May 5, 2014

Healthy you say? Think again!

We all know what foods are unhealthy for us, like that warm cheesy hamburger, that greasy pepperoni slice, and that creamy Twix bar. The thing about these foods,though, is that we know we aren't helping ourselves in the nutritional department, but we understand that eating them every once in a while isn't a big deal. 

But then there's "healthy" foods that we think are good for us, or at least not too bad, yet in reality are some of the culprits behind some of our weight and body issues. What foods can possibly be sabotaging our waistlines you ask? Read on and I will give you my top five "healthy" foods that aren't as healthy as we think. 

1-> 'Juicing' Juices 

Hate to break it to all the juicing fanatics, drinking those green mixtures all day isn't as healthy as you think. If you've made your own, you know it takes pounds of vegetables and fruit to get a 16oz glass, which may be one of the reasons why we think it's so good for us. On average drinking a glass would be equivalent to 12 servings of fruits and vegetables, but it also concentrates the natural sugars and removes the fiber, which is what slows down the absorption of sugars into our bloodstream. Unless you are doing an all liquid cleanse (which will be my next blog topic) I wouldn't recommend replacing your meals with 'juicing' juices. 

2-> Salads
Just because it's called a salad doesn't automatically mean that it's good for you. Actually, there are some salads that have more calories than a Big Mac, yikes! Some of the offenders: sliced deli meats, fried chicken, cheeses, croutons, crispy strips, bacon, glazed almonds/nuts, creamy based dressings, and pre-made/on-the-go salads. 

The key is to stay away from the already made dishes like Chef, Cobb, and Ceasar. Try and make your salad at home so you know what and how much goes in it. Try and go for healthier alternatives for toppings such as grilled chicken, raw sliced almonds, sunflower or flax seeds. If you want cheese, try using feta instead of the heavier softer cheeses. Also, try and use half a lemon or red vinegar with evoo (extra virgin olive oil), pepper, and a pinch of salt as your dressing. 

When ordering a salad at a restaurant, make healthier substitutions, or simply 86 (remove) the topping offenders. Always ask for the dressing on the side, and instead of pouring it all over the salad, try dipping your fork into with every bite. 

3-> Flavored Greek yogurt
Greek yogurt is everywhere these days. This thick, creamy, and high protein snack was put on our grocery shelves in the late 90s by the brand Fage. Now every brand of yogurt has jumped on this trend and started to add artificial junk to it. The worst are the flavored Greek yogurts, which have fake flavors, sweeteners, added sugars, and less protein per serving than the nonfat plain Greek yogurt. 

On top of all the added junk in these flavored yogurts, people then add other no no's such as granola (#5 on my list), dried fruits, and cereals. I suggest buying nonfat plain Greek yogurt, adding fresh fruit, some raw almonds, a tsp of chia seeds or wheat germ, a dash of cinnamon, and if desired a drizzle of pure honey. 

4-> Whole and Multi Grain Breads 

A lot of people think they're doing the right thing by choosing wheat on their sandwiches, or picking up the 12-grain 
at the supermarket, but the sad fact is that these breads aren't that much better for you than the plain old white bread, as they're made with refined and processed grains, which means you aren't getting the full nutritional benefit of an actual whole grain. 
Start by reading labels to make sure it's truly whole grain or wheat. If the first ingriedient on the list is a refined flour (other words to look out for are "bleached" or "unbleached refined") it's most definitely not "whole wheat" or "whole grain", and is essentially  white bread with a brown tint. So next time you're at a restaurant or ordering a sandwhich and you can't read labels, just take the top bread off, which will cut out half the calories and carbs, as well as lower the amount of your refined flour intake. 

5-> Granola
"Granola" ironically is attributed to healthy   types, yet this crunchy snack is anything but. Most of the granolas are made with rolled oats, puffed rice, and sugar, none of which have a real nutritional value. It's packed with calories, fat, and sugar (some stock up to 450 calories per cup!) and are low in vitamins and minerals. 

Plus, granola is a food that's hard to digest and can cause bloating, gas, and other stomach issues. So instead of topping your yogurt with it, why not use a high fiber cereal, a serving of wheat germ, or a handful of raw almonds instead? 

So I hope you enjoyed my top five list. There were plenty of others that didn't make the cut (such as peanut butter, gluten-free foods, and fancy coffee drinks) but maybe I'll have another blog post on these bad boys in the near future. In the meantime, I hope you can use this list while making your everyday choices, and give yourself yet another reason to smile! 

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