Don’t get caught off-guard by some of these supposedly healthy foods.
By: Shari Brooks
Let’s face it: Many of us eat foods we believe to be healthy. But in reality, they’re sabotaging our diet.
As consumers, simply being more aware of the ingredients in the foods we’re eating can help us avoid foods we mistake for healthy. Don’t get duped by seemingly “healthy foods.”
Believe it or not, words like “natural” or “fat free” indicate nothing about a food’s nutritional value. With that in mind, here are seven foods I’ve recently limited or even swapped out from my diet because they’re just not that healthy:
Don’t be fooled into thinking wrap sandwiches are healthier because the bread is “thinner.” These shells roll up more calories than you could imagine. If you take a moment to unravel the thin wrap shell, you’ll be surprised at its large surface area that can hold more fillers than most standard bread slices. In fact, some wraps have equivalent carbohydrates and fat to three slices of bread spread with butter.
Try to make sure your wraps are filled with healthy veggies and low-fat proteins, then cut the wrap in half before you roll it up.
I used to purchase a smoothie every time after I worked out. It’s crucial to pay attention to the ingredients in smoothies. They should only contain the basics: fresh fruit, ice and 100 percent juice. Many stores, however, will load in extras like ice cream, sugar and syrup-sweetened fruit. Remember, with ingredients, less is more.
Your best option: make them yourself at home. It’s quick, cheap, easy and tasty.
Yogurts are full of calcium so they should be good for you, right? The problem was determining which of the many store-bought varieties is healthier than the others. As a mother, I always gravitated to the yogurts my kids adored: the ones that come with cute compartments filled with toppings like granola or crushed cookies, the mini lunch-size yogurt drinks with a straw, or the yogurts with the most outlandish, quirky flavors (and colors). Unfortunately, these particular varieties are the least healthy choices — laden with sugar and fat. I now eat and serve Greek-style yogurts to my kids. They’re higher in protein, lower in sugar and keep us full longer.
The healthiest alternative of all: buy plain yogurt and simply add fresh fruit on top.
Granola has the reputation for being natural and healthy but, in reality, eating too much granola with added sugars is fattening.
Although it may seem like a healthier alternative to sugary store-bought cookies, unless they’re made with whole grain granola, chances are the granola bars you’re buying are also high in sugar (high fructose corn syrup) and not very filling.
Try to look for granola bars that are high in fiber, as they will keep you fuller longer.
And, many granola cereals are also high in fat and sugar. Make sure the very first ingredient listed on the box is whole grains. Or, just make a homemade granola. It’s quick, easy and healthy.
Store–made coffee or tea
Gone are the days of brewing a pot of coffee at home or preparing a kettle of tea on the stove. With the growing number of coffee and tea stores across the country, it seems we’ve moved away from the brewing basics.
Nowadays, it’s fairly easy to order a latte or cappuccino and top it off with some whipped cream, sugar, milk, chocolate shavings, crushed peppermint — you name it. But, be careful. Each topping translates to added calories and fat. And, size matters. Try avoiding drinking a 24-ounce blended drink with added toppings every day for your morning drink or afternoon “coffee break.” Even for the teas, simply adding one pump of syrup is equal to one tablespoon of sugar.
Romaine lettuce is healthy but, when drenched with Ranch salad dressing, it’s not. The next time you make a salad and decide on a dressing, check the label. Even the “light” salad dressings are packed with sugar, sodium and other additives.
Try to get used to drizzling basic dressings like olive oil and balsamic vinegar over top your greens. Your body (and the lettuce) will thank you.
Pretzels & blue corn chips
People might opt for pretzels over potato chips because they contain less fat and are less salty and greasy. But, most pretzels are also made with enriched white flour, which converts to sugar in your bloodstream — not good. So, be careful when you’re taking that fifth handful of mini pretzels.
Walk down an aisle in a health food store and you’ll find it’s overflowing with bags of blue corn chips. While their novelty may make them seem more nutritious, they are not healthier because they’re blue. It doesn’t matter whether your chips are yellow, red, white or blue. Check nutritional information. It’s generally the same.
At the end of the day, the only real defense against buying into supposedly healthy or fat-free things is due diligence. Read labels and pay attention — it could save your waistline.
Shari is a former MTV marketer and now the founder of the food and video blog My Judy the Foodie , which was voted a Top 25 Foodie Mom blog by the website Circle of Moms. She also writes about parenting, family, healthy living, fitness, work/life balance and is a breast cancer ambassador.