Are you a victim of the health halo?
The term isn’t as scary as it seems, but it may be the reason your diet isn’t getting you the results you want. “Health halo” refers to the perception that a food is low in calories, fat or sugar because of its reputation.
Something being low in fat or calories doesn’t necessarily mean it’s healthy. I’ve compiled eight great examples for you here. Enjoy!
Granola Mix and Granola Bars
Oatmeal, fruit and nuts are all healthy for you, so why wouldn’t they be just as healthy combined into a snack? The problem isn’t the ingredients, but the added sugar that ends up packing 500 or more calories in a single cup or bar!
Better Idea: Find a high-fiber, low-sugar version of your favorite granola – or, opt for some rolled oats with some fresh cut fruit mixed in. Delicious!
So, you just powered through a workout. Time to grab a Vitamin Water or bottle of Gatorade? No! Many of these drinks are marketed as healthy, but in reality they contain just as many calories and grams of sugar as a bottle of Coca-Cola… sometimes even more!
Better Idea: Just drink water! It’s truly the best drink for your body. And if you need a little caffeine? A cup of black coffee or green tea will perk you up without loading your body with liquid calories, just save this for later in the day as post workout your body truly need a few chugs of good ol’ plain water.
Who doesn’t love a good smoothie? They taste amazing and are a great way to get fruits and protein on the go. The problem? Store-bought smoothies – either from mixes or your local juice spot – are often overloaded with sugar in order to make them taste good to the masses. These drinks can set you back hundreds of calories.
Better Idea: Make your own fresh smoothies at home with your favorite fruits and veggies, a little almond milk, ice, chia seeds and some protein powder or greek yogurt mixed in. Try to keep the veggie to fruit ratio 2:1 and really ramp up the nutrient content by adding some vitamin-packed spinach or kale to your concoction before you blend.
Much like granola, the chief ingredients of trail mix – like nuts and raisins – aren’t bad for you. However, the store-bought trail mix often has a ton of chocolate mixed in, along with yogurt-covered dried fruit, crackers and other ingredients that amp up the calorie and sugar factor big time.
Better Idea: Grab a handful of almonds or raisins for when you need a pick-me-up on the go. You’ll get much-needed protein and carbs without all the added junk. And don’t be spooked by the fat content of nuts! A healthy diet actually does require a decent amount of good fats, and nuts are a great source.
Most Protein Bars
To be honest, most protein bars aren’t any better for you than eating a Snickers or a Butterfinger bar post-workout. Sure, they contain protein, but also contain a bunch of sugar and fat. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration even warned the makers of KIND nutrition bars to stop marketing them as “health foods” because of the calorie and sugar content.
Better Idea: Refuel after your workout with protein that comes in whole food form, like almonds or bananas. If you must get a protein bar, look for one that contains the less than 7g of sugar and at least 15g of protein. Better yet, make your own protein bars at home!
There was a time in the early 1990s when food manufacturers started producing fat-free foods because consumers thought fat in food = fat on the body. However, fat is not bad for you! It’s vital for you to consume fat as a part of your diet, and no-fat foods are often infused with chemicals to replace the taste lost by extracting fat.
Better Idea: Watch your fat intake, but don’t shy away from eating foods that contain fat. Whole foods are much, much better for you than processed foods created in a lab. Opt for a serving of avocado, drizzle some olive oil on your food here and there, or grab a handful of almonds!
This has nothing to do with gluten, but everything to do with what whole wheat bread is usually made from. Most so-called whole wheat isn’t made with whole grains, but with enriched white flour that digests rapidly in your body, prompting a big blood sugar spike and crash.
Better Idea: Look for breads that have “whole wheat flour” listed as the number one ingredient. These are the breads that are actually whole wheat. If the first ingredient says “enriched wheat flour” this is simply white flour in disguise!
Yogurt is fantastic for your digestive system – and it tastes pretty great too. However, store-bought versions of your favorite snack are often – you guessed it – filled with unnecessary sugar.
Better Idea: Opt for Natural Flavor Greek yogurt and mix in your own fruits or honey. You’ll get all of the protein of the yogurt without upwards of 30 grams of sugar in one little container.
To avoid these, and other unhealthy foods in disguise, read the labels! Look for foods that have less than 15g of sugar per 100g serving and try to minimize the amount of ingredients on any given label. Less ingredients = more natural and healthier for you! 🙂