- Eating healthy can be a real challenge.
- Packaging and creative advertising might confuse you about healthy vs. unhealthy choices
- Some foods labeled as healthy might actually be not good for you.
- These “healthy” foods are usually processed and contain fillers and more calories than you initially thought
You feel great about your decision to go for healthy food choices. But how sure are you that the food you are eating is really healthy? Food items labeled “healthy” populate your favorite grocery aisle but you should know by now that many of them are just junk foods in disguise.
If you’re unaware, don’t be too hard on yourself. Those products are just creatively and cleverly advertised and passed off as healthy. If you’re conscious about eating healthy, it’s time to make wise decisions about food choices. Here are 17 surprisingly unhealthy foods disguised as healthy and what you can swap them with.
#1. Vegetable patties
If you’re cutting on meat and you believe you’re eating healthy since it’s vegetables, you’re wrong. Many versions of veggie patties are frozen and processed and contain fillers instead of actual good greens. Check the ingredients and make sure that vegetables are listed at the beginning.
#2. Veggie chips
Veggie chips are perfect as healthy snacks. They’re tasty and they’re made of veggies, so what could go wrong? Only the fact that they contain more carbs and calories. Most commercial veggie chips contain potato flour, cornstarch and sunflower listed at the beginning of the ingredients list. Go for baked potato chips instead.
#3. Multigrain bread
These breads actually contain more refined grains, which means you don’t get the fiber from whole grains leading to increased blood sugar levels. A healthy bread should be made of whole grain. Check the list to see if they contain the word “whole” before each grain, instead of the word “refined.”
#4. Flavored instant oatmeal
They’re instant and a great quick breakfast choice so what’s bad about them? Most packets of instant oatmeal have more sodium and sugar compared to regular oats. The first ingredient on the list should be “oats,” contain less than 140mg of sodium and six grams of sugar per serving. Want a much healthier option? Go for rolled or steel-cut oats then enhance with your own cinnamon or fresh fruits and berries.
#5. Diet sodas
This is not a big secret. They might save you some calories but sugar substitutes found in sodas still has a negative impact on your body.
#6. Energy bars
They’re packed with more sugar and calories than some regular candy bars. If you have to go for energy bars, go for ones with less than 200 calories and 20 grams of sugar per serving.
#7. Trail mix
Trail mix is a handy snack that gives you protein, fiber and carbs for sustained energy. However, be aware of those sold in grocery stores that come with unhealthy add-ons. A healthier option is something that you made containing mostly nuts, seeds, dried fruit and dark chocolate.
#8. Banana Chips
Banana chips will never be as healthy or healthier than the original fruit source.
#9. Bottled Green Tea
It’s convenient to have bottled coffees or teas but these versions are usually packed with more sugars and even sugar substitutes. A healthier option is to brew your own at home, add some ice and put in your favorite tumbler.
#10. Boxed vegetable pasta
Going for veggie pasta instead of regular pasta isn’t much of a healthier decision. A healthier alternative is spaghetti squash.
This is a shocker. Sushi is well-loved; it has vegetables and fresh fish, so why are they on the list? Depending on what you order, Sushi usually has white rice and mayo.
Simply put it – sushi is mostly rice presented beautifully. An alternative is to go to a restaurant that uses brown rice for their rolls and uses avocado as a healthy fat.
#12. Pre-made smoothies
Fruit juices are usually used as base for pre-made smoothies, making them loaded with sugars and calories. A much healthier option is to make your own at home using vegetables and fresh fruits, low-fat milk and yogurt.
#13. Reduced-fat Peanut Butter
They’re no better than regular peanut butter. If you want healthier peanut butter go for one that has no added oils, trans fast and cane sugar on the ingredients list.
#14. Most commercial salad dressing
Bottled salad dressing is packed with sodium. Low-fat variants contains more sugar to improve palatability. Others are advertised as made with healthy oils like olive oil. To be sure, check if the list indeed mentions olive oil as the first oil on the list instead of safflower or sunflower oil.
#15. Flavored yogurt
You’re better off with a plain yogurt flavored with fresh fruits and berries because those that are packaged as flavored contain more sugars. Light yogurts won’t even help as they are artificially sweetend.
#16. Packaged Turkey
Turkey is a great ingredient for a satisfying and healthy lunch. However, packaged ones contain high levels of sodium. Go for low-sodium slices, preferably those that have only 350 mg of sodium per two-ounce serving. A much healthier alternative is to roast your own turkey and slice it up.
#17. Canned Soup
Sure, canned soup can be a convenient way to have vegetables in your meal but they’re high in sodium. Nutrition experts say that most canned foods are not nutritious and they can’t compare with their fresh counterparts. You can use low-sodium canned soup but a better alternative is to make your own vegetable soup from scratch.