5 'Healthy' Foods that Can Sabotage Your Nutrition Efforts


These are some of the top foods that may seem 'healthy, but can sabotage your nutrition efforts.

'I eat healthy. Why am I not losing weight?'

I hear this quite often in my nutrition consulting practice. There are so many perceptions about food that circulate in our social media newsfeed, our peer groups, church, work, and so on. One day you hear that coffee is beneficial and has protective effects on reducing your risk of cancer, and then next day it is bad for your health.

As you walk down the grocery aisle, you may think, 'Oh this food is healthy. I read that article a month ago that said gluten-free bread is better than regular bread.' Without realizing it, you’ve put an unhealthy food in your grocery cart.

I spend a good deal of time helping clients clear up misconceptions and myths about nutrition. Societal beliefs teach us that 'I can't eat after 7 pm' or "carbs are bad," and these are some of the main beliefs that prevent people from having a healthy relationship with food. Utilizing science-based nutrition and focusing on being flexible with eating is the way to permanent behavior change.

I promote the idea of 'Everything in moderation' and use the 80/20 rule. Eighty percent of the food I consume comes form a whole food source, and is nutrient dense. Things like kale, apples, oats, and so on; food that grows in the ground or comes from a natural source. Twenty percent can be 'fun foods' like Greek yogurt pops (Yasso is my favorite brand), a protein bar or whole grain waffles. You may be thinking, 'Aren’t those fun foods healthy?' But, any food that is processed should be limited as it has a lower nutrient value.

When you are aware of what healthy food looks like, you’ll be able to tell what your 'fun foods' are and enjoy those sparingly.

Here are 5 'healthy' foods that sabotage your nutrition efforts:

  • Granola. Most brands have excess sugar, and fat, and are made using vegetable oil, butter, and sugar. Turn over any nicely packaged bag of granola and you will see that 1 cup packs 400 calories or more, and up to 30 grams of sugar. We all know we can’t stop at the recommended serving size of ¼ cup! Be cautious about portion size, and be sure to measure it out if you decide to indulge in granola.
  • Low-fat dressings. Often you will see sugar, high-fructose corn syrup and preservatives in low-fat dressings. Bolthouse Farms is one I use and recommend for clients, as it is made from yogurt. It does not have artificial flavors or preservatives and still tastes like dressing should. If you want to make your own dressing, use olive oil, balsamic vinegar, or a squeeze of lemon with fresh herbs to flavor your salad.
  • Protein bars. Or at least the ones laden with extra fat, carbohydrate, calories, and sugar. In addition to all of those factors, many bars have sugar alcohols, which have been linked to causing gastrointestinal symptoms. Select bars that have natural ingredients that you can pronounce like RxBar, which has the basic formula of egg whites, almonds, cashews and dates.
  • Flavored products, like oatmeal or yogurt. One packet of Quaker Maple and Brown Sugar Oatmeal has 12 grams of sugar in it. Added sugar and preservatives make these flavored products unhealthy. Instead, try purchasing the plain version and adding healthier toppings like berries, chia seeds or coconut flakes.
  • Bottled smoothies and juices. Naked Mighty Mango Smoothie may sound healthy, but it packs 57 grams of sugar for a 15.2 oz bottle. Turn the drink over to see what the first ingredient listed is and you will know what the product is predominantly made from. For example, many smoothies that are green may seem healthy, but the first ingredient is orange juice.

Bottom line: Don’t be fooled by advertising, health claims, commercials, or nice packaging. Turn the box, bag or bottle over and be sure to read the nutrition label. You will be glad you did!

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