating my family & friends about. Is this annoying for others? Yes. Will I stop? Nope!
Here we go:
Artisan or Specialty Sodas
Admittedly, I'm not a soda person. Even when I was a kid, I never took to it, but I can understand the appeal. By now I think we all know traditional soda is chock full of sugar, and people have varying opinions on diet sodas. Personally, I think they're fine.
But I see so many people buying these hipster-esque, fruit-infused, sodas that market themselves like they're just a touch more caloric than sparkling water. They're NOT! Look at the back of one, at a minimum you'll see 10 grams of sugar, often 20-30g of carbs. That's a piece of bread, or two. If you really want to have the soda, then have it, but don't fool yourself into thinking it's better for you then the Pepsi out of the vending machine.
Don't get me wrong, reducing your meat consumption is always a good idea, for both the planet and your health. But most veggie patties are full of random binders & ingredients and have way more carbs and fat than they do protein. If something is supposed to act as a substitute for animal protein, it should have more protein than carbs, otherwise, you're putting starch on starch on starch. Check the ingredients & macronutrients on your veggie patties!
Fresh fruit holds a ton of water & fiber. It fills you up, keeps you hydrated, and both of these things generally prevent people from consuming it in massive amounts. Dried fruit is wholly unnatural unless it's a garnish or used sparingly. Drying fruit allows it to be consumed in large quantities, which means TONS of sugar. While fruit is great for you, it's still sugar, and thus why nature created water filled varietals to limit the amount we eat. Think....did our ancestors ever eat 25 nectarines in one sitting?
Just say no to dried fruit as a snack, in trail mix, etc! If you want some in your salad or another dish, that's fine, but use it as a garnish, not the main component. And while we're on the topic of fruit.....
My hands are trembling with rage as I type this; my hatred for juice knows no bounds.
Slightly dramatic, but seriously. Juice is one of those crap trends that originated in LA as another way for women to severely decrease the number of calories they were consuming and pretend it's all in the name of "health" when in reality it's a thinly veiled eating disorder. Juice cleanses do not work, you'll lose water weight but eventually gain it all back and then some.
Juice as a beverage is like having a soda with some vitamins in it. Ew. Yes, you get the nutrients, but you're missing the essential part, fiber! Fiber helps your body process the sugar from fruit so it can be digested more efficiently. Juicing a fruit is literally leaving behind all of the good stuff. Green juice is also crap as well, to make it palatable you need to add a good amount of sweet fruit juice.
Rant over. Don't juice.
I caught my fiance' spreading plant-based butter all over his bread the other day and I cringed. Not his fault, it's certainly marketed as healthy!
Most vegan butter uses vegetable or seed oils which are AWFUL for you. I'm not an RD but look it up. They also end up having more calories than regular butter. While regular butter isn't great, in moderation you should be fine, and it has the essential omega 3 fats we need. If you are cutting out animal products, use olive oil as your fat. Olive oil is a magical food, despite being calorically dense and high in fat, numerous studies have shown that consumption leads to lower risk of heart disease, stroke etc. It has tons of antioxidants, and even consumed in large quantities has no correlation with weight gain.
Cauliflower Crust Pizza
I'm sorry to tell you this. Store-bought frozen or takeout cauliflower pizzas generally have a non-gluten binder like rice flour or potato starch in the dough, which makes them virtually as high in carbs as wheat-based crusts. Furthermore, because cauliflower in and of itself doesn't taste amazing, many brands use cheese or other fats to supplement, so overall its a really calorie-heavy crust and you may be better off (and more satiated) with a traditional crust.
The good news is there are some exceptions to this rule. Cauliflower Foods is great brand, no crap, macronutrients are in line with that they should be for a vegetable-based product. There is a place in LA I love, Cauliflower, and they also do vegan cheese, low fat, and have turkey pepperoni which makes my heart sing. Still, a treat as they probably use some starchy binders, but definitely lighter than traditional pizza. Homemade crust recipes are generally fantastic, high in fiber, full of the actual vegetable etc. Just choose wisely!
This one pains me as I absolutely love hummus. A well-made, high-quality hummus has a ton of nutrients, fiber and a bit of protein, and is definitely a fantastic accent on a dish, or a dip in limited amounts. But most people treat hummus as free for all food and totally overdo it. It's calorically dense as it's made from chickpeas and frequently has lots of oil in it (not always the good kind!). Treat hummus as an accent or a treat vs the main part of a meal. Also, remember the portions size is 2 tbs.... which is a hefty pita chip scoop in my book; it's easy to overdo it!
Sweet potatoes & Plantains
Both sweet potatoes & plantains have tons of health benefits & nutrients, they can and should be a part of your diet if they are foods you enjoy. But the nutritional benefits of sweet potatoes & plantains are comparable to white potatoes. Per serving, sweet potatoes & plantations have a measly 1g more of fiber than white potatoes, so the carbs & calories are not being digested any differently than those of white potatoes
The pitfall I see here is that people treat these foods as if they're not potatoes. Sweet potato fries are... fries. Plantain chips have just as many calories/carbs and fat as potato chips if cooked similarly, yet I see health-conscious people consuming entire bags without a second thought. Potatoes of any kind are fine in moderation but remember they're a calorically dense food with minimal amounts of fiber.
Anything in moderation... is fine. But nutrient-poor foods heralded as healthy foods is a major pet peeve of mine. Hopefully, this post helps you make informed choices that you feel good about moving forward.