Un-Healthy Foods from the Health Food Store

by Nathan Jaynes, MH

Okay, you have decided to make a few changes in your diet. You're eating less meat, and switched to whole wheat bread. You've even decided to get some of your groceries at the local health food store. But while you're there, take a look at what's in your grocery cart before calling it natural. Some of the items sold in health food stores just aren't healthy.

Having visited many health food stores along the Wasatch front, as well as a few out of state, I have noticed a few un-healthy trends. Shelves that are supposed to be reserved for natural and wholesome foods contain items that are as man-made as margarine and soda. Now, I realize that many of these foods are there for people who are making a transition from the standard American diet to a healthier one, but do we have to call them health foods if they came from a health food store?

For me, health food is whole, un-adulterated, not enhanced, not radically modified, and life giving. Health food is not genetically engineered, fortified, pasteurized, isolated, or made in a lab. But more and more we find things like sugar free candy, protein bars, diet drinks, and sodas with ingredient lists that would take someone with a degree in chemistry to understand. The most dangerous thing about these foods is people think since they came from a health food store, they are harmless and natural. These foods are sold alongside organic produce, whole herbs, grains and nuts. Unknowingly, shoppers can go down one isle and get raw-organic carrot juice, and then in the next isle, fluoridated tooth paste.

If you're a knowledgeable shopper, health food stores have a lot to offer. Fresh organic produce, herbs from around the country and world, spices, cookbooks, classes, and like-minded people that can help you make sense of it all. If you find yourself asking "is this food healthy or not", just look at the label. If the ingredients sound like chemicals, you can be sure you're getting something less than healthy. If the ingredients are plant based, then feel free to try it.