Healthy or not? Pinterest lies and other foolish things.

Healthy or not? Pinterest lies and other foolish things.

“Healthy or not? Pinterest lies and other foolish thing…”  Wow, how’s that for a title? You may be thinking that I’m about to bash Pinterest. But I’m not. In fact, if you are on Pinterest you should follow me. I love it. It’s so nice to have a place to store awesome recipes, natural care products, and other random things that you never knew you should know until someone else “pinned” it.

But with all it’s goodness, I definitely have my days where I get annoyed at this social media. I’ve already stepped on my soap box about the unhealthy “motivation” boards. I hope you’ll indulge me for a moment. Today I want to play a little game. We’ll call it: Is it healthy or not? It’s a simple game:

If a pin says it’s “healthy” is it really?

Want to play? Good!

Is it healthy or not?

Note: Because I think most people behind these pins are good people with good intentions, I have refrained from linking to any actual pins, or using anyone’s beloved images. I’m going for general ideas here. I’ve done my best to recreate the images for your viewing pleasure. This is a game AND a learning experience. Awesome!

Healthy or not? Don't believe everything you see on Pinterest. This is NOT healthy.

1. Cake mix plus fat free yogurt

The caption:  “Cake Mix + Fat-Free Greek Yogurt = 180 calories per serving. Never baking with eggs and oil again!”

Is it healthy or not?

The problem: I get it. People still think fat is bad. (*head smack*). Never mind the fact that 60% of your brain is fat. Never mind that fat is essential for the absorption of fat soluble vitamins (you know, like A, D, E, and K). And yes, if food were just about energy, 180 calories would be okay… I guess. (hint: food is not about calories!).

This pin has one good thing going for it: Taking out rancid vegetable oils is always a great idea. But that’s about it.

The bottom line: It’s a cake mix, guys! It comes from a box! It’s full of stuff your body doesn’t know what to do with. What kind of stuff? Check out the ingredient list:

Sugar, Enriched Bleached Wheat Flour (Flour, Niacin, Reduced Iron, Thiamine Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Folic Acid), Vegetable Oil Shortening (Partially Hydrogenated Soybean Oil, Propylene Glycol Mono- and Diesters Of Fats, Monoand Diglycerides), Leavening (Sodium Bicarbonate, Dicalcium Phosphate, Sodium Aluminum Phosphat E, Monocalcium Phosphate). Contains 2% Or Less Of: Wheat Starch, Salt, Dextrose, Polyglycerol Esters Of Fatty Acids, Partially Hydrogenated Soybean Oil, Cellulose Gum, Artificial Flavors, Xanthan Gum, Maltodextrin, Modified Cornstarch, Colored with (Yellow 5 Lake, Red 40 Lake).

Take away the cake mix and what do you have? Oh yes, fat free yogurt. You know, yogurt isn’t naturally fat-free. So fat-free yogurt is… well, unnatural. I mean, consider the bad news that comes from producing skim milk.

So ultimately, this claim for a “healthy” version of a cake is down right wrong. You’ve taken away the only nourishing ingredient (the eggs) and are left with a completely unnatural food-like product. Eat it if you like, but trust me it’s not healthy.

Is it healthy or not?
Verdict: NOT.

Healthy or not? Dawn dish soap is not natural... even if it's added to your homemade stuff.

2. All “natural” homemade cleaners using Dawn dish soap

The caption: “All purpose cleaner with dawn, vinegar and other natural ingredients”

Is it healthy or not?

The problem: Making your own homemade products is all the rage. And I think it’s awesome. It’s about time we learned that we can make our own stuff that is way cheaper and more environmentally friendly. But I keep seeing all sorts of pins that claim to be “natural” but that still use Dawn dish soap (or its equivalent) as one of the ingredients. Uh? Is this confusing to anyone else?

Check out the listed ingredients of this stuff.

water, sodium lauryl sulfate, sodium pareth-23, sulfate C-12-14-16, dimethyl amine oxide, SD alcohol, undeceth-9, propylene glycol, cyclohexandiamine, polyacetate, protease, fragrance, FD&C blue, no phosphate

And guess what? That’s not all of it. The other unlisted ingredients are confidential. You know what things are usually kept “confidential”? Top-secret-uber-super-duper chemicals, that’s what. That or stuff they don’t want people know is in there. But even if the confidential ingredients are nothing more than water, the stuff listed above is enough for me to know this isn’t natural.

The bottom line: Stick to the basics when it comes to green cleaning. (This is also true for things using chlorine bleach.) Doing just a little bit of homework can result in effective cleaners that are better for you, the planet, and your wallet.

Is it healthy or not?
Verdict: NOT.

Healthy or not? Using dryer sheets around the house is not healthy.

3. A multitude of dryer sheets uses

The caption: “Dryer sheets to clean the iron!” …or… “Dryer sheets to clean baseboards!” …or… “Dryer sheets to clean the toilet!” …or… “Dryer sheets to clean your pans!” etc.

Is it healthy or not?

Is it healthy or not? Pinterest lies and other foolish things. Yessss.The problem: Maybe you are unaware of the fact that dryer sheets and fabric softeners are some of the most toxic stuff found in homes. Just as a reminder, here are just some of the chemicals founds in these things:

  • Benzyl acetate: Linked to pancreatic cancer
  • Benzyl Alcohol: Upper respiratory tract irritant
  • Ethanol: On the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Hazardous Waste list and can cause central nervous system disorders
  • A-Terpineol: Can cause respiratory problems, including fatal edema, and central nervous system damage
  • Ethyl Acetate: A narcotic on the EPA’s Hazardous Waste list
  • Camphor: Causes central nervous system disorders
  • Chloroform: Neurotoxic, anesthetic and carcinogenic
  • Linalool: A narcotic that causes central nervous system disorders
  • Pentane: A chemical known to be harmful if inhaled

And I’m using this stuff to clean my pans!? Yikes!

The bottom line: People love a good gimmick  and they love it when something so simple seems to make their life easier. But dealing with the chemical warfare from dryer sheets is really not going to make your life easier. Hopefully you won’t use fabric sheets to clean anything… even better, ditch them entirely!

Is it healthy or not?
Verdict: NOT.

Want to know if something is healthy or not? Some Pinterest guidelines.

I can’t cover all the foolish things that might be swimming around Pinterest. But there are some general guidelines to help you master the art of truly healthy pinning.

  • If something claims to be healthy because it only has a certain number of calories, be cautious. Remember: Food is more than calories.
  • If a recipe says it only has three ingredients, but one of those ingredients is a cake mix, candy bar, or other processed food don’t believe the hype. It is a LIE. The truth is that you will be eating something with more like 30+ ingredients.
  • If something claims to be natural and then goes on to use a commercial and chemically laden product, look elsewhere.
  • If something tries to villainize butter, fat, eggs, or other traditional foods that have helped generations thrive… send them to me. :)
Tell me, what other Pinterest lies have you seen? Share in the comments!



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About the author

Hi! I'm and I’m passionate about healthy living: feeling nourished, having energy, getting good sleep, and feeling strong. I believe healthy living does not have to be complicated or stressful. I’m a Registered Somatic Movement Therapist (RSMT) and a Certified Laban/Bartenieff Movement Analyst (CLMA). I’m also an avid researcher and love to read about nutrition, the body, and toxic-free living. Learn more.

View all articles by Robin Konie


    1. Post author

      Ha ha… not sure what I’ll do with them… Maybe just force feed them some butter.

  1. Real Food Eater

    AMEN!!! This sort of stuff drives me nuts. I have to use self-control not to comment on all of these crazy recipe pins. No offense to weight watchers’ folks, but when people post recipes of things like you mentioned (a tub of yogurt or even pumpkin plus a box of cake mix) equaling only “1 point” – like it’s healthy or something. THANK YOU for posting this!!!

    1. Post author

      I know. It’s so tempting to commenting on all the ones I see… but I’m afraid I wouldn’t be very nice. 😉

  2. Gudrun B

    Great writing! i think this is the reason why i am not on pinterest! just more things i get sleepless nights from :) how “non-thinking” can human kind get?
    Kudos to all you young folks out there who ARE thinking and speaking up!!!

  3. Nicole

    I like your post! I love pinterest, but I too have come across some questionable “healthy” pins. All of the cake mix & pudding mix in recipes drives me nuts :)

    1. Post author

      It’s true. That word “natural” is a tricky one these days, right?

      (Also, love the idea of green thickies!)

  4. Chandra

    Personal recent favorite: “Soak your apple slices in lemon-lime sodapop so they don’t turn brown! Just like the pre-packaged apple slices sold in stores, but CHEEP!”

    So … make yourself a “healthy snack” using high-fructose corn syrup and unspecified “natural flavors.” Thank you, no. If I want apple slices for my snack, I’ll just take an actual apple with me. (I’m so ridiculously old fashioned that I still carry a pocketknife. gasp.) Even if I was packing them for a kid at school, I am having trouble seeing how lemon-lime sodapop has any health, convenience, or financial advantage over lemon juice. Am I missing something?

    I agree with everyone who said they have to virtually “bite their tongue” to keep from commenting on all these posts.

    1. Melissa

      Or the grapes dipped in jell-o powder to give them a fun sour taste,uhhh what? If something natural needs to be altered with a fake flavor, something is very wrong!!

    2. Barbara Johnson

      I’m going to guess that they suggest the soda because people who don’t eat right to begin with probably have lots of soda…and no lemons or lemon juice. Maybe the apple itself makes them feel healthy! Peace!!!!

      1. Post author

        A good point, Barbara. We never know where others are on their path toward health. Baby steps, right? :)

  5. Mindy

    Thank you! I too love pinterest but am saddened by the way people unknowingly spread negative ideas about food, weight and health.

    At best these recipes are “less unhealthy”. And don’t even get me started on the “nothing tastes as good as skinny feels”. As if enjoying food in and of itself is unhealthy. Or that skinny is the only acceptable and healthy way to be… whoops I guess I did get started :)

    1. Post author

      Ha ha! Yeah, I totally agree. I hate those sayings, too. They just perpetuate an image-obsessed idea of healthy instead of realizing that true health comes from the inside out (and in many sizes). And guess what? Ice cream is pretty much better than “skinny.” :)

  6. Melissa

    I don’t trust most things that are pre-made. I like to make stuff from scratch from th basic items. Cake mix scares Me!! My Mother is all about the quick and easy mixes and frozen dinners, to each their own. But one day, she wanted for Me to make hr a cake and had bought a cake mix and a tub of frosting (AAAAH!!) I simply told her if she wants a cake, I’ll make one from scratch because the thought of making a boxed cake goes against every fiber of My being. Then, I showed her the scary ingredients list on it and it’s very possibly that I got through to her on some basic level.

    1. Post author

      Awesome! That’s probably one of my biggest anxieties: teaching my kids to eat real food when the rest of the world shouts “processed is best!” Although, I don’t think it will be as bad since that is all she’s every known. We’ll see. :)

    2. Rachel Blackett

      TBH I don’t see how people can even stand pre mixed/made/frozen food/meals! I can’t STAND them! I would much make it myself, make double or triple the amount and freeze it for a busy day. I made a pre mixed cake for my daughter for her 2nd birthday (Only Because after 2 failed attempts at white cake I ran out of time) And it was OKAY not great though, best I have had in those pre mixes though, I have tried a few of the others and they are sooooooooo dry!!! or have a funny flavor to them. And don’t even get me STARTED on the frozen meals!

      Much much rather it fresh!

  7. Rebecca

    Thank you for posting the ingredients to Dawn dishwashing liquid. I can’t find them anywhere on my bottle that I keep under my sink. I recently found a post somewhere (maybe even on here) that teaches how to make homemade dishwashing liquid, and I am going to make that and replace my Dawn. My sister in law used to make a dishwashing detergent recipe that had DAwn in the ingredients and tried to get me to try it but I didn’t want to. I want to make homemade recipes to make my household healthier and less toxic, many people want to make homemade things to save money, so we are on different wavelengths.

    1. Post author

      You’re welcome, Rebecca! It’s true, different reasons for the homemade range. But if you can save money AND be less toxic, isn’t that a win win? :)

  8. Karen

    This is awesome information. Thanks for sharing. I wonder how anyone justifies something made with cake mix to be healthy, and I also couldn’t figure out how cleaner made with commercial dish soap was natural. I think it’s important to keep spreading the word. I’m following you on Pinterest now!

  9. kristy @ gastronomical sovereignty

    great post. fun and educational :)

    i think the key is to get away from “healthy” language. by terming something “healthy” we’ve banished fat and calories and the only compulsory criteria for something to be healthy is that it doesn’t make us “fat”… we need to start using new words. Is it holistic? Is it real? Is it whole? Could you make it yourself at home? If the answers are yes – then use/eat/make it. If not, then don’t.

    thank you for sharing your post with us at the Wednesday Fresh Foods Link Up! I hope we’ll see you again this week with more amazing seasonal & real food posts. xo, kristy.

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  11. Ellen

    Awesome post. I have never really made my own stuff. But I have repinned some of these pins. I will have to go back and re-look at some of those. Thanks.

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  13. Ilona

    How recogniseable!

    How i hate to see diy cleaningstuf containing borax and then call it ” biodegradable”
    Borax is not, so when you use it thats your choice, Just dont call it something its not!


        1. Rachel

          Thank you! By the way, I L-O-V-E your blog! I’m a beginner in “real living” (not sure what to call it) and your articles have tremendously helped (love the ones about real fats and butter!). It’s really sad what society calls food nowadays.

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  15. Barbara Johnson

    I’m new to your blog (actually it’s the only blog I read). It’s so nice to hear your truths about food and healthy living. I’m a mom of 2 adult children and a grandma of 4 young boys. I try to live as simply as I can. Guess I’m lucky I haven’t run into the lies on Pinterest….but they couldn’t get past me anyway. Such nonsense from some people!!! I remember when margarine was all the rage…”healthier than butter” they said. But I knew a dairy farmer who set me straight on that! (We moved to the Catskill mountains 24 years ago from Brooklyn, NY). Anyone will try to sell what is not good for you….just to make a buck. It’s smart people, like us here :-) who need to educate those who fall for the lies of “healthy”, “convenient”, “improved”, and so on. I know people (especially working moms) are busy (I remember), and sometimes “convenient” means an extra hour to help the kids with homework, do housework, or just sleep….but, what can’t be done by one, can be done by many. I would suggest that people get together for cooking, sharing, and storing meals. It would save money and time. (Ugh….I’m rambling.) Anyway, love your blog!!! (Yes, I’ve pinned you.)

    1. Post author

      Awesome, ideas! I love the idea of sharing and storing meals. So smart. I really think it’s a shame that, along with so many bad food options, we have lost that sense of community that used to exist. I think moms (and dads) could use some more support.

      Thanks for stopping by! So glad you added to the discussion. :)

  16. Shel

    The apple slices soaked in pop is the pin that drives me crazy. I use the Dawn and vinegar cleaner for most areas of my house, but replace the Dawn with my green, biodegradable dish soap.

    I completely agree with the comment above, there’s a big difference between DIY to save money vs DIY for your health

    1. Post author

      Definitely. Too bad more people don’t realize that DIY for your health usually does still save you money, too. :)

  17. Elizabeth Ann

    Love this post so much! I find it so interesting when I see PALEO recipes and they have cheese on them . . or breadcrumbs. . . Thanks so much for linking up to our linky party!

  18. Robin P

    Thank you. We are at the beginning stages of trying to live more naturally/real. I make my own yogurt, granola, peanut butter, laundry detergent, etc. I’m planning on making your fruit snacks, after my toddler fell in love with the store bought kind. Hoping to pick strawberries this weekend to make some along with jam. I’m going to check out your homemade dish detergent, since the one I made did not work so I went back to store bought :(

    1. Post author

      Thanks, Robin! Love the name, bytheway. 😉 If your son is used to the really sweet store bought ones, I’d go with orange juice over lemon. Some people think the lemon juice is too sour. I personally love it, but just a heads up. :)

    1. Post author

      I’ve used vinegar, dryer balls, and salt (not together… but those are all options). Now I just dry my cloths on low and they are soft and have no static cling.

  19. Rachel

    So glad I found your site! If I had a nickel for every time I had to go “ahem, please don’t insult butter and eggs, they are my close personal friends,” I’d be a millionaire. Plus, I totally agree with your entire article and find myself thinking all these things EVERY TIME I am on Pinterest. Bless you.

  20. paleo diet recipes toddlers

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  21. Christina

    I’m probably guilty of perpetuating some of the “healthy” cleaning ideas. It’s all about the learning curve. I’ll have to go check my Pinterest boards and clear some of them out!

  22. Eileen

    Joel Salatin says that cake mixes that already have the eggs in them are terrible. They put the whole egg in without washing it first, shell, poop, dirt and all. They then strain out the shell and sterilize it. Gross!

  23. Mary

    What about the advice to soak produce in water and vinegar after you buy it to remove toxins and pesticides? Is that a thing?

    1. Post author

      That’s totally fine. I personally am too lazy to do it, but I hear it’s great to extend the life of the produce and get them really clean. Vinegar is a totally natural cleaning agent. :)

  24. Tricia

    Thank you, I have thought the same thing of homemade products that use commercial items. Like the dish soap. Sure it might be a cheaper somewhat better version, but my thought, it isn’t really homemade that way. To me, making something homemade is to get away from the chemicals, not add them to my product.

  25. Sunshine

    Hello! I found this website by accident via your facebook page (great stuff). I wanted to start by saying OMG OMG OG OMG THANK YOU SO FREAKING MUCH. This website is almost as if someone has been living in my head with me and compiled an answer to all the “I am a hippy-dippy-crunchy-granola-chick and I DONT KNOW HOW TO NOT FEEL ICK ABOUT ALL MY LIFE CHOICES BECAUSE THEY FEEL LIKE ALL I HAVE D:” questions I have. Well, most. Time will go on and answer more though :).

    On that note, do you have any ideas for a natural/toxic-free fabric softener solution? I hate dryer sheets, but I hate the feeling of my clothes being all… un-softened. I thought about getting that rubber-ish thing that looks like a huge pollen, but I can’t find one I don’t have one (or more sometimes) big issue with.

    Third world problems, man xD

    1. Sunshine

      Oops, I thought I had searched the website for this answer. Well I did search it, just with the wrong words. I searched “fabric softener” and got no real hits, but when I searched “dryer sheets”, it turns out you already answered my question! Thanks!

  26. Melissa

    Very much enjoying your EHeath Course so far (only day 3)–it directed me to this article. So RELIEVED to find a voice of REASON instead of “hype” and the next “scientific” study this or that is good or bad for you, etc. We say–if Grandmother didn’t eat, neither should we! (as a loose “go-by”). And sick of “restrictive diets”–there’s NO WAY anyone can (or at least WANTS to) go through life NEVER eating a cookie or piece of cake–ridiculous. (Everything in moderation, of course). LOVE your Site and the ecourse! PLEASE–for sake of sanity–keep up the good work! (And for “Sunshine” who asked about dryer sheet replacements–we use wool balls with essential oils on them in the dryer–if you look up “wool dryer balls” on the Internet, you’ll find many instructions on how t make them. That is for scent–for “softening,” (and better cleaning), we add 1/4 cup of white vinegar to the water in the washing machine–don’t worry, you’re clohtes will NOT smell like vinegar! It also helps keep your washer drum clean (nixes the “funky” smell that can happen to them.) Again, THANK YOU for promoting REAL FOOD!! So REFRESHING!

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