We all want to eat better and more nutritiously but these days, “healthy” is sometimes nothing more than a marketing gimmick. Don’t be fooled. Here’s a list of items you probably did not intend to be eating so much of.
1. Protein bars
They are really no better than glorified candy bars, packed with a whole lot of processed chemicals like artificial colours and flavours, preservatives, refined oils and a wallop of sugar. So if you want to munch on protein bars, be sure to choose those that contain only nuts, fruits and seeds, or those that list as few ingredients as possible (and you should be able to pronounce them). Each serving should also not contain more than 200 calories and 20g of sugar.
2. Sports beverages
Unless you’re working out for more than an hour and perspiring profusely, or exercising for a prolonged period of time in sweltering weather, there’s really no need to reach for a sports drink. These are basically flavoured water packed with electrolytes and lots of sugar you don’t need. And if you’re just drinking them as a beverage, know that you’re basically guzzling a high-calorie soda.
3. Flavoured instant oatmeal
Yes, regular rolled or steel-cut oats make for a nutritious whole-grain breakfast, but if you think that instant flavoured oatmeal topped with a smattering of berries or nuts are a convenient and healthy way to enjoy it, think again. Not only do they contain lots of sugar and sodium, that few token dehydrated berries ain’t going to do you much good. It’s better to have regular oatmeal instead dressed up with fresh fruit. Add a bit of honey if you have a sweet tooth.
It could pass off as a grain to the uninitiated, but the couscous you’re having in your salad? It’s beads of pasta. Have quinoa instead. That’s a whole grain that adds virtue to your diet.
5. Spinach pasta and noodles
They may be green and the picture of what you should eat for good health, but spinach pasta and noodles contain negligible amounts of the vegetable, and definitely do not justify you eating a heaped serving of the stuff. By all means, enjoy your noodles in moderate amounts, but have it with actual spinach instead, or with a scrumptious spinach salad on the side.
6. Veggie chips
They make you feel more virtuous than when you munch on potato chips, but veggie chips really aren’t much better. Sliced ultra thinly and then baked or fried, they look nothing like the vegetables they once were and contain almost none of the nutrition either. Munch on raw carrot sticks or Japanese cucumber slices instead if you want a nutritious snack that packs a crunch.
7. Frozen yoghurt
While it’s mostly true that frozen yoghurt is healthier than regular full-fat ice cream, don’t forget that it’s still an indulgence that is super high in sugar. Enjoy a half-cup serving when you want a treat. Just be careful not to pile on more of the sweet stuff, such as fruit that has been processed with sugar or rich sauce toppings.
8. Low-fat muffins
Like almost all things low-fat, muffins that are reduced in fat are likely to be packed with other stuff to make up for the diminished taste. It’s usually sugar, and it could be artificial flavouring. What’s worse is that they are usually less satisfying than their full-fat cousins, which means that the trivial amount of calories you’ve saved on may not even be worth it. Also be wary of healthy-sounding bran muffins, which could be more calorific than a doughnut in the worst cases, thanks to all that butter, sugar and flour the high-fibre bran has been baked with.
9. Rice crackers
Sure, they are light and airy and low on calories. Rice crackers make you feel like you’re eating nothing because that’s precisely what you’re doing. They lack fibre and have little nutritional value, plus tastier varieties have probably been flavoured with sugar and are high in sodium. By all means, have them if you like, but don’t think of them as nutritious or diet food — they do your body no favours.
So, have you been eating right? Hope this article has given you some food for thought. For all you die-hard foodies and health gurus, find out how you can grow your own counter top salad and food-related shows you should not miss!