Every day we make thousands of decisions. They range from the simple (such as which socks to wear) to the complex (finding a better route to circumvent traffic on the roadways). It’s easy to become overwhelmed with life and look for simple solutions to complex problems. Eating healthy should be easy.
But, oftentimes we read or hear so much misleading information on what is “healthy” and what is not “healthy.” As personal trainers and nutritionists for over 34 years, we share this article to cut through the clutter and hand you the easy way to identify not-so-healthy foods that masquerade as healthy foods.
With so many healthy alternatives and nutrition hacks it’s easy to find healthy swaps for some of your favorite foods. However, some foods masquerading as healthy foods are anything but healthy. Here’s a list of the top 15 “Healthy Foods” that you’ll want to pass up
1. Instant Oatmeal or Quick Oats
We all know that oats are good for us. High in fiber, low in sugar and a quality source of slow burning carbs that won’t spike your blood sugar, right? Well, maybe not. While whole oats and steel cut oats are indeed the healthy variety of oats, it’s the flavored instant oatmeal that is anything but healthy. Further refined and loaded with sugar this variety of oats isn’t any healthier than sugary cereal. And be careful with whole oats, too. Loading up on the honey, fruit or granola can even turn this healthy food into a high-calorie, high sugar meal. Instead, grab a bowl of whole, rolled or steel cut oats and add a small amount of berries or honey for a delicious, low calorie and healthy food.
“What?! Fish is healthy and so is plain rice. So how could sushi be bad for me?” Easy. While sashimi (fish only) is high in protein, sushi rolls can contain mostly rice and very few veggies. For example, A spicy tuna roll is equal to eating one and a half tuna sandwiches will full fat mayo! California rolls are equal to an additional two sandwiches of imitation crab meat. So, how do you enjoy this favorite food without breaking the calorie bank? One way is to add a piece of sashimi on top of each sushi piece in order to bump up the protein. You’ll feel full without adding extra fat or carbs. How can a Nutrition Coach help you? Find out here>>
3. Energy Bars
Full of processed chemicals, unhealthy fats and refined sugar many of these snacks are just as bad as most candy bars. Worse yet, these bars are marketed as high-protein snacks, yet they contain over 90% of calories from fat and sugar! So what to do? Read labels and go for a bar with few ingredients, contains less than 200 calories and less than 20 grams of sugar. Better yet, try these homemade versions for a deliciously healthy treat!
It may look exotic, but it’s really just… pasta! While it tastes great and may have some lentils or a few grains in it, couscous is not as healthy as we may think. Instead of couscous, go for healthier grains like bulgar and quinoa.
5. Reduced Fat Peanut Butter
When it comes to calories there isn’t much of a difference between regular peanut butter and reduced fat peanut butter but the difference is in the type of calories. Reduced fat peanut butter replaces some of the fat calories with sugar! So, instead of pumping more sugar into your body go with the regular variety and have some of the healthy fats instead. Just be careful to watch the serving size! Think nuts are high in protein? Get some help here>>
6. Veggie Patties
You would think with a name like veggie patties they would contain plenty of healthy veggies, right? That’s not necessarily true. Many veggie patties (fresh or frozen) contain fillers and binders like rice, gluten or other items to give it good texture. Do yourself a favor and read the label. Make sure that vegetables are at the top of the list of ingredients to ensure they are mostly veggie and less patty.
7. Bran Muffins
Bran muffins sound like they are every bit as healthy (and tasty) as eating tree bark. Well, if they are like my mother used to make (bran, egg, leavening agents and applesauce), then they are! But why do Bran Muffins from local shoppes taste so good? They are loaded with sugar, flour and fat. Sorry, but you’ll most likely have to bake these healthy treats yourself if you want them to have better nutrition. Look for recipes that use applesauce instead of fats.
8. Rice Cakes
When dieting everyone munches on these snacks. We top them with some peanut butter or fruit for a healthy treat to satisfy that need to crunch. And they’re so light they have to be fairly harmless, right? Wrong. Rice cakes and crackers have a large amount of carbohydrates for their weight and they can spike your blood sugar faster than white sugar! So, instead of reaching for the rice cake, reach for some celery to put that peanut butter
9. Rice Milk
Rice milk is simply water and rice carbohydrates. There’s very little nutrition from vitamins and minerals. You’re better off with organic milk (cow, goat) or almond milk.
10. Packaged Turkey
Fresh turkey breast is a great source of high in protein and is very versatile in many recipes. However, it’s ugly cousin, packaged and sitting on the shelf, is full of preservatives and fillers which allow it to sit on the shelf much longer before expiring. A healthier move is to go for fresh turkey or at least fresh turkey sliced at the deli counter that contains less than 300 mg sodium per serving.
11. Multigrain Bread
The terms multigrain, whole grain or stone ground lead us to believe the products are less processed and more wholesome and nutritious. While most breads may start out this way they are heavily refined and processed which removes the fiber and much of the vitamins and minerals from the grain. Watch out for labels that include bleached or unbleached wheat flour.
12. Banana Chips
While bananas are high in potassium, fiber, and Vitamin C, banana chips are anything but. Fried, Salted and Dried banana chips have very little nutrition, yet are packed with calories. Stick with the real deal on this one. Plus, bananas already come with their single serving packaging that aids us in our “grab and go” lifestyles.
13. Baked Beans
Beans by themselves are high in fiber, minerals and have healthy carbohydrates and some protein to boot. Baked beans are nothing of the sort. They are high in calories and low in nutrition. Made up of sugar, syrup, molasses and some oil these canned culprits masquerade as a healthy side dish.
14. Spinach Wraps and Pasta
These types of products, whether they are spinach, tomato or artichoke, are highly processed and contain very little actual vegetable. Instead, eat a smaller portion of whole wheat pasta and add spinach to the ingredient mix.
Pretzels are promoted as better than potato chips simply because they are not fried. But, when we look at the ingredient list we find pretzels contains many of the same ingredients as while bread. With little to no nutritional value, pretzels are full or carbs and fat.
16. Trail Mix
Fruit. Nuts. Aren’t these good for us? Yes, but common store bought varieties have more sugar and fat than you’d think. Many contain fried chips, chocolate bites, pretzels and sugar coated raisins which all add lots of calories, but very little nutrition. Instead, go for the home made variety that you can make in the kitchen yourself. Stick to unsalted raw or roasted nuts, unsulfered no-sugar added dried fruit and even sugar free cacao nibs!
17. Bottled Green Teas
If you’re after the antioxidant benefits of green tee then you may want to look elsewhere. Many bottled forms of green (or black) tea contain sugar, artificial sweeteners, preservatives and a much lower amount of actual tea than you’d originally thought. If it’s the healthy benefits of green tea that you’re after go for fresh brewed green tea and pour it over ice for a truly antioxidant packed.
That’s the list of 17 “Healthy” Foods to avoid if you are trying to actually be healthy.
At Out Run Your Fork Personal Training and Nutrition we’ve been helping people Lose Weight, Build Strength, Have More Energy and Feel Great all in Minimal Time Without Risking Injury for over 34 years.
If you’re curious about what it takes to work with a personal trainer or nutritionist, then scroll down to the PS section below and we’ll get you some information to see if working with a trainer is right for you.
Yours In Health,
Tony, Owner Out Run Your Fork Personal Training
Out Run Your Fork Personal Training and Nutrition
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