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Yes, You CAN Eat That- 5 'Bad' Foods That Are Actually Healthy

Apr 21, 2017

“Remove these NOW!”

“Avoid this.”

“Eliminate that.”

Sound familiar? Chances are you’ve seen these demanding headlines while skimming tabloids at the grocery store, listening to the radio or perusing the internet. While the content can be awesome, the take-away is often not.

It’s true, mainstream media tends to suggest a message of avoidance when it comes to health and nutrition. While the intended lesson may be to educate, it’s hard to feel motivated when told you need to eliminate all delicious things from your life!

Well, good news for those with taste buds. Here are 5 foods that tend to get a bad rap and often due to warranted confusion. Here we’ll explore where the confusion comes from and provide some helpful hints of what to select within those “off limit” goodies! It’s time to clear a few things up and give your palate something to sing about.

1. Bread

Bread got a bad name when media caught wind that carbohydrates can turn to fat (a fact true for eternity and applicable to almost anything that enters our bodies.) Since the most commonly known carbohydrate is bread, the good ol’ loaf got some immediate haters.

But here’s the thing: we need 3 major nutrients (macronutrients) for our bodies to run properly.

Breathing, running, smiling, waving, losing weight, gaining muscle...these three nutrients are all vital to make LIFE happen.

What is that magic trio? Protein, fat and...CARBS!

(Like what you’re hearing? Get more content on crucial carbs here)

Why it gets a bad rap:

Almost all foods contain carbohydrates but they vary in amount (called grams) and how they process in our bods. So where’s bread in this nutritional dance? Well, it depends.

Some, like Wonder bread, pack a good amount of grams and process through our bodies quickly. These enriched breads tend to be quite popular in homes and restaurants because of their taste and low cost. Thus, when the public thinks of bread, they often think of these, less than superb kinds.

However others, like Whole Grain, also pack a good number of grams but process slowly, expelling energy into our system at a pace that helps us chase dogs at 6am and climb stairs at noon. They can keep us full and fueled.

So bread can be a good source that vital macronutrient, but how does one sort through all those different loaves?

What to look for:

  • Ingredients list “100% Whole Grain”

  • If the label says, “made with whole grains” take a gander at the ingredient list. Shoot for those that state “whole grain” FIRST

  • Give a squeeze- does it appear as plush as a new pillow? Might want to choose it’s firmer cousin as the denser the loaf, the more likely to contain nourishing whole grains

2. Fat

Grab a basket and stroll down the grocery aisle, fill it whenever you see the following:


“Reduced Fat”


Chances are, your bicep is going to be bulging before you even come close to the end...the removal of fat is a very, very popular thing.

We explored the concept of vital macronutrients above and here we are trying to eliminate another one of ‘em! So, what gives?

Well, while Mother Nature requires our bodies to run on fat, protein and carbohydrates, she most likely didn’t invent the foods that are making your arm explode. Those foods are typically touting their nonfat message because they’re packin’ a whole lot of nonsense and getting rid of a fat we didn’t need in the first place.

Why it gets a bad rap:

There are two kinds of fat: “Sneaky” Saturated and “Underutilized” Unsaturated. Sneaky Saturated fat is the “nonsense” mentioned above. They tend to be in cakes, packaged cookies and crackers. They make food taste yummy, are easy for food companies to sell and also cause weight gain, poor cholesterol levels and a slew of other physical problems. No bueno! That’s why many food distributors will produce lesser amounts of those fats in their “healthy” items and why articles and magazines often promote the “NO MORE FAT!” slogan.

The other kind of fat, Unsaturated, is the real MVP but often left on the bench. These fats can lower cholesterol levels, improve heart health and assist in weight loss. The best part? The more you eat the good guys the better they taste! Is all of this new and slightly overwhelming? Not to fear, there’s a lot of information regarding the skinny on fat!

So, we need more of the good and less of the bad, how do we pick through all that nonsense?

What to look for:

  • Salmon

  • Mackerel

  • Cashews

  • Walnuts

  • Almonds

  • Pumpkin Seeds

  • Peanut Butter

  • Olive Oil

  • Peanut Oil

  • Avocado

3. Chocolate

Oh yes, you read right. Mankind’s one true love is probably the most commonly stated, “guilty pleasure” but is really only deserving of the term’s second half. While chocolate may not have the same nutritional properties of a fully balanced meal (and thus deserving of “pleasure”) it certainly doesn’t deserve “guilty.”

Often encouraged to eliminate, “Chocolate” as a category is a bit misunderstood. Not only can cocoa help reduce LDL (bad) cholesterol and lower blood pressure, research is showing strong potential on its positive role with memory and cognitive blood flow. Sign me up.

Why it gets a bad rap:

The first reason we are often told to nix chocolate off our grocery list is the simple reason of quantity i.e. even too much of a good thing can be a bad thing. See, most people enjoy the taste of it (der) and take pleasure a bit too much...which can yield weight gain and correlating health issues. The takeaway: if you want some of “the good stuff”, opt for a serving.

The second typical reason of total elimination? Quality. There are certainly differences when it comes to chocolately delight, let’s break it down so you can opt for the better choice of coco puff.

What to look for:

  • A large percentage of cocoa- 70%+ will leave your head, heart and hips happy

  • See the word, “Dark?” Great! That selection will typically have far less sugar and far more awesomeness than its counterparts

  • The fewer total ingredients listed in your pick of pleasure, the better

4. Alcohol

Let the 21 year old in us rejoice.

While there are certainly repercussions of alcohol abuse, we’ll focus on alcohol use in a general sense, as viewed in nutrition. When the two are brought up, people often have an “all or nothing” approach. “I can be healthy or I can drink.” Talk about a mental burden for those who used to enjoy it responsibly.

Well well, health enthusiasts, there is an alternative approach encouraged to adopt.

Why it gets a bad rap:

Alcohol, like chocolate, is a pleasure. It’s not vital for survival and can be lived without. However, people do take pleasure in it...until they’re told they need to dump it down the sink completely if they want to lose weight or attain a certain physique.

Just like chocolate, we need to take a look at quantity and quality. The very obvious amount one consumes the bubbly is a factor and a reason why the elimination message is so popular. Keep it in moderation to keep it cool.

As for quality, there are SO many delicious concoctions that take place behind a bar and SO many of them contain a heckofalot more than alcohol!

Sugar, sugar and well, more sugar. The reason your friend may be endorsing the zero booze slogan is because her nutritionist nixed her go-to strawberry daiquiri...which packs 40 grams of sugar in a serving. However, before you frown into your wine glass, consider the difference between drink types.

What to look for:

  • The obvious: keep it moderate

  • If a liquor drinker: the lighter the liquid, the better. Choose a serving with soda water or boatloads of muddled fruit

  • If you like brewskis: opt for light.

  • And if grapes get you goin’: half your vino serving by mixing in soda water or simply sip it slow

  • Avoid simple syrup, pre-packaged “mixed” beverages, triple sec and other sugar added mixtures

  • Keep a glass of water next to your bevvie: ‘sip for sip’ takes on a new meaning

5. Snacks

Let’s be honest, snacks can be less than stellar. When you think of snacks, crackers, chips, cheese, pretzels, pop-tarts and a plethora of crispy others probably come to mind. As we’ll see, not the best options. However, when we are “not allowed” to munch when craving strikes we can become grumpy, sad, angry or even eat way more than planned at our next meal. So what do we do?!

Why it gets a bad rap:

Well, see above. The foods often associated with snacking are not “macronutrienty” superb. Like we explored earlier, we’ve got good fats and bad fats, energy producing carbohydrates and empty calorie carbohydrates...the snacks listed above tend to be a combo of the not so awesome fats and carbs.

That’s our “Quality” (sense a theme here?). We’ll dive into good quality below.

And of course, quantity. Keep it within reason, reason usually meaning a serving. If the serving size seems tiny and doesn’t fill ya up, check out your quality. The less than stellar options tend to have more calories and less satiating characteristics.

What to look for:

  • Combine a carbohydrate based source with a protein e.g. an apple and greek yogurt, a banana and cottage cheese, a piece of toast and an egg, rice cakes and turkey slices, the delicious list goes on!

  • Shoot for nature and avoid boxes- opt for whole foods with fewer ingredients and pass over items found in cardboard

  • Don’t wait until you’re starving- it is very, very hard to close a refrigerator when your stomach is barking

  • Observe your bod- what snacks make you hungrier? What snacks give you energy...fatigue? Switch it up, observe, make adjustments as needed

Hopefully you’re feeling refreshed, renewed and energized with options, as that’s what wellness is all about. Elimination, avoidance and neglect...those things warrant a second look! While we listed 5 popular “unhealthy” foods here, there are CERTAINLY more. Have a question about your favorite “bad” food? Shoot us an email, let’s explore it together.


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