I get asked quite a bit on my Instagram about certain so called “healthy” brands and products and my opinion.
I want to emphasize here (as I always do) the importance of ingredients vs. the nutritional label and “big words” on the packaging. You’ll often see common words and phrases to draw you in like:
• Nothing Artificial
• Heart Healthy
• Whole Grains
and my all time favorite…“All Natural”. Hey, guess what?! Rattle snake poisoning is all natural too! There’s nothing artificial about that, right? So does that automatically mean it’s good for you? See where I’m going with this?
Below are some well known brands that are actually recommended by professional dietitians (note: not all, but many dietitians and famous “health food” gurus are endorsed) as well as marketed as “the better alternative”. I’ve also listed what I would recommend instead.
So let’s get to it!
Let’s take a look at the ingredients, shall we?
Chocolate Chip Cookie Ingredients:
Protein Blend (Milk Protein Isolate, Whey Protein Isolate), Soluble Corn Fiber, Almonds, Water, Unsweetened Chocolate, Natural Flavors, Erythritol, Cocoa Butter, Palm Oil, Sea Salt, Calcium Carbonate, Sucralose, Steviol Glycosides (Stevia).
First off, you should know anything containing stevia I do not recommend. It wreaks havoc on anyone’s digestive system and can cause gas, bloating, headaches, and even weight gain…and that’s just the “safe” side effects. If you get anything out of this post, PLEASE read this post I did about stevia. It will make you think twice about consuming it, and more importantly, may even rid you of digestive symptoms you are having simply by cutting it out of your diet!
If stevia doesn’t convince you, Quest Bars also contain Erythritol (see this post I did about how Erythritol is one of the worst things to consume for IBS sufferers) as well as Natural Flavors (see this post). The corn fiber is most likely GMO, and these ingredients alone should make you want to stop buying these. P.S. I use to eat these on occasion (hey, I’m not perfect!) and knew they were bad for me and felt horrible after each time I did. But about 3 years ago I stopped cold turkey and now I know if eat one I will have huge IBS upsets, headaches, and just feel crappy!
Kashi Granola Bars:
Check out the website. They highlight their whole grain aspect, fiber and proteins content, as well as their Non-GMO stamp. So what? Don’t pay any attention to the marketing. Just take a look at the ingredients (because that’s all that matters) and let me know if you feel they’re still on your healthy list.
Notice the packaging? They’re 100 calories, only contain 3g of sugar, and are gluten free! They also contain glucose syrup, soy lecithin, and natural flavor. Yum! (I’ve linked these ingredients to separate posts I’ve done about them in case you’re interested)
What are better alternatives?
I am addicted to Evo Hemp bars! Not only do they contain clean, REAL food ingredients that you can pronounce, but they’re also organic, non-GMO, raw, vegan, paleo, gluten free, …..and the best part? They contain hemp which helps reduce inflammation in the body! Anything from their website is 20% off with code: lilsipper.
I also like Larabars original line. However, they’re not organic or non-GMO, and I don’t have a code, but still a pretty good option.
Now this brand is one I get asked about a lot! If you’ve read what I already wrote above, then you probably already know my view. Again, this is something I used to consume once or twice a month (knowing it was bad for me) but a few years ago I stopped eating them too and reset my entire taste buds (not to mention digestion).
Just look at the ingredients. Same crap as mentioned above.
Below are 2 other well known brands in the same category as Halo Top: crap.
Now again, when you look at their site you’ll see they emphasize this bread:
• Is made with real honey
• Contains no artificial colors or flavors
• Doesn’t contain corn syryp
• Is an excellent source of fiber (compared to…?)
But just check the ingredients!
Whole wheat flour, water, wheat gluten, modified wheat starch, cellulose fiber, honey, yeast, sugar, wheat bran, salt, preservatives (calcium propionate, sorbic acid), grain vinegar, soybean oil, natural flavor, mono- and diglycerides, datem, cellulose gum, calcium sulfate, monocalcium phosphate, reb a (stevia leaf sweetener), cornstarch, soy lecithin, citric acid, honey solids, potassium iodate.
So what if it’s made with real honey, contains whole grains, yada yada….they only emphasize the good. Of course you won’t see packaging with big letters:
“MADE WITH PRESERVATIVES. GREAT SOURCE OF CALCIUM SULFATE, MONO AND DIGLYCERIDES, AND MONOCALCIUM PHOSPHATE. PLUS ADDED POTASSIUM IODATE!”
This of course applies for any food item, not just bread. Check your ingredients! I’d rather eat something higher in calories, fat, and carbs made from REAL food than some diet product any day.
4-Ingredient Paleo Bread
By now you should probably be able to read the ingredient list of this yogurt and know the effects from it’s ingredients. Same old same old…..
This is just one brand I am using for example.
A better alternative is Nancy’s Yogurt. I really like their plain greek which contains high amounts of probiotcs and NO gums, thickeners, preservatives, or added sugars / artificial sweeteners. The sugars in these yogurts are just naturally occurring from the lactic acid during the culturing process.
You may be wondering about the “dry milk powder” in Nancy’s ingredient list. I was skeptical at first too. However, if you know me by now, you know I most certainly contacted the company to dig deeper. Come to find out, the live cultures feed on the nonfat dry milk, which allows them to grow, resulting in a larger overall beneficial microbe count. It totally makes sense now why their brand contains higher amounts of probiotics than many commercial brands.
Let’s not even get into this LOL I mean, unless Potassium Bicarbonate, Potassium Chloride, Caramel Color, and Calcium Sulfate sound appetizing then by all means…have at it!
This may be shocking, but think about it. Have you ever cut open an apple, put it in a bag in the fridge, then check back a day, even hours later? What does it look like? It’s browned. This is NATURAL! So how do those pre-sliced apples in baggies stay “fresh” for weeks? Obviously preservatives to well, preserve them. Check for yourself. Best to just buy fresh apples/fruit and slice them yourself. You’ll also save yourself some money!
Below are just 2 examples of non-dairy milks you may think are healthy / the better alternative to other dairy free milks, but just because they highlight:
• Soy-free, dairy-free, gluten-free, carrageenan-free, non-GMO, kosher, vegan, BPA-free
• 50% more calcium than milk
• Only 40 calories per serving
• Made from non-genetically engineered almonds
….doesn’t make it better. Again, check the ingredients. (Dang, I’m starting to soud like a broken record. lol)
If you look under the “benefits tab” of Silk, you’ll see all the “benefits” highlighted. I just love the last line. LOL
FYI – if you’re not sure what gellan gum is, it’s similar to xanthan gum, guar gum, and locust bean gum in that it’s an emulsifier. It can also cause digestive issues and alter healthy levels of intestinal bacteria! But hey, it’s carageenan free! (eye roll).
Read THIS POST about gums. Please, your gut will thank you!
◊ THINK ABOUT THIS ◊ Ever made your own nut milk? How long does it take for it to go bad? I made my own and usually after 6 days I don’t want to touch it and make more. So how then, can commercially produced nut milks be on the shelves for up to 3 months?
I’m not going into these as I will just sound more redundant (but I do get asked about these brands as well as others so I’ve listed just 2 below for reference). Check the ingredients, yo.
Sadly, many companies put fillers, stevia, lethitins, and other junk into their chocolate and claim them to be healthy for you. I prefer to eat a bar with cane sugar rather than stevia or monk fruit (at least I know I am eating something less processed and it won’t disrupt my digestive system or give me headaches…and it’s at least REAL!) but even so, I prefer absolutely NO sugar in my chocolate. I eat enough natural sugars from fruits (note, fruit sugar is NOT the enemy!) so the less processed sugar (like sugar in the raw, cane sugar, etc.) I can cut out the better since it can cause yeast overgrowth, acne, etc.
Santa Barbara Chocolate offers 100% Organic, unsweetened chocolate discs that contain just 1 ingredient! (Organic Cacao Mass). No sugar. No lethitins. No stevia. No fillers…I mean, it’s just 1 ingredient! Plus it’s organic. I literally eat them like chocolate chips, top my smoothies with them, and melt them to my desserts! These are the exact ones I use and you can get $10 off with code: lilsipper.
SPICES / SEASONINGS:
When it comes to seasonings, many don’t even think twice about it. It’s so overlooked…but examine closely.
But I buy organic so it must be good, right?
Not so fast. Let’s get back to basics from the beginning of this post. Don’t assume just because it’s organic and has big healthy words on the packaging it’s a winner. Just look at this Simply Organic Ranch Dip Mix.
• Gluten Free
• No Animal Testing
• Non Irradiated
But still check the ingredients. It was hard to view on Simply Organic’s website (I’m sure they made it that way for a reason) but you can read them clearer on Amazon HERE.
There are obviously more items out in the food world, but the above are just a select few I chose for example. It’s not up to me to “approve” on something, YOU have the tools now to determine what you want to put in your body, examine ingredient lists, and most importantly, skip over the “hype” on the front of the label, who’s endorsing it, and be your own judge. Just because a fancy celebrity or acclaimed health guru says it’s good, still check yourself.
One last thing before I close, I don’t want you to freak out if you eat something “bad”. Hey, we all do it! But try not to make it a regular thing. The point of this post was to bring to light the foods you may be buying regularly thinking they are benefiting you. Instead, put these foods on the “once in a while” list if you REALLY want them. It’s all up to you!