Lisa Dunbar's Health Hacks: The "health" foods you should avoid

Lisa Dunbar


Lisa Dunbar


Lisa Dunbar

Lisa Dunbar provides some advice on so called health foods

There’s an often-used quote in the world of nutrition that goes something like this “If there is an aisle dedicated to health food, what does that say about everything else in the supermarket?”. It’s supposed to hint that the vast majority of food being sold to us is not good for us. However, the quote doesn’t really make sense when you consider that the healthiest of all foods (veggies!) are not in the health food aisle, and that actually, some of the unhealthiest foods you could find are lurking among the so-called “health foods”. Here are a few things you should beware of when shopping in the health food aisle:

1 – Gluten-Free Anything 

Lots of people are going gluten-free because they believe it to be healthier for them, but many gluten-free products such as breads, cakes, etc are some of THE unhealthiest foods you could find, with a laundry list of unpronounceable ingredients! “Gluten free” does not automatically mean “healthy”, it simply means there is no gluten in the food. What’s more important is what IS in the food!

2 – Flavoured Nuts

Nuts are a really nutritious food, an important part of a healthy diet, but I’m talking about regular, plain old nuts! Most health food aisles are filled with things like “salted” or “honey roasted” nuts which can end up turning your bag of nutritious nuts into something more along the lines of a packet of crisps or sweets! So, when it comes to nuts, always choose plain varieties!

3 – Chocolate/Yoghurt Rice Cakes

Rice cakes are a great wee cracker for putting other nutritious foods on top of! However, more recently, lots of pimped-up versions with chocolate and yoghurt have arrived in the health food section. Most of them have the same amount of sugar as a chocolate biscuit…so why not just have a chocolate biscuit!

4 – Organic Stuff

Whatever your reasons are for choosing organic, don’t assume that “organic” automatically means “healthy”. Organic means that the food has been produced using methods that comply with organic farming practices, for example without the use of chemical pesticides or fertilisers, which is great, but chemical substances are not the only things in food that can affect our health. Your body reacts to the sugar in an organic cake in exactly the same way as it reacts to the sugar in a non-organic cake! 

Lisa is a Nutrition and Health Coach based in Dundalk. Having used diet and lifestyle changes to help recover from physical and mental health challenges, Lisa is now on a mission to motivate others to live a healthier life. See: or follow Lisa at: This article also appears in the print edition of this week's Dundalk Democrat.