John McGran, chief editor at Diet-to-Go, has been covering the fields of diet, fitness and health since 2000. He writes from the perspective of a dieter rather than a dietitian.
Face it friends… we’re suckers for flashy food labels and cleverly worded marketing claims that lead us into temptation by making us think a food or drink is good for us.
Acai berries anyone? You’ve probably seen the deluge of ads for this “amazing… as seen on Oprah… fat fighter… grown in the Amazon rainforest”… blah, blah, blah…
Trouble is, according to the food watchdogs at the Center for Science in the Public Interest, “there’s no evidence whatsoever to suggest that acai pills will help shed pounds, flatten tummies, cleanse colon, enhance sexual desire, or perform any of the other commonly advertised functions.”
A food doesn’t have to claim an exotic heritage to fool us into parting with our money. Our cupboards and fridge doors are crammed with foods touting the healthy buzzwords multigrain, fat-free, and all-natural. Sadly, many of these are the foods that are sabotaging our diets and expanding our waistlines.
My pal Dr. C.W. Randolph, Jr., co-author of From Belly Fat to Belly Flat (HCI) and co-founder of The Natural Hormone Institute of America, says there are 10 everyday foods and drinks that we think are doing us good but aren’t.
“These terrible 10 sound like great choices for someone watching his or her weight, but they’re loaded with fats, preservatives and hidden calories which are all big saboteurs of a slimmer belly, thighs or rear,” Dr. Randolph warns.
The 10 Healthy Foods That Ain’t All That Healthy
1. Diet soda – Soda is never good for you, but diet sodas create more insulin in your body, which means more sugar. Diet soda also inhibits the hormone leptin, which regulates your metabolism and appetite. Try a glass of water with your meal instead.
2. Pretzels – You may think pretzels are better than potato chips, but most varieties are made with enriched white flour and loaded with carbohydrates – a big diet no-no.
3. Fruit juices – Many fruit juices contain high amounts of sugar – natural and added. Depending on the brand, some may have as little as five percent natural fruit juice. For more fiber and less calories, eat your fruits rather than drink them.
4. Salad kits – Salad dressings plus the buttery croutons, nuts and cheeses that accompany many “toss at home” salads can add hundreds of calories and more fat than a dieter – or anyone for that matter – needs to consume in a single day let alone a single meal. Go light on dressings and extras.
5. Reduced-fat peanut butter – On the surface, a reduced-fat version of anything seems like a great idea. Unfortunately, the removed fat is often replaced with sweet fillers that keep the calorie level the same. Using a bit less of your favorite full-fat peanut butter is your best choice.
6. Chicken or turkey hot dogs – No matter how you slice it, the majority of hot dogs include skin and fat – yes, even those healthier-sounding hot dogs made from chicken or turkey. Try a low-fat or fat-free dog as a lower-calorie alternative for your cookouts.
7. Cereal bars – There are plenty of cereal bars that are low in fat and calories. But be sure to read labels closely! Many of these “meal replacement” or “energy” bars are packed with sugar and saturated fat.
8. Frozen yogurt – Frozen yogurt often contains added sugar to make up for the fat found in traditional ice cream. And that translates into extra calories. Look for a low-fat variety and indulge sparingly. Better yet, give frozen yogurt the cold shoulder altogether!
9. Rice cakes – These crispy treats can cause your blood sugar to spike, which in turn causes your body to store unwanted fat by slowing down its ability to burn it off. And beware of flavored rice cakes. They’re usually loaded with sodium.
10. Granola – Combining healthy grains and nuts makes for a meal that’s good for you, right? Wrong. Many granola varieties contain about 350 calories and 12 grams of fat per 3/4 cup. And don’t forget the added sugar. Low-fat or low-sugar granolas make for a better snack.
Other foods that are often wrongly assumed healthy include: fruit smoothies, dried fruit, muffins, muesli, sports drinks, cereal, vegetarian meals and low-fat ice cream.
For more helpful insight from Diet to Go Chief Editor John McGran, check out these articles:
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