It's never been more fashionable to be a healthy eating fanatic - just take the sky-rocketing sales of kale and non-dairy milks like soy and almond milk, and juice bars opening up on every corner. But are some 'health' foods actually not that good for you - and could they be making you more unhealthy or put on weight?
Nutritionional therapist Eve Kalinik gives us the low-down...
It's so popular, Beyonce wore it emblazoned across a sweater. But is Kale really all that? Eve argues, no.
"You may feel entirely virtuous chomping on these leaves but there is much more behind kale than meets the eye" Eve says.
"Of course they are one of the nutritious foods you can eat but here's the caveat...they are also one of the top hitters in terms of their pesticide/herbicide content if non-organic. And when eaten in their uncooked raw form, they can have goitregenic effects which means they can disrupt thyroid functioning"
So kale isn't evil, per se, but mind your intake and go organic: "When we over consume on things like green juice and raw kale salads this can be an issue. I would advise that you be mindful of how much you are having, better to lightly steam and where possible always buy organic."
- Flavoured Waters
Water? 'But water is one of the healthiest drinks around!' I hear you cry. Eve argues it's not pure filtered water that's the problem, it's those flavoured 'health promoting' waters you see in stores.
"They not only pull on your purse strings but also often have added sugars, sweeteners that have no nutritional benefit" Eve says. "Don't be fooled! Drink your water straight up with a slice of lemon or cucumber if you need flavour, and get from a pure osmosis filter or glass bottle where possible. Plastic water bottles are generally not good for our health or the environment. Head to pureh2o.co.uk for more info on clean water"
- Soy Milk
Once the go-to for those shunning dairy, Eve argues that soy milk "can have a lot more negative effects than its dairy counterparts".
"Firstly you need to make sure it doesn't have any added unhealthy ingredients but moreover that it's not made from GMO modified beans" she adds.
And watch out for the hormones. "Soy is also a natural phytoestrogen which means it can mimic the effects of estrogen in the body. Generally not good for anyone suffering with hormone conditions. And whilst you may be drinking soy because of digestive issues, it can actually cause similar symptoms in many people such as bloating and discomfort".
If you do want to keep throwing back those soy milk lattes, Eve recommends her clients drink those made with more traditional methods, like Bonsoy.
One of the most mis-marketed 'healthy' foods out there, Eve argues that a switch from your Crunchy Nut to granola in the morning is not really a healthier choice.
"Lots of people switch from their regular cereals to granola thinking its a healthier alternative but most often these granolas are laden with sugar, (natural and unnatural) and high levels of fat too," she reveals.
Eve recommends to make your own by drizzling 1 cup of natural nuts (your choice but I like a mix of almonds, cashews and pecans) and 1 cup oats with coconut oil, placing on a lined baking tray and cooking in the oven at 200C for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven, leave to cool and then combine with raw coconut chips and shake in a large jar to distribute evenly. You should have approx 250g. Serve with fresh rather than dried fruit for added sweetness and full fat or coconut yogurt.
"Many of my clients say that they opt for sushi at lunch as they believe it to be a healthier choice. In fact the sandwich sitting next to it may actually provide a more nutritious meal." Eve says.
But why is sushi so bad? "White rice typically has a high glycemic index which means like white bread it behaves almost like sugar in the bloodstream, spiking insulin levels, and it can be highly processed leaving no nutritional benefits" Eve reveals. "Sushi also contains little amounts of protein so does nothing to off set these effects. Added to that the sauces often added to sushi can be full of additives ".
But don't ditch sushi completely is you can't give up your Itsu habit, just be wary when you are buying that "you may be getting extra sugars, gluten and other things that may cause reactions".
And don't always immediately dismiss the sandwich. Eve says that "if it's made with grains such as rye, spelt, sourdough it could be a much cleaner option".
"The anti sugar movement has been a positive one for sure" Eve says. "But like a lot of things it can throw up alternatives that may in actual fact be just as bad. I'm talking about agave here, that is extracted from the cactus plant and has been heralded as the Saint of sweeteners. The problem is that most people are avoiding sugar on the basis that its highly refined when in fact this is exactly what you are getting with agave. Its also high in fructose that can be more detrimental in fact than regular sugar".
Unfortunately, there is no 'healthy' sweetener around, so Eve recommends instead eating naturally sweet foods such as seasonal fruits instead.
No, not your home-made soup you whizzed up at the weekend. Eve is talking about the shop bought versions "that can have all sorts of stabilisers, sugars and other additives thrown in". She advises to check the labels before buying, and try brands such as Souplogiefor convenience. Bets of course is to make soup yourself - try Eve's "fail safe spicy satay parsnip soup that ALL my clients love".