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Healthy Articles

Improving Overall Health – “Health Foods” That Aren’t

January 21, 2015


Choosing a healthy, nutritious diet is one of the most important aspects of losing weight and improving overall health. On the surface, choosing healthy foods seems simple: fruits, vegetables, and whole grains are obviously healthy foods; burgers, fries, and milkshakes aren't. 

Unfortunately, many foods advertised as "health foods” are actually far from healthy- and eating them too often could sabotage your weight loss efforts and leave you feeling sick and sluggish.


1. Granola: often considered a healthy choice for breakfast and snacks, granola does boast some nutritional benefits from the nuts, dried fruit, and oats it contains. However, granola tends to be high in sugar and fat. Problematic to your weight loss goals, it is very high in calories: many brands contain 150-200 calories for only a quarter of a cup. This means that eating a full bowl of granola could set you back 500-1000 calories. Instead: try a low-sugar, whole-grain cereal (150 calories or less for a one-cup serving is a good estimate), or oatmeal sweetened with a little raw sugar or maple syrup. 


2. Dried Fruit: this supposedly healthy snack often contains added sugar, and because all the water has been removed, it's easy to eat a lot without feeling full. Instead: Stick with nutrient- and fiber-rich raw fruits. If you do choose dried fruit, pick brands with no added sugar, artificial colors or preservatives.


3. Nut Butters: with a healthy serving of protein and good fats, nut butters can be a great choice for a snack. The problem is that most are very high-calorie (180-210 calories for 2 tablespoons) and it's difficult to stick to the recommended serving size. Therefore, if you're trying to lose weight, it may be best to skip nut butters altogether if you know you can't stay in the 2-tablespoon range.


4. "Reduced-Fat" or "Fat-Free" foods: It's a common misconception that if a food doesn't contain any fat, it can't make you gain weight or keep you from losing weight. Just because a food is "fat-free" does not mean it is healthy or that it cannot sabotage your weight loss goals. Fat-free foods often contain added sugar, flour, salt, or artificial additives to replace the fat. In addition, people tend to overeat these foods because they assume that they are healthy and lower-calorie. A good rule of thumb: if the full-fat or regular version of a product would not be considered a health food (such as chips or candy), the reduced-fat version should still be considered a treat-- and the serving size should be the same as the original version.


You don't need to completely eliminate these foods from your diet if you don't want to, but stick to the recommended serving size and think of them as indulgences, not daily staples. 


Contact us with questions or comments about your journey to health and weight loss and how we can help you get there.


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