Healthy eating starts by improving your knowledge. Simply paying attention to the nutrition facts on the foods you buy is a start—always examining the protein, carb (sugar and fiber) and fat make up, as well as serving size. Also, improving your diet involves adding in more high volume, nutrient-dense foods, including vegetables, high quality proteins and complex carbs.
On that note, there are some “healthy” items that many of us have in our cupboards and fridges that are diet destroyers in disguise. If you aren’t paying close attention, you could be consuming hundreds, if not thousands, of high sugar, low nutrition foods that keep you hungry and unsatisfied. While there are a number of such foods, here are five for you to examine more closely!
Granola tends to contain a mixture of nuts, oats and dried fruit, which can start to add up in calories quickly. And in most cases, they are bound together with some form of sugar—the same goes for granola bars. So, be careful when selecting your granola. Be sure it is made with all natural ingredients and doesn’t contain dried fruit that has added sugar. Look for reduced sugar blends, or those that are sweetened with natural sugars like agave or honey. And, pay attention to serving size, as granola tends to be very calorie dense. If you are really ambitious, make your own blend. Also consider adding one or two tablespoons to yogurt to add some crunch without adding too many calories.
Fruit On The Bottom Yogurt
When it comes to yogurt, your best bet is to reach for the plain stuff. Choose a plain yogurt that doesn’t contain added sugar from fruit mixes. Instead mix your fruit, or create your own compote to blend with your yogurt. Cook down mixed berries until they start to soften and form a juice. Let cool, and then add to non-fat Greek yogurt. Add a drop of vanilla and some stevia to sweeten, if desired. One small serving of plain yogurt provides 15 g of protein and just fewer than 100 calories.
Freshly Squeezed Juice
Yes, fruit is healthy for us, but drinking freshly squeezed juice can deliver a whole lot more calories and sugar than you would get from eating a few simple servings per day. A single cup of freshly squeezed orange juice takes about 4 medium-sized oranges to make and provides about 26 g of carbs, 21 of which are from sugar. Instead of drinking a full glass, mix half a glass with water or sparkling water. Green-based juices, on the other hand, will deliver about half the calories and less than half of the carbs too. Consider blending your own green juices and adding a few fruits to the mix that are lower in sugar and higher in fiber like berries or apples. Start with a blend of cucumber, kale and/or spinach.
Not all rice cakes are bad, but the processed mini cakes are better to leave off the grocery list. Rice cakes are typically made from puffed white rice that tends to provide not much more than sugar. They also have a higher glycemic index, because they are made from a simple carbohydrate, although they are low in calories and fat. For a better choice, choose a rice cake that has been made with organic brown rice; it’s still low in calories and provides about 1 g of fiber per cake. To lower the glycemic index even more, top it with a yummy source of healthy fats like avocado or natural nut butter.
We all love them and can appreciate how convenient they are for a quick bite. In addition, protein bars can provide a quick source of energy and a dose of protein when needed. However, if you choose the wrong protein bar, you may end up getting more than you bargained for. Here’s where it’s important to read the label. The nutrition panel will give you everything you need to know—from the calories right down to every ingredient. Determine what kind of proteins are being used: high quality whey or something cheaper? What are the sources of carbs—sugars or whole grains? What kind of fats? Whenever possible choose protein bars made from natural sources that deliver at least 20 g of high quality protein and provide under 250 calories.