Eating healthy has never been so confusing! With all of these health buzz words like low-fat, fat free, all natural, organic and gluten free – how do you know what’s actually good for you?
Eye-catching and convincing advertising makes it difficult for customers to choose wisely. If you clicked on this blog, chances are you’re trying to incorporate healthier food choices into your diet. Maybe you’re questioning what some of these “healthy” terms actually mean – well, you’re not alone! In fact, 64% of customers are influenced by advertisements and healthy food products, according to the Institute of Food Technologists. But with so many options and so little time, it’s hard to tell what’s actually good for you and what’s nothing more a health fad.
Take KIND bars for example; the FDA recently went after the well-known snack company, and accused them of mislabeling & marketing their products as “healthy”. The government agency says that the bars are too fatty to be considered a healthy snack, according to NPR.
Don’t stress, we have the scoop on which foods are NOT as healthy as they appear – plus, we’ll even give you some suggested alternatives.
- Granola – “People think of granola as healthy because they think whole grain, but the problem with granola is that it tends to also have a lot of sugar and is often cooked with oil or butter and some kind of fat,” holistic nutrition counselor Jennifer Schonborn tells Mashable. In fact, granola contains a lot of fat and sugar, making it a calorie-dense foo. Did you know that normal serving ( ½ cup) of Natural Valley’s Oats’n Honey granola is 210 calories? Try and stay away from processed foods like granola and stick to natural foods with no added sugar.
- Smoothies or Juice – You may have noticed that huge health fad in liquid form, called juicing. But you may not know that those overpriced refreshing kale juices and smoothies aren’t as healthy as they seem. “When you juice fruit, you strip out the fiber, causing a more rapid spike in blood sugars and insulin levels,” dietitian Jennifer Calo tells Mashable. “Juicing multiple fruits at once is definitely too much sugar from the fructose.” To be more satisfied, Calo suggests trying a salad, pear or apple with its skin still on to get all of it’s nutrients, and to spread out your fruit and veggie intake throughout the day.
- Skinny Cow Ice Cream- Is this lower calorie ice cream too good to be true? Calo doesn’t recommend them to clients because of the large amount of chemicals used in frozen treats. Have you ever heard of Propylene Glycol Monostearate? I didn’t think so. Your safest bet is to stay away from anything containing ingredients that you can’t pronounce or ones that you’ve never heard of. Most are artificial sweeteners are proven to lead consumers to crave a large amount of sweet things. Some have even been related to cancer.
- Flavored Yogurt – One of the first products Schononborn steers away from is flavored yogurt, a popular snack for adults and children. You probably thought you were doing yourself a favor with a little bit of strawberry in your yogurt. Well, did you know that the average flavored yogurt has about 17 grams of added sugar? That’s crazy! You might as well have ice cream that contains about 20 grams of sugar, on average.. Next time you’re thinking about buying yogurt, look for a low fat, low sugar plain yogurt. Sweeten it up naturally with honey, maple syrup or some fresh fruit.
- Restaurant Chicken – When we think of a healthy protein, chicken often comes to mind. However, Schonborn always warns her clients against eating it at a restaurant. Most of the chicken dishes served are usually loaded with lots of calories from being cooked in butter and oil. For example,lemon-herb roasted chicken from The Cheesecake Factory is 1,250 calories!
- Energy/Snack Bars – When you’re in a rush, you’re probably tempted to reach for an energy bar (Luna, Fiber One, Cliff) to hold you over until your next meal. Calo compared many energy bars to candy bars. “They often have a chocolate or yogurt coating (think Special K) and contain a ton of chemicals and artificial sweeteners,” she says. “Fiber One granola bars for example contain about 20 ingredients, some including corn syrup, sugar, food dyes, and palm oil.” If you’re looking to hold yourself over until your next meal, reach for fresh fruit, raw nuts and natural nut butters instead.
- Vitamin Water – Something about the word “vitamin” in the name makes it sound like a healthy choice, right? Calo says otherwise, and compares it closely to soda. Most Vitamin Water flavors contain upwards of 31 grams of sugar – that’s almost 8 teaspoons. Yikes! That’s nearly the amount of sugar found in one can of soda. If you find that regular water is too boring for you, Calo recommends trying seltzer water or adding a lemon, a lime or a variety of frozen fruit for a boost of flavor.
- Reduced-Fat Peanut Butter – When deciding between regular peanut butter and reduced-fat, chances are, you’ll reach for the reduced-fat, right? According to Calo, the natural full-fat peanut butter is your best bet since reduced-fat actually has added sugar to make up for taste.
- Agave Syrup – We all know the ‘golden rule’ of health – too much sugar is a no-no. One of the latest health fads included replacing actual sugar with agave nectar. That might satisfy your sweet tooth, but certainly not your health. In fact, these natural sweeteners can contain the same amount of sugar and calories as traditional sugar and honey. (60 calories per tablespoon)
- Multi-Grain – “If 7 grain is healthy, then 12 grain must be super healthy for you right? Eh, not quite!” says dietitian Lauren Thomas. Multi-grain simply means that there are two or more grains present. It has nothing to do with how refined the flour is – so it’s not healthier for you at all. Plus, keep in mind that if the bread is white, it has been stripped of most of its nutrients. Instead, look for 100% whole wheat bread! This means that all of the grains have been used and you are consuming as much fiber and nutrients as possible.