Eating healthy but not seeing results? Chances are the foods you are eating aren't as healthy as you think they are. After years of conditioning, we almost instantly associate words like light, yogurt and low-fat with being the healthier option. While that certainly can be the case, these terms can mislead us. To ensure your next grocery haul truly is healthy, I've listed a few of the common culprits... you know, the "healthy" foods that aren't so healthy.
1) Frozen Yogurt: Despite being low in calories and fat, 'fro yo' is by no means healthier than ice cream. Frozen yogurt companies tend to rely on sugar & artificial sweeteners, colourings, additives and chemically processed ingredients to convert yogurt into something that tastes like an indulgent dessert. Toppings like caramel sauce, biscuit crumbles, brownie pieces and chocolate chips are often served with fro yo, and if you're not careful about your choice of toppings, you may end up being calorie-bombed.
What to eat instead: Opt for a small portion of ice cream made from real ingredients (e.g. Häagen-Dazs) that will actually leave you satisfied.
2) Reduced-Fat Peanut Butter: Nut butter's a classic example of when the full-fat varieties are a healthier option. To compensate for the loss of flavour and texture that occurs after removing part of the fat in a product, manufacturers replace it with large amounts of sugar and chemicals. Because it usually takes a larger amount of reduced-fat peanut butter to feel satisfied, chances are you'll end up eating more calories than if you stuck with the real stuff...without any of the nutrition that comes with the latter.
What to eat instead: To reap the full heart-healthy benefits of nuts, opt for natural or organic varieties. If you're worried about the high calorie content, limit yourself to one or two tablespoons daily.
3) Diet Drinks: Aside from being 0 calories, there's nothing really 'diet' about diet drinks. Loaded with artificial sweeteners like aspartame and saccharin, drinks like Diet Coke or Pepsi can actually lead to weight gain due to their effect on blood sugar levels. Like sugar, artificial sweeteners trigger the release of the hormone insulin, which sends the body into fat storage mode and leads to overall weight gain.
What to drink instead: For a more refreshing and hydrating beverage, opt for fresh coconut water - it's filled with electrolytes. Alternatively try infusing your water with mint leaves, fresh fruit slices and lime juice.
4) Granola: Although loaded with nutrient-dense oats, nuts & seeds, granola also packs in plenty of sugar and refined oils. If you're not cautious about portion size, those calories can add up quicker than you realise: 1 cup of granola contains up to 470 calories and a whopping 30g of sugar!
What to eat instead: Non-sugary cereals & oatmeal are both more nutritious breakfast options, and won't wreck havoc to your blood sugar levels. If you don't want to forego granola completely, treat it as more of a garnish and try to make it at home so that YOU control the amount of sugar and other ingredients that go in.
5) Multigrain Bread: The term 'multigrain' merely means that a product consists of more than one grain. Multigrain breads are typically made with refined grains, which means you're not getting the full nutritional benefit of the whole grain. Terms like bleached or unbleached enriched wheat flour indicate the presence of refined flour.
What to eat instead: To ensure your bread is full of fibre, B vitamins & minerals, scan the ingredient list to ensure that all the ingredients are whole grains. Keep an eye out for sneaky ingredients that might be lurking such as vegetable oils and glucose.
6) Margarine: If you have replaced your butter with margarine, it's time to switch back. While butter has been demonised as being high in saturated fat, it still remains a better option than margarine. Essentially margarine is a highly synthetic and unpleasant-tasting concoction laced with additives and cheap, low-grade oils refined on an industrial scale. In fact, various studies (see for example here) have revealed that regular consumption of margarine leads to an increased risk of a heart attack due to its trans fat content.
What to eat instead: For a healthy dose of monounsaturated fatty acids which will undoubtedly boost your heart health, try adding olive oil or mashed avocado to your toast.