It looks healthy, it sounds as if it would be healthy and when you take a quick scan at the label there are plenty of ingredients that you know are healthy and yet some of the most popular ‘healthy’ food choices could be the very foods that are derailing your diet. Here are the most common offenders.
Sure, fruit, dairy, yoghurt, wheatgerm, chia seeds, muesli and protein powder are all very nutritious foods but the issue is that when we combine them all, it equates to a complete calorie overload rather than a quick healthy drink on the run. In fact, a regular size smoothie can contain more than 12g of sugar and as many calories as a large meal. So, if you do love your smoothies, stick to just 2-3 key ingredients, choose the smallest size you can and remember, even a small smoothie will have at least 200 calories.
The number of yoghurts available in the supermarket continues to increase, which means that is can be harder to weed out the ‘healthy options’ amongst the high sugar varieties that tend to dominate the shelves. Plain natural or Greek yoghurts tend to be low in sugar, fat and calories but many of the fruit based options can contain as many calories as 2 slices of bread and up to 6 teaspoons of sugar. As a general rule of thumb, the lower the total carbohydrate content and the higher the protein content of your yoghurt, the better it will be for you.
It doesn’t matter if rice has been made into a snack bar, cake, puff or crisp, rice is a dense source of high glycaemic index carbohydrate which means that blood glucose levels rapidly increase, along with the hormone insulin, the hormone that also promotes fat storage in the body. Rice snacks are also low in protein and other key nutrients which mean that they simply offer ‘empty calories’ along with a rapid rise in blood glucose levels rather than long lasting energy. Better snack options when it comes to blood glucose control include corn and rye based cakes and crackers.
Despite the name which instantly suggests all things healthy, vitamin water is simply sugary water with a few vitamins added. While vitamins are important for numerous bodily functions, the vitamins that are commonly added to vitamin water are already consumed in more than adequate amounts of a daily basis from even a very basic diet. Given that a single serve of Vitamin water can contain as much as 5 teaspoons of sugar, you are best to get your vitamins from grains, fruits and vegetables and leave your water as nature intended it.
Fruit muffins and banana bread
Fruit muffins or breads may sound like healthier options than brownies, slices and cakes but the truth is that whether it is a muffin, slice or banana bread, the ingredients are still basically sugar, butter and white flour, which really equates to cake. If you consider that the average muffin or slice of banana bread contains more than 60g of total carbohydrate, or the equivalent of 4 slices of bread, 20-30g of fat and at least 4 teaspoons of sugar, it is safe to say that there is nothing healthy you can say about these café options.
One of the most popular snack choices for children and adults alike, how could a simple muesli bar not be a good choice? Very easily – there is a big difference between natural unprocessed muesli and a processed mix of honey, sugar, dried fruit, fillers, gums and coatings that are found in most commercially available muesli bars. With the average muesli bar containing more than 4 teaspoons of sugar and less than a couple of grams of fibre, avoid processed snacks at all costs and replace with natural yoghurts, nuts or wholegrain crackers for much more nutritious snack food choices.