Dr. Mona Vand is a Certified Pharmacist, author (Food For Skin), and entrepreneur who loves to share her tips for leading a healthy lifestyle. She educates her audience through YouTube videos, a blog, and Instagram on maximizing health by taking care of both their bodies and minds through nutritional food recipes, clean beauty, and fitness tips focusing on natural solutions. Based in LA, Dr. Mona has been featured on NBC, The Telegraph, The Doctors and more.
One of the most frustrating things about the food industry is that it tricks people into thinking that they’re eating something healthy, natural, or clean when really, they’re not. After six years of pharmacy school, eight years of working as a pharmacist, and 10 years of personal experience in health, fitness, and wellness, I have researched and learned about how to look out for fake healthy foods. But I’m not here to tell you what to do—I hope that by sharing this information, you’ll be more aware of what you’re eating, and then you can make your own choice about whether or not you want to eat it!
1. Peanut Butter Powder (PB2)
For those of you who aren’t familiar with PB2, it’s basically a powdered peanut butter made by extracting natural oils out of the peanut and dehydrating what’s left, yielding a powder in which 90% of the fat is removed from the peanut. The nutritional profile of PB2 is, at first glance, amazing. For 2 TBSP, it’s got 45 calories, 1.5 grams of fat, 5 grams of carbs, 2 grams of fiber, 1 gram of sugar, and 5 grams of protein. But from a general overlook of the product, it’s not really healthy. First of all, it’s not organic, which is an issue here because peanuts are one of the most heavily sprayed crops. Basically, the amount of toxic pesticides that could be in the powder could cause toxins to build up in your body. Also, let’s just talk about peanut butter in general. Did you know that most products that include peanuts as an ingredient do not disclose the fact that there is mold present in the peanuts they use? In general, peanuts are highly susceptible to mold! Jungle peanuts are one of the only peanuts I know of that don’t produce toxins, but in other peanuts (including the ones used in PB2), there is mold that creates a carcinogen called aflatoxin. In the US, the FDA allows a certain amount of aflatoxin in our food system, but even though it’s approved in small doses, the fact that this powder could contain something that is a known carcinogen is enough to mark it as fake healthy.
Healthy substitute: raw almond or walnut butter! You’re still getting healthy fats, protein, and energy. Just without the toxins and mold.
2. “Light” Whole Wheat Bread
It can feel like it’s almost impossible to buy a loaf of bread at the store that’s actually healthy. I’ve gone up and down the bread section, and I always see added sugars, artificial colors, GMOs, dough conditioners (like azodicarbonamide, which is literally used as a cleaning chemical), and more. Do not buy a loaf of bread like Pepperidge Farm’s Light Style Whole Wheat bread and go home thinking it’s healthy, just because it’s 45 calories and only 9 carbs per slice. It is FILLED with unhealthy ingredients and is 100% fake healthy! Instead, go for something like Ezekiel Bread. I promise you, the quality of this bread—even though it’s higher in calories and carbs—will help you keep weight off better than the processed stuff! Whenever you choose clean ingredients, your body will react better and help you stay leaner (no chemicals, no additives, no bullsh*t).
3. Veggie Chips
Veggie chips are one of the biggest marketing tricks, and it actually kind of kills me when I see people eating these and thinking that they’re making a “smart” choice. I don’t mean to sound dramatic or patronizing, but it frustrates me when I see people who are making an effort to eat healthy getting fooled by fake healthy foods. So to break it down for you, a veggie chip is usually not much different than a regular potato chip. There are two ways brands can get around this: they can take a regular chip (a fried, oily, greasy chip), and then add just a smidge of beet powder, and voilà–it’s a veggie chip. The other way to get around this is by using sweet potatoes. Sweet potatoes are, by definition, a vegetable. So are white potatoes! They’re just starchy vegetables. So next time you’re snacking on veggie chips, read the ingredients on the back. Most of the time you’re still eating potatoes processed and fried in oils, so you’re still getting just as much fat and sodium as you would in a regular chip.
The better choice: Instead, I recommend finding true veggie chips. These are often in the healthier aisle of the grocery store (sometimes in the “raw” aisle). Look at the ingredients and make sure that they’re actually vegetables (green beans, beets, carrots, yams, etc).
Don’t get me wrong—oatmeal can be great for you. It’s heart-healthy—oats are a great source of both healthy carbs and fiber, they’re rich in antioxidants known to lower blood pressure, and they’re filled with other beneficial micronutrients. The tricky thing is knowing which kind of oatmeal does all of the above, and which is the kind that’s just fake healthy. The packaged oatmeal that comes pre-flavored is the culprit here, which is frustrating because when you go to a grocery store and look at the selection of oatmeal, the brand packaging and labeling makes it so difficult to map out which ones are clean and which aren’t. What you need to look out for are the ingredients on the back of the box (this is always what you should look out for on any food). So even if the box says “natural” or looks super clean, look for things like cane sugar, maple sugar, or natural flavors. The problem with these additives is you don’t know where they are sourced from. So something like “natural cinnamon flavor” is most likely not just cinnamon. There is a very easy solution to this—just buy PLAIN, unsweetened oatmeal. It can be a big sized package or the individual ones (the individual ones do come in handy for breakfast at work, etc.). Then, you can feel free to add healthy, natural sweeteners or spices yourself! That way, you’re in control of the amount and quality of ingredients you’re eating. This makes a huge difference! Using a little organic maple syrup or coconut nectar in your oatmeal is much, much, much better than eating packaged oatmeal with cane sugar and “nature maple flavor.” I personally like to get plain oats, then add cinnamon, nutmeg, stevia, and a little raw cacao. Then top with almond milk. It’s SO GOOD.
5. Most Packaged Juices/Smoothies
One of the easiest mistakes to make is thinking that you’re having a healthy, nutrient-filled juice or smoothie when really you’re basically drinking processed, sugary juice. Almost every single store-bought smoothie (even the freshly made ones) are filled with added sugar.
The one that REALLY gets me is the Naked Juice “Green Machine.” When you read this, you assume you’re drinking a green smoothie/green juice. But if you look at the ingredients, there is a LOT of fruit juice and “natural flavors.” Here are the ingredients: apple juice, mango puree, pineapple juice, banana puree, kiwi puree, spirulina, natural flavors, alfalfa, broccoli, spinach, barley grass, wheatgrass, ginger root, parsley, kale, odorless garlic. At first glance, these ingredients may seem harmless, but there’s literally 53g of sugar in this “green machine.” The American Heart Association recommends no more than 25 grams of added sugar a day for women and 38 grams for men. So in this “healthy” green juice, you’ve gotten double your daily amount. Yikes. As a healthy alternative, have a piece of fruit and/or an organic, cold-pressed green juice.
While we’re at it, let me mention one more. A while ago I was drinking a juice from BluePrint. I specifically sought out this exact juice because it’s organic, and there are only greens in the juice (I prefer all greens in my juice, and fruit + greens in my smoothies). So I bought like four of them to hold me over for a few days, and when I got home, I looked on the back and noticed the ingredients: organic cucumber juice, water, organic kale juice, organic celery juice, organic lemon juice, organic spinach juice, organic watercress juice, natural peppermint flavor. 74% juice. Here’s the thing—if you’re going to drink a green juice, drink an actual pure, organic, natural green juice. Don’t drink one that’s watered down and that has flavor added! The whole point of drinking green juice is to get the amazing health benefits from greens. Either go all in, or don’t bother. Even brands that are organic and cold-pressed find ways to trick you so they can make more money. They water down their juice and then add peppermint flavor so you won’t taste the difference. Also, I personally think the peppermint flavor is overbearing. I’d prefer fresh mint leaves, please.
Healthy option: aside from blending the drink yourself, go to a juice shop or smoothie shop where they make it in front of you. More importantly—learn to look beyond (far beyond) the label, font, and claims on the front of a juice. Just look at the ingredients on the back, and choose one that has nothing but the organic fruits and greens you want.
6. “Healthy” Nut Butters
If you follow me on Instagram or YouTube, you know I love nut butters. However, nut butters become fake healthy when brands add a bunch of unnecessary ingredients that will cause bloating and unwanted weight gain. Let’s take the brand Earth Balance, for example. The label on the front says “natural peanut butter and flaxseed.” That sounds amazing. But then you flip it over, and all of a sudden you see ingredients like “peanut oil, agave syrup, palm fruit oil, and salt.” I mean, peanuts are already filled with natural oils, so why do they feel the need to add peanut oil and palm fruit oil? Always look for nut butters that have no added sugar—there is literally no need to add agave to peanut butter. (Agave also has more fructose than high fructose corn syrup, and heads straight to the liver. It’s just as bad as cane sugar. More on that in the following section.)
Better option: raw, unroasted, unsalted nut butters. I recommend raw, because when you roast almonds, walnuts, or any nut, they lose some of their nutrients. Raw is easier to digest and better for you. I personally love Artisana and MaraNatha. Still, check the label, as these brands often make different variations (some MaraNatha products are not raw, while others are).
In the past couple years, there have been so many new sugar alternatives. We have coconut sugar, stevia, monk fruit, agave, and many more. But the one I want to single out is agave. Sugar, in general, should be avoided (and I think most of us know that), but I have a problem with agave companies that try to brand their product as a “healthy” and “all-natural” sugar alternative, when the heating process of turning an agave plant into a syrup actually destroys any nutritional benefits, and we’re left with a glorified sugar syrup that has more fructose than high fructose corn syrup. When a product, like agave, is high in fructose, that means it’s high in a sugar that our body is not able to properly process. Because we can’t process it, it ends up being metabolized to fat (which is why it can cause weight gain, high blood pressure, and can even contribute to Type-II Diabetes). Agave companies have labeled and branded themselves so well that most people would pick agave up at the store and think they’re making a healthy choice, but this is just another fake healthy food that everyone should be aware of! Agave is no better than regular old sugar. If you want a cleaner option, use coconut nectar or stevia drops—a little goes a long way with them, and they will not spike your blood sugar levels or be stored as fat.
Images: Amazon (5); Shutterstock (3)
What greater holiday is there than a day that celebrates the strong, beautiful women who raised us? Go ahead, try to think of one, I’ll wait. 4th of July you say? Okay. Anyway, Mother’s Day really does serve as a reminder that we should be really really nice to all the moms in our lives because we too may be mothers some day and we don’t want a bitchy daughter who doesn’t appreciate us. So it’s good karma to get them a gift, right? A betch’s mom is the most important lady in her life. She’s given us endless words of wisdom on fuckboys, she’s reluctantly allowed us to borrow steal her clothes, and she always picked us up from school when we were feeling “sick”. She’s molded us into the betch we are today, and for that we are forever grateful. To show her how much you love her, we’re giving you a list of all our favorite brands/gift ideas that are perfect for every type of mom in your life. Welcome to the Betches Mother’s Day Gift Guide 2017.
FOR THE MOM WHO STILL GRABS CANDY FOR HERSELF AT THE CHECKOUT COUNTER
Hats off to this mom, she still answers to her sugar cravings and DGAF. Elevate her candy standards with Sugarfina’s Sweetest Mom Candy Bento Box and watch it disappear within 20 minutes of her opening it. If she’s into the juicing craze like any betchy mom, feel free to gift her a bottle of Pressed Juicery x Sugarfina’s green juice gummy bears. It’s the perfect candy she can eat while convincing herself that she’s healthy AF. These are the chicest and yummiest candies ever, and I’m sure this mom won’t mind if you steal a few for yourself…maybe…
FOR THE ZEN AF MOM YOU CAN ALWAYS VENT TO
This mom is amazing because she has the patience to listen to us talk shit about irrelevant shit for hours and somehow make us feel 10 times better in the end. Philosophy is a fave brand of ours, not just because of their amazing products, but also because of their values. It’s the wellness brand version of the mom who always sends you inspirational articles and makes sure you never leave the house without food in your stomach. To reward this woman for putting up with your crazy ass, give her the Moments of Grace box—the perfect set of shower, fragrance, and moisturizing products.
FOR THE MOM WHO KNOWS HOW TO MAKE A HOUSE A HOME (AND WON’T LET YOU EAT ON THE COUCH)
This mom might have come off as a little strict and slightly neurotic due to her strict house rules you lived under as a young betch, but you now understand it was all worth it for the image of a perfect home. She’s classy, she’s elegant, and she’s not afraid to tell you to fuck off when you deserve it. Giving her a Venus Et Fleur box is not just giving her cliché flowers for Mother’s Day, it’s giving her a centerpiece for her precious home. These are the most beautiful flowers and they last for an entire year. There are several colors to choose from so you can def find one to match the living room couch. PS, they’re having a pop-up shop at Saks specifically for Mother’s Day, so go with your siblings and get her the most Instagrammable flowers ever.
FOR THE MOM WHO WANTS TO BE INA GARTEN’S BEST FRIEND
This mom spends half her life watching the Food Network and the other half begging her husband to agree to redoing the kitchen. As such, she takes great pride in all her kitchen essentials, and each time you come home there’s a new blender or toaster. Although you have barely any space for a wooden spoon in your apartment’s kitchen and deem it acceptable to microwave water for your tea, this mom would rather be caught dead than without at least 25 different spatula options. Cuisinart is the perfect place to find the best and newest kitchen products that this mom will die over, like the QuicKettle and the PrepExpress. If you get her any of their products, I foresee massive amounts of free food in your future.
FOR THE MOM WHO’S NOT AFRAID TO BLACK OUT AT FAMILY DINNERS
This mom is always invited to hang with you and your friends whenever she’s in town. As a betch who can single-handedly create a party out of thin air, her Mother’s Day gift needs to suit her hostess needs. Kim Crawford Wine is the perfect bottle to whip out on any given occasion, and with summer around the corner, it is officially rosé season. Their website has tons of amazing recipes, including frosé, so…this mom will def exploit a bottle of Kim Crawford rosé for all it’s worth. If she also happens to be an Insta whore, we’re sorry in advance.
FOR THE MOM WHO GIFTED YOU YOUR WITTY SENSE OF HUMOR
This mom has passed on her good genes of having no filter and always has the entire family in tears at Thanksgiving dinner (like, the good kind). We were always afraid of what kind of backhanded bitchy comment she might make at our frenemies when we were younger, but we loved her anyway and secretly enjoyed it. If she’s begging you not to get her anything this year, at least get her the perfect card from Shop Betches.
FOR THE MOM WHO’S PUTTING OFF BOTOX FOR AS LONG AS POSSIBLE
This mom has had perfect skin her entire life and is now in overdrive doing everything she can to keep it that way. Washing her face isn’t just something she does a couple times a day, it’s now an insane obsession. To make sure this mom is getting the most out of her incessant face cleansing, get her the Soniclear brush from Michael Todd Beauty. The antimicrobial brush stays cleaner and fresher for longer, and cleans deep into your pores. Let’s be real, you’re probs going to get one for yourself as well. Also, since she’s probs big into blending, you should get her the Sonicblend brush to apply her makeup flawlessly.
FOR THE MOM WHO WON’T LET YOU ANYWHERE NEAR HER KITCHEN
This mom has a panic attack whenever there’s too many people in the kitchen (which for the most part means if there’s anyone in there besides her). She’s a firm believer in “a place for everything and everything in its place”, which as a betch you can only relate to on the level of your apartment’s bar cart. Joseph Joseph has the perfect modern organizational kitchen shit that will perfectly encourage this mom’s obsessive compulsive habits, but at least the kitchen will look sleek AF so who cares. We love their Nesting Bowl Sets and their super chic Worktop Savers.
FOR THE MOM WHO ALWAYS FALLS ASLEEP WITH HER IPAD ON HER FACE
This mom can’t get enough of her Facebook feed and loves to send you videos of dogs at all hours of the night. She probably thinks she’s squinting at all her screens because she’s old, but really it’s because no one’s eyes should not be staring at this shit all day. Felix Gray glasses are v trendy-looking and protect your eyes from the blue light emitted from all our electronics’ screens, so mom won’t have to fight through the headaches to continue scrolling through Insta anymore. Our office’s fan favorites are the Turing and Nash frames.
FOR THE MOM WHO JUICED BEFORE IT WAS COOL
This mom has been a juice drinking yoga freak since before you were born, and she’s always looking for new ways to show the world that she’s healthier and has more of her shit together than anyone else. Daily Harvest delivers fresh soups, smoothies, chia parfaits and overnight oats to your door on your schedule. This way, mom can get her fav smoothies delivered at 3pm just in time for her to consume before her 5pm spin class. If you didn’t think eating healthy could be convenient, neither did we, but here we are.
FOR THE MOM WHO HAS EVERYTHING YOU NEVER KNEW YOU NEEDED
This mom may seem like a hoarder, but in reality she’s just a collector of random shit that will impress people. Totally different. Also, we are not ones to talk about hoarding as evidenced by our closets. Anyway, Tovolo is the perfect place to shop for this mom because while it’s super fun for us to look through all the fun kitchen gadgets they have, it will be that much more fun for her because she’ll know exactly what to do with whatever you get her. “OMG, skull ice molds?! This will be perfect for Debbie’s divorce party!” We love their Clear Ice System and Stainless Steel Cocktail Shaker.
FOR THE MOM WHO ALWAYS LOSES SHIT
As a young mom, this one relied on her children to remind her of her dentist appointments or whenever she accidentally left the stove on. Though she’s the most scatter-brained person you know, she’s so lovable you’ve never (really) faulted her for it. Plus, her lack of having her shit together taught you how to be a proactive, multitasking betch. To make this mom’s life a little easier as her brain is only getting worse with age (sorry but it’s true), get her Tile for Mother’s Day so you never have to get another phone call about her missing keys again. All she has to do is attach the little Tile to whatever it is she loses every day and connect it to her phone through Bluetooth and voilà, when she needs to find either thing she can make ‘em ring (I did not do that on purpose but I apologize).
FOR THE MOM WHO REALLY WANTS TO LOSE 3 POUNDS BUT HATES THE GYM
This mom might sound very familiar because she is all of us. She would much rather spend an hour at book club talking shit than hitting the gym, but the thought of showing up to Southampton for the summer in her current state is freaking her out. Do her a favor and buy her HUM Nutrition’s Skinny Bird, a natural weight loss supplement. If you’re feeling really generous, they also have a “Turn Back Time” supplement that helps with skin cell protection. Time to pop some pills!
FOR THE BRAND NEW MOM
This mom has been MIA because she is now with child and a real human and also struggling to get more than 4 hours of sleep at night. Brighten up her day by getting her little Betch In Training a baby onesie from Shop Betches.
FOR THE MOM WHO IS ALWAYS ON THE GO
This mom has always been your business betch inspiration, as you’ve admired her for balancing her work and home life so well. Despite being super important at her company, she somehow found the time to proofread all your high school papers and prepped you for every job interview you’ve ever had. Soap & Glory is the perfect cheeky and empowering cosmetic brand that this mom absolutely NEEDS in her life. Since she’s always running from mandatory family breakfast to business meeting, get her some of our favorites like their Rushower Dry Shampoo and their Hand Food hydrating hand cream.
FOR THE MOM WHO ALWAYS KEEPS IT SIMPLE
This mom is a woman of few words, but always knows what to say. You can find her in the yoga studio in the morning and hosting a charity dinner party by night. She’s the one who taught you that doing things for others is like, important. Not one for flashy things but a lover of the arts, this mom would love a piece from Adam Marc Jewelry. Our favorite pieces are the Kim Star Choker and the Rafaeli 14k Gold Bar Necklace. Use code BETCHES20 for 20% off—your mom will never have to know you didn’t pay full price.
When it comes to throwing shade, we’re obv on board. Being able to secretly be a bitch or hate someone without them knowing is like, the rules of feminism. But when it comes to our food choices being shadily unhealthy and betraying our trust, it’s not cute. So we’re here to tell you which foods have been lying to you and masquerading as health foods when they’re secretly junk food (or really, not-so-secretly since it’s on the nutrition label).
“Not all yogurts!” you scream at your computer. Fine, bitch, but understand that pretty much almost all flavored yogurts (or the ones with those super cute flippy lids) are FULL OF SUGAR. Not just like “oh I’m cheating and having a jelly bean teehee!” amounts of sugar. We’re talking full blown this-is-your-sugar-intake-limit-for-the-day amounts. You best be opting for full-fat unflavored Greek yogurt if you need a fix. Top it with whatever you want —shit, add 3 tablespoons of sugar to it and you’ll essentially have one of those fucking Chobani flips.
2. Caesar Salad
A question we often ask ourselves: “If it contains bread and cheese, is it still a salad?” The answer is yes, but just because something fits a definition, it doesn’t mean it belongs in and around your mouth. This ESPECIALLY applies to a Caesar fucking salad. On every menu literally everywhere and ALWAYS seemingly a safe choice, the average Caesar salad includes creamy dressing, a lot of cheese, and bread baked in a concoction of more cheese and oil. Look at the facts: The Caesar salad was created in Tijuana, tequila shot capitol of the world, because the kitchen ran out of normal shit and Mr. Caesar (literally his name) needed to serve some Hollywood bitches SOMETHING. Also, it was a finger food, which INSTANTLY ranks it on our list of unhealthy shit. Mozzarella sticks, chicken wings, pizza rolls—I think I’ve made my point. Aside from celery sticks, almost NOTHING you can hold and eat is under 500 calories. Next.
Sprinkling granola on your Greek yogurt parfait makes you feel skinny and chic, but you wouldn’t feel so adorable if you knew that most granolas are full of sugar and fat. How? Because that’s literally how they’re made. You take oats or some other fucking grain you find in bulk at whole foods, mix it with fair trade, organic, non-animal-endangering sugar, butter or honey, nuts, and bake it. Yeah. Let that sink in. That shit is practically candy. Same goes for granola bars, which require EVEN MORE sugar and sticky shit so they can be formed into the perfect rectangle. Don’t buy into your hippie liberal douche friend’s hype: Granola is not healthy.
“Breakfast is the most important meal of the day”—not if you’re scarfing down chocolate sugar puffs in a sea of fat-laden milk. Honestly, if you MUST have cereal, we require you either a) be hungover; b) are eating Cinnamon Toast Crunch —the only acceptable cereal; or c) are a child under the age of 9. None of those are health reasons, but unless you’re eating GrapeNuts, you’re popping calories like pills anyway. Slather some sad butter on your sad toast or squint at the sourness of a grapefruit and accept adulthood.
This shouldn’t come as a fucking surprise, but potatoes suck. Honestly, how are they even considered a vegetable? Based on the US’s ability to name pizza a vegetable and vote a literal human Cheeto into office, I guess we shouldn’t be surprised, but still. Regular white potatoes have like, literally no health benefits. If you MUST partake in a potato, make it a sweet potato. At least you can pass off the carby starch mine with vitamin benefits.
You come to work sippin’ on your green smoothie and, having just come from cycling class, you’re officially allowed to look down on everyone else. Too bad, so sad—that shit is full of fat. Despite having a fuckload of fruit, those same fruit juices host tons of calories and sugar and no fucking fiber. Plus, your smoothie probably has DING DING DING YOGURT to help fill you up. Do us a favor: go buy a Vitamix and blend a smoothie made of spinach, avocado, and green grapes. Thin it with water. Then, you’ll have a borderline healthy smoothie. Will it taste good? Um, no, but healthy shit usually doesn’t.
7. Diet Soda
Feel free to crucify me in the comments, but if you’re still drinking soda—diet or not—you’ll probs get fat and/or cancer, we assume. IT ISN’T GOOD FOR YOU. Start drinking fizzy water instead. We know it’s harder than weaning yourself off drugs (probably), but, really, your skin, thighs, and overall health will thank you.
8. Dried Fruit
Whether you’re trying to get un-hooked from jelly beans or need help pooping, dry fruit always seems like a healthy option. NOT FUCKING TRUE. A handful of dried banana chips or dried cranberries have the same amount of sugar as a lot of candy. So, like, you may as well just eat the jelly beans. Or, buy a dehydrator and make your own dried fruit, sans added sugars.