We all want to do our bodies good, especially at lunchtime when we’re hungry for energy to get us through the rest of the day! Packing your lunch is a great way to avoid unhealthy fast food, or if you’re packing it for your kids, a sure way to help them bypass the not-so-healthy cafeteria food at school. But are the lunches you’re packing like most typical American brown bag lunches? If so, they’re probably loaded with foods that come from packages and contain unwanted “mystery” ingredients like additives, preservatives, added sugar, artificial colors and flavors.
Here’s a list of foods we commonly pack in our brown bags or kids’ lunch boxes. Take a read to learn about the unhealthy ingredients they contain. Then, check out my blog post, “How to upgrade your brown bag lunch with healthier foods.”
“Multigrain” foods: Don’t be fooled by promises of whole grains in crackers, breads and cereals. Most of these packaged foods are made from FLOUR and therefore are NOT whole. This can be confusing, but what it boils down to is this: once a grain is ground into a powdery flour substance IT NO LONGER EQUALS A WHOLE GRAIN, which means the nutritional benefits have diminished.
Read what Dr. Andrew Weil has to say about true whole grains and why it’s best to opt for these instead of packaged and processed versions.
Processed sweets: There’s nothing healthy about added sugar, and packaged desserts – cookies, cupcakes, candy – are loaded with it! Nabisco 100 calorie Chips Ahoy cookies, for example, contain multiple sweeteners on top of enriched flour and artificial flavors. If you’re looking for something sweet, ditch the packaged versions and make some homemade treats instead. Though still not the healthiest choice, at least you’ll know what’s in your own cookies and cakes, and you’ll be keeping yourself from ingredients that aren’t really food in the first place (like artificial colors, highly processed flours, etc.)
Sugary yogurts: Be advised – while yogurt naturally contains sugar from lactose, most flavored varieties contain added sugar, especially those labeled “light”.
Sandwiches: Yes, sandwiches are tasty, but our favorites like PB & J or turkey and cheese are usually packed with added sugar, enriched flour and preservatives. Typical ingredients like peanut butter and jelly contain multiple added sweeteners like sugar, molasses and high fructose corn syrup. Sliced deli meats aren’t usually just meat – in fact, most contain added sugar, anti-caking agents and preservatives. And don’t be fooled by the health promises of bread! Just like other multigrain products (see above), bread is not a healthy source of whole grains despite what the message on the packaged might say.
Looking to rid your diet of unhealthy foods like these? Not sure how to get started? Contact me to schedule an introductory health coaching session and we’ll create your next steps!