The day I figured out that eating healthy food actually does make you feel better was a bittersweet day for me. I missed my Kraft Mac and Cheese so much—I lived for that stuff. But how could I go back to my sketchy diet when it felt so good to eat right?
Eating healthy is key to a sustainable lifestyle, but sometimes our alleged healthy choices are actually no better for us than an order of fries or a candy overdose. I’ve found the five most commonly-mistaken “healthy” foods around so that the next time you go to grab a snack, you grab the right one.
Protein is vital for the repair of muscles and is a main player in the overall health of the body. So when you’re in a hurry and running from class to the gym, a protein bar might seem like a quick and healthy way to get the protein you need, right? Wrong. Many protein bars contain as much sugar as a candy bar, and have more crazy artificial ingredients. Don’t make a habit out of snacking on this “healthy” energy boost. Instead, add more protein to your meals. Beans and brown rice make an excellent choice, as does a tasty serving of roasted chicken.
If I had a dollar for every time someone asked me to get frozen yogurt with them, I’d be living on my own private island. Somewhere along the line, people seem to have picked up the idea that because this alternative to ice cream is often “non-fat,” it’s not bad for you. But did you ever wonder why it still tastes so good? It’s because it’s still packed with sugar. If you’re thinking of grabbing some fro-yo because you want to be healthy, don’t. Just have a normal serving of ice cream once or twice a week.
Sushi has become a cool and trendy way to catch up with friends. Not everybody likes sushi, but if you do, it’s generally an obsession. If you’re ordering a basic roll, you’re probably treading in healthy waters—a single serving roll with salmon, rice, and seaweed is about 120 calories according to Forbes. But what about “westernized” rolls? If your go-to dish has cream cheese, mayo, or is a tempura roll, you’re looking at a 500 plus calorie dish—and none of those are coming from raw fish.
It’s easy to see why trail mix is associated with health. When you think of trail mix, you think of the outdoors, hiking, and cool, organic, “granola” people. But there are several factors that lessen the healthy effects of this snack. First of all, if you aren’t eating it to energize yourself during a hike, you’re in danger of eating for the sake of eating. Snacking on trail mix is hard because you generally lose track of the serving size. Instead of eating a a handful, we eat three or four. And I don’t know about you, but any trail mix that I’ve ever enjoyed isn’t entirely made up of unsalted nuts and raisins. It’s chalk full of sugary dried fruit, chocolate, and salty morsels. Instead of buying pre-made trail mix, try making your own with mostly unprocessed ingredients and just a touch of the good stuff.
Reduced-Fat Peanut Butter
This “healthy alternative” to peanut butter is not going to make your PB&J better for you. People are afraid of the real thing because it’s high in fat and calories. While this is true, reduced-fat has more sugar in it than the real thing. Ever heard of everything in moderation? I’m pretty sure they made that up after peanut butter was invented. Instead of snacking on this condiment right out of the jar with a spoon (not that I’ve done that or anything…) stick to a tablespoon or two on your morning toast or a banana for an energetic start to your day!