1. Salad dressing.
What a racket. People tend to get sucked into pretty labels and fancy names, but store-bought salad dressing is not all it’s cracked up to be. It’s usually loaded with artificial preservatives to make it shelf-stable. And it’s expensive. Even worse, the supposedly “healthy” fat-free varieties are loaded with fillers and sugar, because when they remove that fat it needs to be replaced with other texture and flavor to keep you coming back for more.
Skip the store-bought stuff and make your own delicious dressing by whisking together equal parts healthy oil with a good-quality vinegar. Add a pinch of sea salt & pepper plus whole-grain mustard, your favorite spice or fresh herb and voila! It’s yummier, healthier and better on your budget.
One of my favorites: 3 tablespoons each extra virgin olive oil and aged balsamic with 1/2 teaspoon stoneground mustard and a pinch of salt & pepper.
2. “Wheat” bread.
I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but “wheat bread” isn’t any better for you than white bread. In fact, in most cases it’s just white bread. It can be labeled as “wheat” because the flour used to make it comes from the wheat plant.
Even “whole wheat” bread is usually made from mostly white flour. Read the ingredients list and if it contains the words “wheat flour” or anything “enriched” or “blanched” just skip it. I’d say skip bread all together, but if you need to have it go for the 100% whole-grain, gluten-free and freshly baked varieties.
3. Flavored yogurt.
Marketers are excellent at tricking you into thinking all yogurt is good for you. But the truth is that most of those little cups of yogurt contain more sugar than a candy bar! Turn it around and read the label – if there is any sugar or fruit added skip it. I’m a big fan of eating little-to-no dairy. However, I put plain, unsweetened Greek yogurt in the “sometimes” category because it’s a good source of protein and contains probiotics. If you love yogurt, add your own fresh fruit to plain, unsweetened Greek yogurt for a healthier treat.
4. Bottled fruit juice.
Most bottles of juice contain less than 10% juice. So what’s the rest of it?! Water and sugar mostly. And sometimes food coloring (which by the way is banned is most countries except the US). If it contains more than 10% juice, it’s usually mostly apple juice. Read the labels of the fancy pomegranate and cranberry juices and you’ll be astonished. Skip store-bought fruit juice and stick to whole pieces of fruit. The only exception to this would be to drink 4 ounces of 100% cranberry juice each morning on an empty stomach if you often suffer from bladder infections. Just read the ingredients and make sure the only thing in the juice is fresh (not from concentrate) cranberries with nothing else added to it.
5. Fat-free crackers.
Like other fat-free foods, the problem with fat-free crackers is that when the fat is removed it has to be replaced with something else. And that something else is usually artificial fillers and sugar. It’s true. Read the nutrition label on fat-free crackers and you’ll be shocked at how much sugar they contain. All that sugar makes them so high-glycemic that snacking on them will make you hungrier than before you ate them. Plus, our bodies need fat, so removing it is just a marketing tactic that plays into people’s unfounded fear of fat. Do yourself a favor and stop buying them. In fact, stop buying anything that labels “fat-free” as a benefit (unless it’s naturally fat-free, of course).