The Hidden Secrets in ‘Healthy’ Foods
While there are many foods that sound healthy because they have the word ‘salad’, ‘low-fat’, or ‘fruity’ in them, you should educate yourself on what is actually in the ingredients that make up the foods before you spend your financial and calorie budgets on them. Read these tips to help you make better decisions when you purchase your next meal or snack:
1. Some garden and Caesar salads often contain high calorie dressings and cheeses that boost the calorie count up to 300-400 calories for a small salad. Keep in mind that dressings are to be used strictly to add a little flavor to the salad, and this can be accomplished by either dipping your salad into the dressing, or mixing one tablespoon of dressing into the entire salad. Forego the croutons if you can, the seasoned variety contain almost 200 calories in a cup! As a healthier option for croutons, make your own by using broken up whole wheat bread that you toast in the oven with a drizzle of olive oil on top. Turn your salad into a meal by adding broccoli, green and red peppers, tomatoes, croutons, apples, low fat cheese, carrots, and any other veggies you find in your fridge.
2. Fruit smoothies sound pretty healthy right? Once again, label reading should be second nature to anyone trying to lose weight. That “healthy” berry blend at a smoothie shop can surprisingly contain up to 80 grams of sugar, over 300 calories, no protein, and very often, little or no fresh fruit. For many smoothie varieties, fruit concentrates are often used instead of fresh fruit and when you add a little ice cream or sorbet, voila! You have a ‘healthy’ milkshake! Remember to ask for what you want: Fresh fruit, low fat yogurt instead of ice cream, skim milk and protein power to add some balance.
3. 2% milk sounds a lot healthier than whole milk, and while it does contain less calories and saturated fat, the difference is pretty insignificant. It still has more than half the saturated fat of whole milk. Whole milk contains 150 calories and 5 grams of saturated fat, and 2% milk contains 130 calories and 3 grams of saturated fat per serving. If you have a hard time transitioning to skim milk which contains 80 calories and 0 grams of saturated fat, try mixing it with whole or 2% milk for a while until you can get used to the taste. You would be cutting back on the saturated fat entirely.
4. Low fat yogurt can be tasty, but also very deceptive. Often full of added sugars, it is tempting to assume you are eating something healthy without knowing that you are filling up on up to 30 or more grams of fructose, sucrose or other sweeteners. A typical 6 ounce container should be 90-130 calories and under 20 grams of sugar. Try mixing sweetened yogurt with regular, plain, nonfat yogurt until you can get used to the nonfat yogurt and add your own fresh fruit as a sweetener.
While there are many other foods that contain surprising amounts of added sugar and calories, starting with the four listed above can be a good start. The small modifications mentioned can easily be integrated into your lifestyle. Remember to always, always, always read the label on everything before you buy it, and if you are buying from a restaurant or fast food location, ask for the nutritional facts. If weight loss is your goal, it is imperative that you become familiar with the calories, saturated fats and oftentimes hidden sugar that is found in some familiar, healthy sounding foods. Learn how to combine the not so healthy food varieties with ones that pass the label test little by little until you are eating the actual healthy varieties. Eventually your taste buds will change which will make it easier to make food choices that your body needs.