Multi-talented health coach, cookbook writer, wellness speaker, and founder of Walker Well-Being, Tammy Walker is all about making long-term healthy choices. It can be incredibly difficult to make positive food choices all day long (our sweet tooth tends to go into overdrive come 3P.M.), so this week Tammy is lending a hand and sharing her favorite healthy lifestyle tips on our blog.
While some foods totally deserve the health hype (three cheers for chia seeds!), there’s a surprising group of others whose wholesome reputation is iffy at best. These everyday foods may seem like the right choice for slim and clean eating, but as The Beastie Boys warned, “Listen all ya’ll, it’s a sabotage!” Here are a few secret saboteurs and my favorite healthy alternatives.
Multi-Grain & 7-Grain Breads
The halo: The more grains, the more fiber, the better!
Reality: Many multi-grain, 7-grain, and wheat breads are made with refined grains that have been chemically bleached, stripped of their fiber and minerals then pumped with synthetic versions of the real nutrients. If you see “enriched” or “bleached” in the ingredient list, keep it moving. It’s white bread with a tan.
Better choices: Anything with “whole grain” as the first ingredient. Even better, go with a sprouted grain bread like Food for Life Ezekiel 4:9, which has more protein, B vitamins and folate than regular whole-grain breads.
The halo: High protein, calcium, and good for my gut = healthy home run.
Reality: With all their added sugar, many flavored yogurts—even the Greek varieties—are pushing candy bar territory. Added sugar in the form of “evaporated cane juice” may sound virtuous, but it’s still processed and no better for you than regular white sugar. Some flavored yogurts approach the maximum daily recommended amount of added sugar (about 20 grams for women) in just a single serving.
Better choices: Plain, organic full- or low-fat yogurt, like Stonyfield Greek or Brown Cow, tricked out with your own mix-ins of fresh fruit and a little raw honey or stevia. For a non-dairy option, I like plain Amande.
The halo: They’re plant-based “good fats.”
Reality: Many refined vegetable oils like corn, soybean, and safflower—commonly used in packaged foods and fried fast foods— have a dangerously high ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids. Excess omega-6 is linked to chronic inflammation, the precursor to everything terrible, from weight gain to serious diseases like cancer. Also, the refining process uses high heat and chemical solvents to extract the oils. Toxins galore.
Better choices: Less processed oils with a better balance of fatty acids, including organic, cold-pressed extra virgin olive, coconut, avocado, and flaxseed oils. For a healthier cooking spray, put olive oil in a spray dispenser like Misto.