A smoothie for breakfast, a turkey sandwich for lunch and a restaurant salad for dinner. Sounds like a pretty healthy day, right? Wrong!!!! Some foods that we may sound “healthy” actually aren’t!! We are here to warn you of these manipulative foods and to help you avoid weight gain from food that seems to be a-okay. Pay close attention—these are 10 unhealthy foods that seem healthy!!
1. Prepared Salads
One of the most common assumptions that dieters have is that all salads are healthy. This is far from the truth!! In fact, some prepared salads can have well over 1,000 calories!! Take a look at tuna salads, chicken salads and shrimp salads. These options are often loaded with hidden fats and calories (hello!? Mayonnaise!). A great rule of thumb is to prepare your own salads, load up on veggies and stay extremely light and basic with dressings (even better—put the dressing on the side!).
2. Lean Cuisines
Just because it has the word “lean” in it, doesn’t mean that a Lean Cuisine (or other frozen meals) will help you lose weight—in fact, they may do just the opposite. Lean Cuisines, SmartOnes and other frozen meal substitutes, although low in calories, are loaded with sodium (that’s the only reason they don’t taste like cardboard…most of the time). When grocery shopping, avoid the middle aisles that display options like Lean Cuisines. Instead, stick to the perimeters of the store—that’s where the fresh produce and lean meats are!!
Sure, you can find a few healthy smoothies out there, but most of the time, traditional smoothies are loaded with sugar, ice cream, sherbet and oftentimes, fattening yogurt. In addition, smoothie shops have an incorrect version of “portion control”. The smallest smoothie you can buy is normally 16 oz.! Beware: Some smoothie chains offer smoothies that contain 500 calories or more!! You’ve been warned…
4. Reduced Fat Peanut Butter
Sure, sure—reduced fat peanut butter may be healthier than regular peanut butter, but it’s still not the best choice for dieters. If you compare reduced fat peanut butter to regular peanut butter, they both have about the same amount of calories, but reduced fat has more sugar. So what can you swap for creamy, reduced fat peanut butter? We recommend trying natural peanut butter (less sugar, salt and hydrogenated fats!) or almond butter and cashew butter. Want to learn more? Read our blog post The Truth About Peanut Butter.
5. Fat Free Yogurt
Much like smoothies, yogurt can contain a lot of sugar and fatty dairy ingredients. Although fat free and sugar free yogurts contain good-for-you calcium, the effects of calcium are often eliminated when sugar is added. Sugar actually makes our bodies excrete calcium, so not a whole lot of calcium will be absorbed by the body in the first place. In addition, sugar free yogurt is laden with ingredients like high fructose corn syrup—a substitute that aids in weight gain!! So what’s the better option? Give no sugar added Greek yogurt a try.
6. Baked Potatoes
Think you’re being healthy by eating a baked potato instead of French fries? Think again! Baked potatoes, especially those ordered at restaurants, come fully-loaded with butter, sour cream, cheese and bacon bits—we’re talking a 700 calories potato here (with 20+ grams of fat!!!). If you’re craving a potato, eat a plain potato (without all the fixings) or try sweet potato—one of our favorite super foods—with sautéed onions.
7. Sports Drinks
Sports drinks like Gatorade and Powerade, although full of electrolytes like potassium and sodium, are actually not that good for you—especially if you’re not working out. Many sports drinks contain 125 calories or more in a 20 oz. bottle. Are you prepared for these extra calories? The alternative to a sports drink is obvious and way healthier—grab that bottle of water! It’s the best liquid in the world!!!
8. Packaged Turkey
We love lean meats—but believe it or not, packaged turkey is not one of them!! Packaged turkey is packed with sodium (in fact, some packaged turkey servings contain nearly one-third of the maximum recommended daily sodium intake!!). If you want to buy packaged turkey, buy low sodium varieties. Even better—purchase your turkey from the butcher. Turkey from the butcher often contains less sodium than packaged brands.
9. Granola Bars
Energy bars and granola bars contain a lot of high fructose corn syrup, sugar and saturated fat. Stay away from these on-the-go snacks!! Some granola bars are now coined as “protein bars” because they contain so much protein (but up to 350 calories too!!). There are much better options than a granola bar—try a hearty handful of almonds instead. They will still give you that energy you need.
10. Bran Muffins
Rule of thumb: if it looks like a cupcake, it’s probably just as unhealthy as a cupcake!! And the bran muffin is no different. Bran muffins sold at delis and coffee shops, although full of healthy ingredients, do not allow dieters to follow correct portion control. Most bran muffins from coffee shops run at about 350 calories apiece (without butter or jam!!).
So how can you avoid these 10 foods? We recommend shopping on the perimeter of the supermarket—that’s where most the produce, lean meats and other health foods are located. Once you venture into the bakery or frozen food section—beware!!! These 10 unhealthy foods seem healthy— but don’t let the “reduced fat” and “sugar free” packaging fool you!!