Everyday people sabotage their diet with choices they think are healthy. Unfortunately, what’s generally accepted as a ‘healthy’ food is often the opposite. At the best, you won’t find the health benefits you are looking for, at worst you could actually hurt your health if you continue eating these in large quantities and for very long time.
I’m all for eating healthily, so I’ve looked at five most common foods that people think they are healthy, but they are actually not.
1. Protein bars
Unless you’re extremely active—doing strenuous exercise for more than an hour per day—you likely don’t need the high amount of protein that’s packed into these bars. If you aren’t burning it, excess protein is stored as fat! For the average exercise enthusiast, simply grabbing a glass of skim milk will help you replenish and refuel post-workout. If you do grab a bar, look for one that has no more than 250 calories, 8-10 grams protein, 1 gram or less saturated fat and no more than 4-8 grams of fibre.
Blended fruit is healthy, right? The answer depends on the size of the smoothie and what else is in it. A good tip is to go for the smallest size, which can easily save 200 or more calories, and make sure the base is either ice, non-fat yoghurt or even coconut water. Then stick to 1-2 servings of fruit. Some smoothies pack 4-6 servings, which can cause your blood sugar to spike and then crash, leaving you susceptible to more sugar cravings.
3. Low Fat Foods
Even though there is lot more research available in the public domain about the healhy aspects of proper fats, we’re still hesitant to include fat in our meals. But including healthy fats (nuts, avocado, salmon, tofu) in your diet can help to fill you up and actually lead to eating less! Plus, in order to make a food low-fat, the manufacturer typically has to add something to make the food taste good. That something is often sugar, which means low-fat foods are often higher in calories than the regular version. A good rule of thumb: if you’re eating 2,000 calories per day, aim for 30% calories from fat, or about 66 grams.
4. Serving Sizes
There’s no doubt that our food portions are getting larger and larger. Take a simple burger. A few decades ago, it would have been a simple 3 oz patty. Now? It’s mainstream to have it be at least 6 oz topped with loads of cheese, bacon and mayonnaise. I recommend that everyone spend about a week paying attention to labels and measuring out certain foods that we tend to overeat at home, like cereal, rice and pasta.
The easiest way to do portion control at home is to use your hand to measure your food. For example one handful of rice should be enough as a portion. The trick is to use the ‘hand’ of the person who is actually going to eat it. Smaller person or a child will have a proportionally smaller portion because they (and their hand is smaller).
Black coffee with a little bit of milk is great; but over the years, coffee has morphed into a decadent dessert, with some speciality coffees weighing in at more than 600 calories! As with everything, watch your portion sizes and the add-ons like sweeteners, extra flavoured sirups, marshmallows, extra chocolate sauce & whipped cream. To keep your coffee to 200 calories or less, opt for a small with semi or skimmed milk.
I’m sure there are more than five food traps to avoid whilst eating healthily, so I’d love to know what are your favourite tips?
Love as always