1. Energy/Fiber Bars

    Fiber is good for you, great for you even and you need about 30 grams a day in your diet. However, fiber bars (or energy bars) are not the way to get this. They contain ridiculous amounts of sugar and even some added additives and preservatives for longer shelf life. They are really nothing more than your regular candy bar in disguise.

  2. Processed Meats

    Processed meats (such as bacon, ham, hot dogs, sausages and lunch meats) are harmful to the body in so many ways. In 2010, Harvard researchers actually found that consuming processed meats can raise the risk of heart disease by up to 42% and the risk of diabetes by 20%. These meats contain unhealthy amounts of saturated fats and sodium. The high sodium levels ensure that the meat has a longer shelf life and also the addition of sodium nitrate (a chemical additive) preserves the color of the meat and adds flavor. Also, dangerously, sodium nitrate can convert to nitrosamines in the body which is a known cancer-causing substance.

  3. Rice snacks

    There is an awful myth circulating that rice cakes and rice snacks are a healthy diet snack. This is wrong, on so many levels. Rice (white rice especially) is a dense source of high glycaemic index carbohydrates which means that when we consume rice, the blood glucose levels increase along with the hormone insulin secreted by the pancreas. Insulin promotes fat storage in the body. Never mind this, rice cakes and rice snacks are also empty calories. Not only do they rapidly raise blood glucose levels and promote fat storage, they’re also not filling or satisfying to our hunger pangs in any way!

  4. Margarine

    Margarine has been revealed as a dietary demon. It is manufactured through the process of hydrogenating vegetable oil which creates trans fat. Trans fats are enemies to good health; promoting free radical damage all through the body. Butter is a better substitute in absolutely every case here.

  5. Fat-Free Foods

    You may save calories by opting for low fat options but all calories are not created equal so if you’re a calorie-counter, you might want to rethink this method of ‘healthy living’. Opting for low fat or fat-free foods means you can count fewer calories but you’ll pay for this in other ways. Manufacturers replace the fat they have removed from the product with excess sugar which is a lot worse for your health. Remember, fats don’t make you fat – it’s sugar that promotes and causes weight gain.

  6. Sugary Boxed Cereals

    Fortified and heavily processed cereals which too often occupy the breakfast table are devoid of fiber, packed with sugar and bursting with additives and nasty, damaging preservatives. They’re basically white flour sprayed in to shapes and coated with addictive sugar to make children want more and more.

    Sugary boxed cereals are one of the worst ways to start your day. Straight away in the morning you’re spiking your blood sugar levels. When insulin is secreted (and sugar is sent in to fat storage), our blood sugar levels then drop below their natural levels and we need another pick-me-up again to feel energized and awake – more sugar! This is a vicious cycle and starting your day off with these cereals means you’re setting yourself up for failure right throughout the day.

  7. Specialty Coffee Drinks

    Specialty coffee drinks are just loaded with unnecessary calories and fat. Think about your morning caramel latte with whipped cream: it amounts to approximately 400-450 calories and that’s not even a meal! One or two cups of coffee per day can have some great health benefits but try to opt for a plain Americano with some milk instead of adding in all the extras and if you need a sweetener, try some honey or pure cane syrup. Cinnamon can also be a great, tasty addition to your coffee and it promotes a faster metabolism.

  8. Soft drinks

    This one really needs no explanation. Soft drinks are probably the worst ranking dietary product of all time when it comes to nutrition benefit analysis. High in additives and preservatives that promote free radical damage, fat storage through insulin and leptin secretion and swings in energy levels, soft drinks are just bad news on all grounds. You may think that you’re doing yourself favors by choosing the calorie free soft drinks but believe it or not, these are actually worse. Put simply: Avoid, avoid, avoid!

  9. Fruit bars

    When it comes to these ‘healthy’ fruit snacks, there really is a massive difference between a piece of fresh fruit (with all its beautiful nutrients and natural fiber) and a compressed mix of fruit, sugar, gelatin and unnatural flavors and additives. The processed fruit snacks are a nightmare with their high sugar content and carbohydrate content. They’re terrible for teeth and notorious for weight gain. Stick to natural fruit instead – the way mother nature intended for it to be!

  10. Fast Food and Ready Made Meals

    Have you ever noticed that when it comes to fast food, the coloring is way off? The fast food processed meats and cheeses are seriously lacking in color – they’re just pasty white or brownish. Think about the ranch dressing, refined beans, burger meats and coleslaw… Do they resemble the normal, fresh coloring of vegetables or fresh meat? If a food lacks color, that means it is completely over processed, high in fat and void of any nutritional value. The healthiest foods on the planet are busting with color. Think of your berries, bell peppers, bright orange carrots and vibrant greens.

    Fast foods are also very soft and easy to chew. This means they have completely lost their natural textures and they wont keep you full for very long because they require little or no digestion at all. They are so easily digested by the body that they cause a rapid rise in blood sugar levels and promote immediate fat storage.

    Second to fast food are boxed, ready-made meals. When your entire meal comes in a box or bag, you’re in trouble. These boxed meals are completely over-processed and laden with high amounts of fat, sugar and sodium. Don’t be fooled by the low fat options either as those are laden with high levels of sugar.

    One cup of ready made mac and cheese (a very small portion) has 1,000 milligrams of sodium!

    Try home cooking instead and at least then you will know what’s going in to your dinners. There are ways home cooking can be super fast and still extremely healthy, not to mention an enjoyable, social and learning experience.

Thanks for reading!

Megan O'Neill

Megan O'Neill is a musician, psychologist, nutrition advisor and an absolute health-nut! She currently resides in London, but - as you may have guessed from the name - is originally from Ireland. Six years ago, following an incredible trip to Asia, she suddenly became very ill with IBS, food intolerances and chronic fatigue. No-one could have predicted how that fateful trip would... Read More

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