Eat because food is on the table and your last meal might just be that quick granola bar at lunch. You may eat it even though it tastes awful because you can’t hurt grandma’s feelings. You might eat because you’re bored sometimes, or because you’re sad. Sometimes you might feel like you eat because you earned it.
Whatever your reason for eating, a relatively agreed upon reason is that you’re eating to be healthy, or at least doing your best to become healthier. You gave up that super scrumptious looking ice cream with hot fudge and sprinkles for some low-fat or fat-free froyo because you’re trying to have the best health possible. I get it. You know what really isn’t fun? Eating the wrong foods that you deemed to be the health foods, and find out that it’s actually worse for you than before.
We’ve compiled a list of 10 different health foods we’ve sacrificed our other food for. These foods really aren’t doing us any favors, so we’ve provided some yummy and healthier alternatives for you to use instead.
1. Low-fat or Fat-free Yogurt
Doesn’t this one just grind your gears? When you see fat-free or low-fat you instantly think, “This has to be better for me because fat is bad.” Wrong-o! For years, we have been trying to end this war on fat; when in reality, it is important to our health! Fat is what you burn when you’re not doing anything, fat gives us energy, and fat is a key part of our diet. When fat is supplemented with harmful chemicals and preservatives and SO MUCH MORE SUGAR, it actually hurts us more than it helps us.
- Regular, original yogurt.
- Try just plain yogurt, spicing it up with fruit yourself.
- Everybody likes parfaits. Am I right?
2. Fruit Smoothies
Jamba Juice, how could you? Fruit smoothies are more fruit juice and super sugared-up yogurt/sherbert than fruit these days. Although they taste heavenly, they really aren’t all that good for you! However, if you want to snag a Jamba on your way to work, make sure to get the smallest size, as this will keep the calories and sugar as low as it can go.
- Freshly squeezed juices.
- Channel your inner chef and make your own smoothie!
- Use some plain yogurt, milk, and your favorite fruits.
- You’ll be so much more filled by the time lunch rolls around, cutting your snack time and adding more energy.
3. Naked Juice
In case you thought that you could get out of making your own smoothie and turn to the juice above all juices, think again. I’ve definitely snagged a Naked after a workout, thinking the fruit and veggies in my Green Machine were gonna give me power for the whole day! However, Naked packs a whopping 60 grams of sugar per bottle. While this isn’t added sugar, and the fructose within it comes from the fruit, it is still way more than your body should have at one sitting. Juicing your fruits also takes away the fiber within them, leaving you practically starving and itching for that cannoli you saw at Starbucks.
- Eat the fruit itself, rather than the juice form.
- Fruit will fill you up, while adding the necessary fiber to your diet.
- Seriously – just squeeze your own juice or make your own smoothie.
4. Flavored Milk (Soy, Almond, Coconut)
I understand that lactose intolerant people have it hard when morning comes around. All you want is cereal, but all that’s in the fridge is regular milk. However, these alternative milk companies pack in the sugar and preservatives like nobody’s business, otherwise almond milk would have a much shorter shelf life.
- You don’t have to cut out soy, almond, or coconut milk completely.
- Just make sure you buy the “unsweetened” boxes, with 0 grams of sugar!
5. Sports Drinks
Are you serious Gatorade? Yes, you’re giving us all the electrolytes and potassium we want (so shoutout to you for that), but did you really need to load on that extra 21 grams of sugar as well? Look’s like I need to hit the treadmill again after that.
- Try coconut water.
- Or post workout powders.
6. Energy Bars
More like Reese’s 2.0, especially if we’re talking about the nutritional value. Energy bars sound like the greatest idea, but these otherwise healthy snacks are riddled with sweeteners, white flour, and high-fructose corn syrup.
- Just look for bars that have LESS THAN 15 grams of sugar.
- Also look for as little saturated fat as possible (less than 2 grams).
- Sprinkle with tons of fiber and protein, and then you’re ready to go!
7. Reduced- Fat Peanut Butter
Peanut butter is absolutely fabulous. Nut butter is filled with healthy fats and proteins that provide enough energy and fullness to help you go about your day until your next meal without feeling famished. However, whenever fat is reduced it just adds oils with the worst types of fats and even more sugar to keep it yummy.
- Reduce your protein size of a regular peanut butter.
- Slather that on some celery and you’re good to go!
- Snag some natural peanut butter next time, where peanuts are the only ingredient.
8. Prepared Salads
I’m not going anti-leafy-green-veggies here, but rather anti-everything-else-in-the-salad. The bacon, the deep-fried meats, the cheese, croutons, and creamy dressings are a lot of carbs and calories you really don’t need. The lettuce isn’t enough to make that salad healthy, my friends.
- Just saying “No” is a wonderful principle, especially when it applies to croutons or any of the other no-no’s listed above.
- You can do a dressing, but ask for it on the side, so you are in control of how much you’re using.
- Tip: Dip your fork into the dressing first and use what’s on it to cover your salad with each super healthy bite.
9. Margarine and Butter
It’s got trans-fat. It’s completely artificial. It’s got loads of vegetable oil. Ladies and gentlemen, let’s give a big welcome to margarine! Margarine came into play when butter was accused of having too much saturated fat. Margarine is supposed to be better for your heart health, but is also loaded with trans-fat out the wazoo. Actually, butter (as unsalted as you can make it) is totally fine. The fight between the two honestly comes down to trans-fat versus saturated fat, Meanwhile, neither option is very good for your body. Honestly, your best shot to eat healthier would be to avoid both margarine and butter if you can.
- Unsalted butter, whipped.
- Whipped, trans-fat free margarine.
- Olive oil.
- Nut butters.
- No matter what, try and limit your intake and monitor your portion sizes.
10. Fake Healthy Chips
Veggie chips are the absolute worst. You gave up your Cheeto Puff’s for some fake health food that is literally just the color of whatever veggies are listed. Sadly, dye is the only difference between both types of chips. It’s still just potato starch, corn flour, and deep-fried lies being serving to us. Pita chips are baked rather than fried, so props to them for that, but the healthiness ends there. Pita chips are made from refined grains and enriched wheat flour, giving them next to none of the nutrients they are trying to peddle at you.
- Pita chips with whole grain flour.
- Make your own (like in the picture above).
- If your craving that satisfying crunch, try and eat the actual veggies rather than the fried/baked kind, as they retain all their nutrients this way.
Watch for sneaky sugars and unhealthy fats, and you’ll be on your way to spotting unhealthy health food in no time!
Did any of these foods fool you and sneak their way into your pantry? Sound off in the comments below. Also, let us know your own healthy alternatives!
Information courtesy of Shakeology.
Featured Photo Credit: Yogurt gif, Fruit smoothies, Naked, Flavored milks, Gatorade on reporter gif, Unhealthy granola bars, Peanut butter toast, Parks and Rec salad gif, Butter/Margarine, Homemade healthy chips