Find out which “healthy” foods are actually undoing all your hard work.
By: Shari Brooks
Believe it or not, descriptions like “natural” or “fat free” indicate nothing about a food’s nutritional value. 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. Here are seven foods you should consider removing from your diet, and some alternatives.
Don’t think tortillas and wraps are healthier because the bread is thinner. Shells contain more calories than you think and have a large surface area that holds more fillers than most bread. Some wraps have the equivalent carbohydrates and fat to three slices of buttered bread spread.
Substitution: The occasional sandwich is fine. If you do opt for a wrap, make sure it’s filled with healthy veggies and low-fat proteins.
- Fruit Smoothies
Pay attention to the ingredients in smoothies. They should only contain the basics: Fresh fruit, ice and 100 percent juice. Many stores will load in extras like ice cream, sugar and sweetened fruit.
Substitution: Stick with the basics. The best option is to use fresh ingredients and make your own.
Yogurts are full of calcium so they should be good for you, right? It depends on what type. Some varieties are healthier than the others. Avoid yogurts topped with granola or crushed cookies, as well as children’s yogurts with outlandish, quirky flavors and colors.
Substitution: Opt for Greek-style yogurts. They’re higher in protein, lower in sugar and they’ll keep you full longer.
Granola has the reputation for being natural and healthy, but unless they’re made with whole grain granola, chances are they’re high in sugar and not filling.
Substitution: Pick granola bars and cereals that are high in fiber and whole grain, as they will keep you fuller longer.
- Café-style Coffee or Tea
Added toppings, like whipped cream and caramel, welcome loads of calories and fat to your coffee or tea. Opt for the sugar-free syrups or make your own fresh brew at home without the topping temptations.
Substitution: Opt for the sugar-free syrups or make your own fresh brew at home without the topping temptations.
- Salad Dressing
No salad is healthy if it’s drenched in dressing. Even the light salad dressings are packed with sugar, sodium and other additives.
Substitution: Instead, use basic dressings like olive oil and balsamic vinegar over top of your greens. Or ask for the dressing on the side and lightly dip each bite into it.
You might opt for pretzels over potato chips because they contain less fat, salt and grease. But, most pretzels are made with enriched white flour — which converts to sugar in your bloodstream. And while the novelty of blue corn chips may make them seem more nutritious, they aren’t. Regardless of color, corn chips are generally just not good.
Substitution: Opt for a bowl of cut up veggies to satisfy your desire for crunch.
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.