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6 Reasons you can't win in the healthy eating game

Krissy Brady is a women’s health + lifestyle writer who’s so out of shape, it’s like she has the innards of an 80-year-old. Instead of learning how to crochet, she decided to turn her emotional baggage into a writing career (genius, no?)...

The more you learn, the less you know

Dear health industry: Throw us a bone! You're worse than a guy sending mixed signals.
Bored woman eating salad

One minute, you're telling us certain foods will make us live to be 175; the next, those same foods are causing more side effects than medication.

We research answers to our endless scroll of questions in an attempt to make sense of it all, and do you know what we find? Contradictory information so confusing we end up drowning our sorrows in enormous pastries and country music. (Country. Music.) Thanks to you, our health has become a giant roulette wheel of WTF that even Bob Barker couldn't make appealing.

I’m jealous of my cat for several reasons, but the biggest is how simple his diet is: One food covers all of his kitty needs. It offers him the protein, whole grains, veggies and fruit necessary for fur so shiny he could star in his own shampoo commercial, and an energy level I can only dream about. (I’ve been trying to get him to do my yoga for me, but no dice.) Seriously, where’s our superfood? Imagine all the time you’d save: You’d no longer have to read nutrition labels you secretly don’t understand, eat snacks that have no business being called one or cook meals that make your apartment smell like feet. Sigh.

The fact that it’s easier to understand our pet’s nutrition over our own is one of the many reasons we’re screwed when it comes to this healthy eating game. Here are some others:

1

There’s no one-size-fits-all healthy eating strategy — but subconsciously we act like there is (and it all started with that unhelpful food group chart in grade school). We all have different lifestyles, environments, stress levels and ways of coping, so it’s ridiculous to think there will ever be one answer for what constitutes healthy eating.

For example, most say salt is the devil, but because I have adrenal fatigue, I’m encouraged to include oodles of salt in my diet (one of the few benefits of being burnt out!). Many say eat fruit for breakfast, but when I do, I turn into a walking billboard for IBS. Nobody's right, but nobody's wrong either.

2

Food manufacturers aren’t out for your best interests. They’re out for your Prada wallet — or rather, what’s in it. They know you won’t buy a box of cereal that says “100 percent whole grain, but… ” so they print the rest of the ingredients in microscopic letters on the side.

3

Which brings us to the health foods that aren’t really healthy, yet are often shoved down our throats as such (and have been for decades): Bran muffins, pre-made smoothies, frozen yogurt, granola bars, dried fruit, even frozen diet meals, of all things!

Even your salad can become unhealthy. I once read about this apple pecan chicken salad thingie that was loaded with so much salt, fat and calories, you might as well eat a fast food burger. To make the salad "healthy," it was recommended to ix-nay the pecans and chicken to cut the sodium and fat (which I think is as close as you can come to eating air).

4

Many diet gurus are about as trustworthy as used-car salesmen. With some, it's hard to tell whether they're really out for your best interests or to sell you their food plans and supplements so they don’t starve.

5

Then, when you go to your doctor's office for guidance, they bust out that sad food chart from the early 1800s. Face, meet palm.

6

To top it off, it's like they're out to ruin a woman's three favorite things: coffee, wine and chocolate. Do you even know how to feel about them anymore? I sure don’t — unless the study about how they improve heart health cancels out the one about how they increase our risk of heart disease. It’s become so ridiculous there was actually a study done last year on contradictory studies. (For once, I'm serious.)

In a survey last year by the International Food Information Council, it was discovered that over half of Americans polled find it easier to do their taxes than eat healthy. (Womp, womp.) Doesn’t that say it all?

More on healthy eating

5 Simple tips for healthy eating on the go
Healthy eating tips: Beyond the calorie count
How to eat healthy when you dine out

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