10 “Healthy” Foods That May Not Be As Good For You As You Think
Losing weight is challenging. In addition to needing the willpower to change your eating habits, it’s almost impossible to choose a diet that will work for you and won’t leave you feeling unsatisfied and wanting to give up before you start.
Unfortunately, eating a diet rich in whole foods can sabotage your weight loss plan if you’re not careful. The following foods are commonly thought of as healthy — and many of them are — but if you don’t choose right or you eat too much at a time, you may be ruining your efforts without realizing it.
1. Sugary Yogurt
Yogurt is always on the list of healthy diet foods, and if you choose the right type, it’s perfectly fine. The problem is that there is much more bad yogurt out there than good. What makes it bad?
Sugar, for one. Most popular brands of yogurt, especially the kind with fruit, contain too much sugar. Additives and preservatives are another thing to watch out for. When buying yogurt, read the labels carefully. Choose plain over fruit yogurt and enjoy it with real fruit. Greek yogurt is a good choice, as it’s high in protein and will keep you full.
2. Too Much Full-Fat Cheese
Cheese is something that is almost impossible to enjoy without piling it on. It’s not necessarily bad for you, but it is high in fat and calories. Consider cheese to be an indulgence and measure it carefully before topping your salad, soup, or sandwich. Buy high-quality, flavorful cheese that you can use less of, and don’t eat it more than once a day.
3. Nuts and Seeds Coated in Sugar
Nuts and seeds are foods that are easy to eat too many of at a time, especially when everyone’s constantly telling you how good they are for you. Yes, they are good for you, but they are also high in fat and calories. Always measure nuts and seeds, and steer clear of those coated in sugar. About a quarter cup a day is a good aim to get the nutritional benefits without overdoing it.
4. Commercially Prepared Granola
Granola has always been thought of as a healthy food, but in reality, it’s loaded with fat and sugar. Depending on the brand, you may find preservatives and other unpronounceable ingredients you simply don’t want. A little bit has a lot of calories, so it’s very easy to overeat.
If you can’t live without your granola, learn to make your own so that you can control what goes in it.
5. Foods that are “Light” or “Low Calorie”
It’s important to remember that foods labeled as being good for you rarely are. Anything with the words “lite”, “diet”, or anything else that seems like it’s good for you is a bad idea.
The reason? Manufacturers know that dieters want to enjoy their favorite foods, but want to do it without guilt. So they alter them to make them diet friendly by removing something you see as an enemy, such as fat, sugar, or calories. How to do they do this? By replacing the bad for you ingredients with something else that’s bad. The end result is something that’s totally unhealthy, and doesn’t even taste good most of the time. You should avoid processed foods altogether, but especially those trying to trick you into thinking they’re good for you.
6. Frozen Veggie Burgers
Vegetarianism is a healthy eating plan, so those veggie burgers should be better for you than beef right? Maybe, but probably not. Veggie burgers you pick up in your grocery store freezer are usually made of processed ingredients like soy and grains, and are loaded with sodium. If you are eating one because you’re trying to find a healthy replacement for your burger, just eat the burger instead as an indulgence or make a healthy version of your burger at home. If you’re eating them because you’re a vegetarian, find a healthy recipe and make your own out of actual vegetables and other nutritious, whole foods.
7. Salads That Lack Vegetables
Salads are the ultimate healthy food, or so you may think. A salad can be a healthy, filling meal. It can also be a calorie bomb. A bowl of iceberg lettuce topped with croutons, bacon bits, and cheese is hardly healthy. Add some ranch dressing, and you may as well eat a steak.
Instead, eat salads that are made of dark greens, with plenty of other veggies. A few nuts and a little bit of cheese is okay as long as you don’t overdo it. For protein, think beans, or grilled chicken or fish. For dressing, oil and vinegar or lemon juice is ideal.
8. Gluten Free Packaged Foods
If you think that eating gluten free versions of all your favorite foods will kickstart your weight loss into gear, think again. Processed food is processed food, and a cookie is a cookie, whether it contains wheat flour or rice flour.
If you must follow a gluten free diet due to a medical condition, focus on foods that are naturally gluten free — fruits, vegetables, meat, and other whole foods.
9. Bran Muffins (Or Muffins in General)
When you’re at the coffee shop trying to make a healthy choice, a bran muffin seems like the healthy choice, but in reality, it’s just as bad and no muffin is the better choice. It doesn’t matter if it has fruit, nuts, or other nutritious ingredients inside it, if it is loaded with sugar and fat, you should skip it. Eat a snack before you go to the coffee shop to avoid temptation.
10. “Healthy” Sugars
Honey, maple syrup, and agave are all sweeteners that are thought to be healthy, but the reality is that they are still sugar. Better, maybe, but “better” doesn’t mean “eat as much as you want.” Enjoy these in moderation and limit overall sugar intake.
Weight loss is hard enough without foods you think are healthy getting in your way. A focus on fresh, whole foods, is definitely the way to go, but it’s important to learn which have the most fat and calories so that you can limit those in your diet. Once you do, you’ll be on your way to meeting your goal.
Bio: Jeff Fenster is a food enthusiast and writer for Chef Works, the top culinary apparel resource for hospitality and food service professionals worldwide.