When we think of unhealthy foods a lot of images spring to mind. Whether it's colossal burgers laced with extra bacon and melted cheese or loaded french fries drowning in chili, jalapeño peppers, and mustard. These days, we know that Coca-Cola is damaging our internal organs and that binging on a McDonald's Big Mac every evening isn't a smart idea. Everything in moderation. That's what we tell ourselves. Us humans think we've got a good idea about what counts as healthy food and what doesn't.
Healthy food is rabbit food. It's smoothies filled with more apples and bananas than we could eat in a day, rainbow-colored salads, cream cheese on oatcakes, and protein bars that help us keep fit as we pound the treadmill. But there are a few "healthy" foods out there that are secretly unhealthy and causing many of us to pile on the pounds as we try to lose weight.
To discover why so many people struggle to stop eating unhealthy foods, check out the video below:
What shocked me most about these secretly unhealthy foods was how often I ate them. If you've ever seen the movie Supersize Me, you'll know just how quickly the regular consumption of unhealthy foods can start to take its toll on your health. One of the reasons that I became vegetarian was that my grandfather's love of red meat helped put him into an early grave. But in today's consumer-driven world, there's no denying that we're sold a lot of foods under false pretenses.
1. Instant oatmeal
This seemingly healthy breakfast choice is, in fact, packed with sugar and sodium. So if you're in a rush in the morning, grabbing a few pieces of fruit is definitely a better option. You only get the energy-giving benefits oatmeal if you make it from scratch!
2. Sports drinks
Whilst sports drinks might sound healthier than sodas, they really aren't. They're absolutely crammed full of sugar. If you're looking for a fruity water, your best bet is to buy a fruit defuser and make your own.
If you're anything like me, you'll love a good wrap for lunch. However, they're shockingly unhealthy. Bizarrely enough, it's the wraps themselves which can cause so much damage as they can contain up to 300 calories worth alone. That, coupled with the toppings of your choice, means that you could be consuming half of your recommended daily intake in one meal!
4. Kale chips
Kale chips have all the negative health benefits of regular chips. That's because of all the oil and salt which must be added to the kale to get the taste we love. In fact, the calorie intake from kale chips can be greater than your average slice of brie cheese!
While snacking on some cheese might seem like a better option than stuffing your face with Jolly Ranchers, it's worse, especially if you're trying to lose weight. It contains a lot of saturated fat - however, some types like cottage cheese aren't as bad as others.
A single California roll contains the calorific equivalent of eating two crab sandwiches. The reason that sushi is so unhealthy is the amount of rice it contains. That, coupled with a meaty filling, means you've got a seriously unhealthy meal.
7. Bottled green tea
Yes, even green tea isn't as healthy as we'd like it to be. However, the good news is that it's only bottled green tea that's secretly unhealthy. The green tea sold in bottles is, to all extents and purposes, water mixed with sugar.
Whilst there's a lot of nutritional benefits to eating nuts, if they're salted, they can actually be very dangerous for your health. It's no wonder, then, that nuts are often sold in bars alongside other fattening products like beef jerky and potato chips!
9. Cold cuts
Cold cuts of meat are very unhealthy. So even if your Subway is stuffed with vegetables, if it's still laced with cuts of meat, it's still going to be pretty bad for you. It's got a high sodium content and contains a lot of saturated fats and preservatives too.
If you're looking to be healthy, you might want to ask your server to alter your salad order. Whilst raw vegetables are healthy, salads often contain dressings and additional foods like roasted chicken which can make the whole meal incredibly unhealthy.
11. Rice milk
Rice milk is more unhealthy than cow's milk. That's because it's made from the carbohydrates in rice. They don't contain a lot of calcium or protein - as milk is supposed to do. So if you're vegan or lactose intolerant, a better alternative is almond milk.
An all carb diet is a bad idea and so is eating too much pasta. Carbohydrates don't just make people gain weight, but they can also cause a number of dangerous conditions including diabetes and heart disease. It's definitely a food to be enjoyed in moderation!
13. Banana chips
Banana chips are basically fried banana. Whilst they might taste good, they're not as filling as normal bananas, and they have a higher calorific content. Your average banana contains around 100 calories, but just one ounce of banana chips contains 150.
Horrifyingly, granola isn't healthy. So I've been wasting my time buying it as an alternative to cereal bars. Whilst the nuts and oats it's made of are technically healthy, to make it into a bar, or a cereal, it needs to be stuck together using a lot of oil and butter.
15. Baked beans
Whilst beans themselves are healthy, baked beans are not. The sauce they are served in contains a great deal of sugar and syrup (amongst other things you probably don't want to know about). So baked beans are definitely not a lighter meal alternative!
16. Vegan snacks
Heartbreakingly, vegan snacks are no more healthy than their dairy and egg filled equivalents. But given how strict vegan diets are, it's easy to see why many people make the false assumption that they're somehow eating guilt-free junk food.
17. Green juice
Despite being colored like vomit and making countless claims about its health benefits on the packaging, bottled green juice is unhealthy. Why? I hear you ask. It's because it's absolutely crammed full of sugar.
18. Veggie burgers
Veggie burgers are almost as unhealthy as meat burgers. The vegetables they're made from are stuck together using butter and oil, something which seriously increases the calorie content. Typically, a veggie burger has only 100 calories less than a meat one.
19. Rice cakes
Despite looking healthy and tasting horrendous, rice cakes don't contain anything that's unhealthy, but they contain absolutely nothing that's benefitting our health either. So you're disgusting yourself for nothing when you eat them!
20. Fat-free food
There might be fat-free foods in your local store, but by no means does that mean that they're healthier than their fat-containing equivalents. If anything, the fact that it says fat-free on the label just dupes us into eating more than we'd otherwise do, cancelling out any calorific reduction it might have. These foods also contain a lot more sugar than their non-fat free equivalents.
So the next time you're looking to stock up on some "healthy" foods, you might want to think twice about what you're buying. Unfortunately, even with the best intentions in the world, unless you're really clued up about what you're putting into your mouth, you could be unknowingly piling on the pounds and worsening your health by trying to resist temptation!