We all know that a burger and chips are not the go to food if you want to lose weight or get healthier but what about the foods we have been told are good for us that might not be? Many of the following foods seem healthy or have been touted by the popular media or more likely, the makers of the food themselves as nutritional superstars when really, not so much.
Around the 1960s, granola got a reputation as a health food. It was healthier than the heavily sugared, frosted cereals that were being sold at the time. In terms of todayâ€™s standards, most granola is too high in fat and sugar to make it a regular part of your breakfast and it is a pretty high calorie snack. Opt for lower fat or low sugar granola when you are craving it or use it sparingly on natural yogurt.
Many yogurts on the market are fine for dessert perhaps, but not necessarily the healthy treat we might think they are. Many yogurts are high in sugar and fat, making them a poor choice for a meal. The fruit yogurt is usually little more than high sugar preserves stirred in. Even the fat free and sugar free varieties are problematic. Have you seen the ingredient list on some common big store brands? It is long and filled with unfamiliar ingredients because when you remove the natural fat or eliminate sugar, generally you must add many additives to compensate.
So whatâ€™s a yogurt lover to do? There are some brands available at stores that are completely natural and delicious! The best yogurts have their natural probiotics intact. Likewise, you should look for yogurts that are sweetened with fruit juice and/or honey, which is much better for your body and overall health. Unsweetened is good too as you can control what and how much sweetener you add. Ideally, it is wise to avoid artificial sweeteners but there are some promising natural alternatives like Stevia. The list of ingredients should be small and recognisable. If you like fruit flavours, try mashing up a bit of ripe fruit and stirring it right into your plain yogurt.
3. Multigrain & Whole Wheat Bread
If you watch the commercials for these types of products, they sure sound healthy but most of it is hype. Many marketed â€œwhole grainâ€ breads or wheat breads are still made with heavily refined flour with much of the good stuff left out and replaced with extra sugar and scary sounding additives.
Wheat is not the wholesome, nourishing, healthful food you have been led to believe. It is not just how much wheat we are eating but also the hidden components of wheat that can impact weight gain and disease. Todayâ€™s wheat is not your great-grandmotherâ€™s wheat. It is scientifically engineered FrankenWheat. Two slices of most whole wheat bread raises your blood sugar more than two TABLESPOONS of table sugar!
Even if your smoothie starts out with healthful fruit and low-fat dairy, the generally large serving along with added sugar and even ice cream can add up to a high-calorie treat. Not all smoothies are 500 calorie plus meals and sure they can be a great breakfast or refuel after a workout but best make your own to avoid the unwanted extras in most shop smoothies.
A good go to smoothie is a cup or so of fruit (bananas, berries of any kind, even lemons), a half-cup plain or vanilla yogurt and ice. You can sweeten with a little honey or natural sweetener of your choice.
Listen just because it comes from the fruit doesnâ€™t mean itâ€™s good for you. While fruit is very healthful and chock full of fiber and micro nutrients, juice is lacking. When the sugars in fruit are concentrated in juice, the sugar levels sky rocket. Fruit juice has nearly as much sugar as a soft drink, and the fact that the sugar naturally comes from fruit doesn't make it any healthier.
If you want all the good stuff, eat the apple and skip the apple juice. If you like to mix it up with drinks and miss your fruit juice, never fear. Most fruit juices are so concentrated that just a splash with water or sparkling water can give you the taste you are looking for without all the added sugar.
Like with juice, dried fruit isnâ€™t bad per se as much as it is just so sugar heavy that it isnâ€™t generally the best choice. If you are camping or hiking and need a calories dense food that is light and easy to carry, dried fruit is a good option, however, for regular snacks, you are looking at way too much sugar. Likewise, many dried fruits are loaded with preservatives to keep it moist and pretty looking. Dried fruit has super concentrated sugars and no water meaning you can eat a lot more before feeling filled up. While it can be good for an occasional snack, fresh fruit is always better.
7. Protein Shakes & Energy Bars
It is here that careful label reading is a must. There are some great protein shakes and energy bars available but all too often that energy bar looks nutritionally very close to a candy bar. Some of these calorie-dense products are designed for super calorie burning athletes, not your average Joe or Jane. Also, many protein shakes and energy bars are so high in calories that they are really designed to skip a meal rather than function as a snack.
So if you are super busy and donâ€™t have time for lunch, one of these might be good now and then but if you want something sweet after a meal, have a piece of fruit or a small square of dark chocolate. A 300+ calorie shake or bar after a 300 calorie meal is just way more calories than the average person needs.
8. Packaged Turkey or Chicken Breast
Turkey is a fantastic source of lean protein and a good choice for an easy meal, however, many packaged turkey slices are overloaded with sodium. Purchase low-sodium varieties or opt for fresh turkey slices. The best choice is to roast your own ahead of time and slice it making it sandwich or snack ready. If roasting your own isnâ€™t feasible, look for brands with fewer than 350 milligrams of sodium per 2-oz. serving.
9. Low Fat Packaged Snacks
Started during the low-fat craze, low fat snack seemed like the answer to every dieterâ€™s prayers. Now we know that some fat is good, it triggers brain signals that help us feel sated. Likewise, in order to taste â€œgood,â€ many of these low-fat snacks have tons of added sugar and additives to make up for the fat taken out. Skip the overly processed snacks all together and opt for naturally low fat snacks and even judicious amounts of fats like cheese, nuts and other healthy options.
Have you seen a bran muffin lately? Talk about supersized. Part of the problem with store bought muffins is portion size, the other issue is trans fats and sugar. Your best bet is to bake your own and keep them small like a regular sized cupcake. If you must have the store muffin, halve it and eat the other half later in the day for a snack.