18 Snacks That Aren’t as Healthy as You Think
Eating well sounds easy in theory but, in reality, it can be super tough. How do you know what to trust when current food trends dictate what’s printed on the product’s label? Sugar-free, gluten-free, fat-free, carb-free — your head is spinning too, right? This is why we put together a list of common snack myths and misconceptions to steer you in the right snack direction. Spoiler alert: we’re about to make you wary of the low-cal label, prove not all fats are bad fats, and show that (wait for it!) healthy food = real food. Keep reading for the true scoop on healthy snacks!
1. Prepared Smoothies: Store-bought smoothies can have lots of added sugar, not to mention lots of calories. Opt for a size small in a no-added sugar variety or make your own to control what goes into it. Fill it up with only fruits, veggies, other whole foods and make sure extra sugar never sets foot in your straw. (via Kitchen Treaty)
2. Yogurts + Parfaits: Plain yogurt is good for you, but the dairy aisle is packed with flavored yogurt — with lots of added sugar. You may think you’re doing the right thing by purchasing a parfait instead of a breakfast sandwich, but beware of sugary granola! Your best bet is to buy natural, plain yogurt (with no added sugar) and sweeten it yourself with a drizzle of honey, handful of fruit or a few spoonfuls of natural granola. (via Mama’s Health)
3. Trail Mix: Sure, nuts, seeds and dried fruit are all a healthy go-to. It’s the coated chocolates, yogurt-covered raisins and deep-fried banana chips that are not. Oh, and watch your portions on this one. It’s easy to go overboard — WAY overboard. (via With Style and Grace)
4. Energy Bars: Most energy bars are packed with oodles of calories because they’re designed for high-intensity workouts, like rock climbing or mountain biking. If you’re not planning on participating in a triathlon, it’s best to step away from the energy bars. Some have more calories (and sugar) than a candy bar! (via Beard + Bonnet)
5. Sports Drinks: Do you avoid soda because of its sugar content? Here’s a shocker: A sports drink can have just as much sugar as a can of soda. They’re called SPORTS drinks for a reason… they’re designed for athletes burning mad cals. (via Die Food Dye)
6. A Vegetarian Diet: Plant-based diets may be beneficial to your long-term health and short-term waist line, but when you’re going meat-free, it’s easy to heavily rely on carbs and processed foods, such as cheese and meat-substitutes. Stick with protein-rich snacks, fruits, veggies and whole grains instead. (via Cooking Light)
7. Fat-Free Labels: Labels at the grocery store may boast low-calorie and fat-free varieties, but it’s how the product gets to that level that matters. While your packaged food may be low in fat, other ingredients (sugar and sodium) were added to balance it out. Fat-free does NOT mean calorie-free. Fat has a bad reputation, but eliminating all fat from your diet isn’t helpful. Healthy fats, like avocados, olive oil and nuts have omega-3 fatty acids and monounsaturated fats which give us energy. These fats also tell us when we’re full so we don’t overeat and help us to absorb vitamins and minerals. (via Refined Guy)
8. Reduced-Fat Peanut Butter: Low-fat peanut butter has more sugar than the regular ol’ butter to make up for the taste. In peanut butter’s case, most of its fat is the good kind, so replacing it with sweet stuff is no bueno. Make the easy switch to one of our personal faves, almond butter, which is the best nut butter for your body because it has the highest healthy fat content. And remember: The more natural, the better. Look for butters with no added sugar. (via The Kitchn)
9. Light Salad Dressings: Light salad dressings are filled with preservatives and sodium. Like peanut butter, the fat in salad dressing can be beneficial to your body, helping it to absorb the nutrients that the rest of the salad has to offer. Olive oils are always best when it comes to dressings, just don’t go crazy! (via Made in Design)
10. Microwave Popcorn: Popcorn is known to be a low-calorie snack, but microwaving it is not the healthiest way to prepare it. Chemicals that line the inside of the microwave bag have been linked to disease. Get the most out of your popcorn by buying plain kernels and using an air popper. Plus, then you can add your own spices and flavorings. (via CDL Life)
11. Diet Soda: Diet cola was cool when it came out in the ’80s, but we all know how bad it is for you, right? Research has proven that while you may be saving on calories with the diet options, fake sugar and crazy chemicals aren’t exactly “better” for you than the real stuff. (via One Good Thing)
12. Diet Frozen Entrees: These can be low in calories, but even lower in nutrients (and super high in sodium). The refined grains that are included in most frozen meals are useless for your body, so plan to be hungry again later. (via Home Hatchery)
13. Granola: A healthy start to your day should include more fiber than sugar. Even though the term “granola” is associated with healthy and organic lifestyles, most contain the opposite of what you need for a good start. Check the granola labels and aim for two to three grams of fat per quarter cup serving. (via Well + Good)
14. Frozen Yogurt: Your favorite feel-good dessert is still okay to eat, just in moderation. Don’t go crazy because it feels healthy. Stick with a size small and avoid piling on the candy and granola (see above). And in case you were wondering, it’s NEVER okay to substitute fro-yo for a meal. It doesn’t have enough nutrients and will leave you begging for more snacks later. (via Shape)
16. Prepared Salads: Salads that you don’t make yourself can be loaded with fats from mayonnaise or creamy dressings, or other items like croutons or fried onions. This is another one where portion control plays a huge part in the health factor of your meal. (via Fox News)
17. Bran Muffins: Somewhere along the line, muffins became the choice for a “healthier” breakfast pastry. False. Most have as many calories as the donut you may have passed up in the muffin’s favor. And those bran muffins are especially caloric. (via Cooking Light)
18. Packaged Turkey: Packaged deli meats contain wayyyyy too much sodium. How else do you think they stay preserved in that package?! Go for the freshly sliced turkey or choose a low-sodium variety. (via Quick + Dirty Tips)
What are the most helpful tips you’ve received in regard to eating right? Let us know in the comments below!
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