I try my best to eat right, exercise and make smart choices ... most of the time. "I try," being the important part of that sentence, which means that sometimes when the warm delicious smell of a pizza in the oven wafts my way my mind forgets that whole healthy part and loses itself in the warm goodness of congealed cheese. In my quest for healthy living I make a lot of assumptions. Fish good. Pizza bad. Seitan good. Burgers bad. After I had successfully kept this up for a couple of months I began to wonder why I still hadn't seen a change in my waistline nor in how I felt, so I began my investigation and sure enough I was still eating terrible foods for my body! Who'd have thought there are unhealthy health foods?! Ok, well maybe I'm the last one on the phone tree for some of these and then again, there are some pretty obvious ones as well. So if you've had the same struggles I have, read on and be prepared to exchange some of these tasty treats for the right alternatives!
Bad: Seitan | High in Wheat Gluten
I first fell in love with Seitan served as "Vegetarian Buffalo Wings" at a restaurant. They seemed like a healthier alternative because I assumed at that time all things marked "vegetarian" were better than their meat alternatives. My attraction is that this is also a product not derived from soy and if you're a woman who is concerned about all the information that has come out about soy over the years, you'll feel me on this one. Unfortunately, Seitan is made entirely of wheat gluten, which is a highly allergenic protein that is naturally found in very small doses of many of our other favorite foods. In summation, this high of a dose can trigger a gluten allergen or intolerance and does not help your body function to its full potential.
Better Alternative: Soy-Free Tofu | Make from Chickpea Flour
This doesn't contain soy, which is harmful to some and is high in nutrients! Looking for a recipe?
Bad: Shark | High Mercury Content
Oh yeah, you read that right. MERCURY. So, mercury is in pretty much all fish because it is in our oceans, streams, lakes, etc. so some fish have higher content than others and as we all know Mercury can cause a lot of damage, especially for pregnant women and small children. Mercury messes with your nervous system, brain function, fertility and even your blood pressure. Predatory fish such as large tuna, swordfish, shark and mackerel can have mercury concentrations in their bodies that are 10,000 times higher than those of their surrounding habitat. The worst part is that I love Shark for its meatier consistency and it is one of the less "fishy" seafood options, but it's certainly not worth the risk.
Better Alternative: Salmon | Highest Omega-3 Fat Content & Lowest Mercury Level of Fish
No matter how you serve it, Salmon is the healthiest fish you can eat! Serve it up tonight!
Bad: Fat-Free Salad Dressing | High in Sugar, Fructose Corn Syrup, emulsifying agents, unnatural ingredients, etc.
Yep, we've all become too obsessed with "fat-free." We've become so obsessed that we would rather ingest strange chemicals in hopes of saving a couple grams of fat and calories. These ingredients are far worse for you than the natural fats you'll find in dressings that contain healthy oils with fatty acids and antioxidants. I, too, fell into this trap in hopes of cutting out the "bad" things I've been eating, but if there's something I've learned, it is that I should be a little less concerned with the number of calories and think more about the natural and organic portions of my diet to eat a little more "clean" in my day and stop obsessing with the numbers (calories, fat grams, and the number on the scale)!
Better Alternative: Honey-Tahini Dressing
This is great to make yourself! It's a quick and easy recipe with all-natural and healthy goodness!
Bad: Rice Cakes
Duh. We all know these little guys don't contain one darn thing that's good for us, but not only is this an empty food it also has a horrible glycemic index. This means you're trying to fill your tummy with something to curve the cravings and instead you're putting something in your tummy that will immediately make things worse once you come off that sugar high. Yep, you're poking a sleeping bear with a stick. I mean, when I'm hungry I think of myself as bear so ... you get where I was going with that. Either way, it's best to save yourself the horrible crash and burn after by filling your grumbling stomach with something that won't leave you pigging out not long after you eat it.
Better Alternative: Veggies & Hummus
You'll get the fulfilling snack portion without the horrible crash after and you'll feel full longer!
Sources: Shape | Eating Well | Inspired Taste