What do you think how health focused is your diet? How conscious you are when doing your weekly grocery shopping and how do you decide what products to buy? Have you got a regular list of foods you keep buying or do you make instinct decision based on offers and the marketing blurb on the packages?
There is no right or wrong answer to this. It’s only normal that everybody wants to be healthier and make better choices. The food industry has realised it too, so the marketing experts make sure they highlight features of a product that implies it’s healthier than it really is. Of course, this doesn’t apply to all companies but you need to be a savvy shopper and religious label checker to make sure you got what you thought you bought.
We collated a list of food types you need to be aware. This is not to say never have them, but ensure you check the labels, both front and back and make your decision to suit your needs. Here are 5 ‘healthy’ foods that are not so healthy.
1. Breakfast cereals and granola
Many people when I ask about their breakfast say “I eat a healthy breakfast”, then when we dig into details turns out they have cereal or granola with milk or toast with jam. As healthy you may think they are unfortunately most cereals and granola products are packed with sugars and sometimes fat. You may end up consuming a ton of calories in the morning without much nutrition value, even if there are some added vitamins or Calcium included.
Advice: Never believe the ads or the front of the packaging. Turn around and check the ingredient list, watch out for hydrogenated fats or oils, maple syrup, sugar or anything finishing with -ose (fructose, dextrose, etc). Also check the energy content and serving size. You can end up having 500+ calories for breakfast and feel hungry again two hours later.
2. Multigrain or seven grains products
In many cases the bakery product is still based on plain wheat flour and they add the grains or seeds as a ‘flavour’ to it.
Advice: If your intention is to get more fiber in your diet and would like to choose grains to support that, ensure you check the label and buy bakery products that say “wholegrain” in the ingredients.
3. Deli foods
They are available pretty much anywhere and may seem to be a better choice over fast food, but turkey and chicken breast can be loaded with sodium and salad dressings are often made with high-fat mayonnaise and other oils.
Advice: Ask the staff in the shop for ingredients and from where they source the meat products.
4. Low-fat or non-fat dairy products
Sometimes to ensure the product still tastes good dairy companies would use fat fillers in low-fat products which increases its carbohydrate and sugar content. Depending on the amount it can be a problem to some people.
Advice: Check the labels and ensure you choose a product that fits in with your nutrition plan if you have one. Look for products that are naturally low in fat, like Icelandic yoghurt.
5. Fruit juices
The main problem with fruit juices is that they contain high levels of sugar. Packaged juices are worse, as they can have additives and other unhealthy ingredients, but even freshly squeezed 100% orange juice poses a risk. Imagine how much orange you can eat when it comes to the fruit. 3-5 full oranges can be squeezed into a glass of orange juice that you can drink within half an hour. Would you be able to eat that amount of oranges?
Advice: Go for water for hydration, feel free to use bits of fruit for flavouring, like lemon or orange slice, berries or even cucumber. Enjoy fruits as they are, once or twice a day.
This list could go on mentioning seasoned nuts, ‘no added sugar’ products that are filled with sweeteners, high energy and cereal bars that provide the majority of their energy from sugar and fat, soy products that also contain unnecessary amount of sugar.
The bottom line is that even foods that are deemed healthy may contain more sugar and fat than you’d think, there can be major differences between brands which is why we advise all our Evolutis clients, parents and children as well to get into the habit of checking labels and watching out for certain ingredients.
If you have any questions or would like to have a better understanding of why and what type of foods to avoid, feel free to get in touch with our team.
David Knowles is the founder of Evolutis, Dad x 5 & wannabe singer songwriter!