Foods You Might Think Are Healthy that Actually Aren't
Every year, it seems the FDA changes what is considered a “healthy” food. Can we all go back to the time when bread was considered the healthiest food??
The more natural and less processed our foods are, the better, but who has time?? There are some quick fixes that seem healthy that in reality are not. Now, I’m not telling you that you shouldn’t eat these foods, because some of them are delicious! Some of them are healthy in some ways, while unhealthy in others.
1. Granola Bars
Granola bars are my favorite snack. They’re so convenient and satisfying that I can’t stay away. However, many of them are filled with sugar. Some of them are obviously not healthy, while others are falsely marketed as healthy. Take Clif Bars for example. They’re advertised as a healthy, energy snack, but the first ingredient is brown rice syrup, which is sugar. Even the healthier granola bars like Lara Bars or RX Bars are heavy on fats. While fats are good and necessary, you should be mindful of how much you’re eating throughout the day. One of my favorite snacks now is a plain rice cake with some natural peanut or cashew butter on it. It's delicious, and there's only 2 ingredients.
Eat instead: a rice cake with nut butter or RX Bar
I feel the same way about cereal that I do about granola bars. I used to eat Kashi cereal every day thinking it was healthy. Again – full of sugar! Major ingredients for Kashi cereals are brown rice syrup and/or dried cane syrup. Most cereal contains a ton of sugar, especially when you consider that most people eat more than the recommended serving. Stay away from all cereal, and eat muesli or oatmeal instead. They have almost no sugar (depending on the brand) and have more complex carbs that will keep you full longer and won’t cause you to crash.
Eat instead: oatmeal or muesli
3. Wheat Bread
Bread is not bad for you, but it’s not great for you either. Whenever I eat a lot of bread, I feel lethargic and bloat like I’m 6 months pregnant. Because of that, I limit the amount of bread I eat throughout the week. I stopped eating white bread years ago, because we all know how processed white bread is. I switched to wheat bread, and for a few years lived in ignorance bliss believing I was eating a healthier bread. The truth is that most wheat bread is just as bad as white bread. That doesn't mean all bread is bad for you! Learn more about how to choose healthier bread from this super helpful article from Medical News Today.
Eat instead: whole grain bread
4. Salads (some!)
It’s true, some salads are not the best for you. Going heavy on the dressing can really crank up your calories and fat and sugar intake. Not only the dressing, but eating lettuce isn’t really good for you. It’s not good or bad. It’s just there. There’s almost no calories, which some misinterpret as healthy, but that also means there’s no nutrients. Go for spinach, kale, or even quinoa. Cobb salads are the only kind of salad I like, but I realized while I was eating one that it’s incredibly high in fat. Again, fats are NOT bad for you, but you shouldn’t overeat fats. Salads often contain eggs, avocado, bacon, cheese, dressing, that contains fat. Keep an eye on your fat sources, and be sure to add protein like chicken, meat, fish, or something like beans if you’re vegetarian! Learn how to make a healthy salad from Very Well Fit.
Eat instead: a balanced salad with the best greens, healthy fats, and a good source of protein
5. Acai Bowls
Let’s clarify one thing—acai bowls are a dessert. They are a healthy dessert alternative, but they’re not a healthy meal. Acai bowls are full of fruit, which means they’re full of sugar. It’s natural sugar, but it’s a lot of it. Especially if you’re adding in granola and/or honey, you’ve really got to be careful about the sugar intake. Acai bowls are low in protein and fat, two macros that will keep you full, so try to add some to your bowls. They're a good treat every once in a while, but you shouldn’t be having them every day. I recommend putting protein powder in your bowls to get a little extra protein in, skipping the granola, and try putting spinach in for some more nutrients.
Eat instead: add some spinach and protein powder
6. Rotisserie Chicken
Sometimes, I realllllyyyy don’t want to cook but want to eat chicken. Rotisserie chicken from the grocery store can seem like a great choice, but you have to be careful about what your grocery store is putting on the chicken. The other day, I was eating rotisserie chicken my mom bought (the first time I’d had it in forever). I had never like rotisserie chicken from where she gets it, and that day I learned why. It had a concoction of honey and sugar on it that made it super sweet. Some are mad with dairy as well and many have high sodium levels. I highly recommend cooking your own chicken without sugar or dairy!
Eat instead: cook your own chicken thighs or chicken breast with little to no oil
7. Cold Cuts
Cold cuts are delicious. I used to eat turkey, ham, or roast beef sandwiches almost every day, but a lot of cold cuts aren’t exactly what you think they are. Cold cuts, especially ham, are high in sodium and saturated fats. They're processed meat, and many of them have fillers in them. The best thing to do is cut down on cold cuts, but you should spend a little extra to get high quality cold cuts. You can also consider buying a ham, turkey, or roast and make your own sandwiches!
Eat instead: high quality cold cuts or high quality meat that you cook yourself
Yogurt companies brilliantly advertised that yogurt was good before healthy food was cool. Yogurt isn’t the worst thing for you, but there is a big difference between eating sugary yogurt and plain Greek yogurt, which is much better for you. Your body needs the probiotics in yogurt for a healthy gut, but it could go without the sugar and artificial sweeteners present in any yogurt that takes remotely good. Just like the acai bowl, you’re putting fruit and granola on your yogurt you’re loading up on carbs and sugar. Just remember that it’s more of a dessert than a snack or meal!
Eat instead: plain Greek yogurt with some fruit as a topping