You can’t seem to drop the extra pounds, your cholesterol is on an upward climb, and your blood pressure is far from regulated- even though you’re eating “healthy”? A review of studies by John Hopkins University concluded that by 2015 a full 75% of the American population will be overweight. What’s even more alarming is that this at a time when we are spending more money on so called ‘health foods’, than ever before in history. Perhaps we think we are investing in healthy foods- when in reality our money might be in food that’s glowing with a ‘health halo’. Don’t be fooled – lets evaluate some of the offenders that can get you into trouble.
- Energy Bars: Although most contain some fiber and protein, the excess calories in our mini-meal are not needed. Your better bet in leaving your taste buds cheering would be to choose a Snickers bar, the same range in caloric balance as most energy bars on the market- which seems counterproductive in making a ‘healthy’ choice. Bottom Line: If a snack bar is easiest to tide you over, choose one that contains a moderate amount of calories, 2-4 grams fiber and at least 10 grams protein
- Granola: The term granola sounds healthy and can be when it’s loaded with nutrition-packed ingredients. But some, especially store-bought granolas, are full of things that will send your diet spinning off-track. Granola cereals often contain oils, including high in saturated fat coconut oil, loaded with sugary sweeteners, nuts and other high calorie foods. A typical 2/3-cup serving has 220 calories and 17 grams of sugar. What’s more, most people pour 2-cup portions – that’s a whopping 660 calories and 51 grams sugar! Bottom Line: Watch the portions. Have just 1/4 cup, and mix it with another less caloric cereal or sprinkle 2 to 3 tablespoons of granola on low-fat Greek yogurt. This way, you’ll be able to enjoy the crunch and flavor of granola, while minimizing the amount you eat.
- Salads: A typical green salad is low in saturated fats and calories and high in nutritional value. However, too much of the wrong ingredients can make a healthy salad take a turn for the worse. Extras like croutons, bacon bits, cheeses, and fried or processed meats add excessive amounts of calories. Not to forget all would be piled underneath a blanket of creamy dressing, an easy 1300 calories to spend that most of us don’t have. Even “healthy” foods like nuts and dried fruit can add up if you load your salad with them. Remember, just because its good for you does not mean eat as much as you want! Bottom Line: Request your salad to be prepared with NO dressing (you could save up to 300-500 calories) and no croutons (another 70 calorie savings per serving). Instead, request these extras on the side- in hopes you will use less, or toss your salad with 1 to 2 teaspoons olive oil, unlimited vinegar and lots of veggies..
- Smoothies: It’s true, fruit smoothies can be loaded with nutrition, and seem like a tasty way to help get your recommended fruit servings in, but they also contain plenty of calories- most from added sugar (often called turbinado). Many well-known smoothie restaurants pack in 500+ calories in a 20 oz glass! That’s the same amount of calories found in 12 glazed doughnut holes! Bottom Line: If you’re buying a smoothie out: get the small size, ask for the “skinny” version and make sure it has protein! Or make a nutrient-rich homemade version with 1 to 2 servings of fruit, 1/2 cup of skim milk, 6 oz low-fat Greek yogurt and water/ice to your liking. If you want to really give it a nutrient punch, add in a cup or two of fresh spinach. It might look funny, but with fruit in the smoothie, you won’t even taste the green stuff!
- Sandwich Shops: A simple sub sandwich makes a satisfying and reasonably healthy meal. Veer off in the wrong direction, though, and you can easily consume more than 1,000 calories, not including the inevitable chips and soda. Sodium is a big issue too as many processed meats and condiments can add up to almost a day’s worth of sodium! And, of course, saturated fat in creamy sauces and big ole buns tack on the calories. Bottom Line: Calories from sauces and dressing can add up quick, so ask for it on the side and use just about a tablespoon, or choose low-calorie dressing or honey mustard for about 50 calories. Load up on extra veggies―they lend moisture, nutrients, and satisfying heft to your sandwich. Don’t forget to add fiber by ordering your sandwich on thin whole or multigrain bread, topped with nuts, seeds, or oats. Pair the sandwich with a side salad and water and you are good to go!