So you’ve made the decision to be more health conscious. You’re working out more, trying to get more sleep, and probably trying to eat better if you’re like most. I’ll be the first to admit the whole “eating better” part is usually the hardest. The grocery store is a cluster of confusion with options masquerading as “heart healthy”, “gluten free”, “contains vitamins”, “non-gmo”, and the list goes on. It’s too bad we can’t go shopping and have labels that state, “the serving size is actually two chips” or “has as many calories as a Krispy Kreme donut but doesn’t taste as good”. Being that I’m a healthy balance promoter, I don’t ever exclude entire food groups from my diet. That being said, moderation is key, and there are food options that are better choices compared to others. I decided to hit up my local grocery story to find some of the most common “healthy” food and drink offenders so you can steer clear.
Sports drinks were originally designed for a specific purpose…any guesses?? If you guessed sports you are correct! These drinks were never intended to be consumed while you’re lying around on the house. Why? Because the second ingredient is sugar. This is fine if you are participating in a long distance endurance event or a strenuous workout. You need that sugar to keep yourself from “hitting the wall” or basically burning through all of your energy stores.
Experts recommend sports drinks if you are engaging in vigorous activity for longer than 60 minutes. Unfortunately couch surfing doesn’t count as a sport. Better to stick with old fashioned H20 instead.
Veggie or Fruit Snacks
“But they say the two magic words, veggies and fruit!” Don’t be fooled, just because they may contain “spinach powder” or “fruit juices” doesn’t make them as good as the real thing.
I like to classify these snacks into the category of empty calories meaning that you will probably want to eat a lot of them but they don’t contain enough of the good stuff to fill you up. These snacks can basically be clumped together as glorified potato chips. No fiber, no protein, just some carbs and fat.
Now I will ask you a deep philosophical question, can you ever eat one fruit snack pack or are you really going to count out exactly 38 veggie straws? Didn’t think so. Try choosing a snack that is pre-portioned and contains adequate fiber and protein. This will fill you up longer and make those calories worth it.
I know this may not be popular with some but believe it or not, just because something is classified as gluten-free doesn’t inherently make it better for you. Speaking from experience, my husband actually has a gluten-allergy so I do have to take careful considerations when making meals. If you have an allergy or intolerance this isn’t meant for you. For the rest of us non-gluten allergy folks, I challenge you to compare gluten-free foods to their regular counterparts.
Calories, fat, protein, carbs, and ingredients don’t lie. These gluten-free pretzels are the same as the gluten ones and can also be classified in the empty calories category listed above. Save the money and opt for more whole food snacks instead.
Meal Replacement and Weight Loss Shakes
This one really gets me. They market these drinks toward individuals wanting to lose weight but usually the way you have to lose weight is pretty ridiculous. “Replace two meals with this 180 calorie beverage”. I mean yes, for most people if you are only eating 180 calories for breakfast and lunch and not ravenous by snack or dinner time this may work for you, but this is not a one size fits all answer. Everyone has different caloric and macronutrient needs and a cookie cutter plan isn’t going to fit the bill. I recommend creating your own shake with a good quality protein powder, fruits, and or vegetables of your choice. You have the control over the calories and ingredients you put into it. Make it in advance and keep it in you fridge. It’s quick, easy, and customizable. Problem solved.
I know most people don’t like to hear this, but if you are trying to make better food choices, you need to get familiar with labels. Spend time comparing and if something doesn’t make sense, check out the FDA’s website on how to decipher the nutrition facts. Soon enough, you’ll be able to quickly glance at something and determine if it fits your goals or not. If you’re still stuck, ask your personal trainer! We can be a great resource for helping you understand if foods will help or hinder because you can’t outwork a bad diet.