We know the score, you’re eating all the “right” foods. The ones you’ve been told are “healthy” and good for someone who wants to lose weight. But for some reason, the scales aren’t tipping in the right direction.
There are some sneaky foods which may be sabotaging your weight loss. Hiding under labels that say natural, fat-free and healthy are some seriously dodgy foods.
Cereal and muesli
Served up to you on top of acai bowls, packaged in natural looking brown boxes, these sneaky breakfast choices can hide a multitude of sins. Even a wholegrain cereal or muesli is probably coated in sugar or other sweeteners. Whether your sugar is from corn syrup, cane, honey or maple, it all means empty calories. Look out for cereals and mueslis that are processed as little as possible and don’t hide tonnes of sugar on the nutritional panel.
Low-fat and fat-free labelled foods
Oh, how we detest these products! Born out of the war on fat, these labels have become synonymous with ‘healthy’.
The main issue with processed foods that have had the fat taken out of them, is that to make up for the lack of flavour (fat is yummy!) they’ve added in lots of other things. Mostly sugar, fillers, synthetics and other nasties. Just say NO.
If you’ve walked the snack aisle of the supermarket lately, you may have noticed the range of ‘light’ or ‘fat-free’ microwave popcorn has increased. As we said above, fat adds flavour and manufacturers have had to make up for this by adding more salt and chemicals to the popcorn.
A better choice? Air popping your own corn or looking for ‘naked’ varieties in store that you can then add your own flavouring to.
‘Light’ salad dressing
While it might seem the obvious choice, light versions of your favourite salad dressings are generally laden with sugar and additives to give it flavour.
A better choice is to make you’re own with good quality olive oil and vinegar – no sugar required!
Fun fact: CHEFGOOD dressings are chef-made and don’t contain any synthetics, fillers and refined sugars.
Let’s start with the bottles of fruit juice you’ll find in the supermarket. Firstly, is that real fruit juice you’ve picked up or is it sugary fruit ‘drink’ which actually isn’t juice at all! Even the real stuff will often be made from concentrate and not fresh.
Moving on, let’s talk about fresh fruit juice – that must be good for you right?
Unfortunately, not really. Fruit juice is like fruit, EXCEPT the good stuff (eg. the fibre) has been taken out. This leaves you with a sugary liquid not much better than a can of soft drink.
Better to eat your fruit fresh and whole, or blended in a smoothie so you’re not missing out on the good stuff.
“Natural” energy drinks
Often packaged in amber bottles with green labels, these “natural” versions of energy drinks aren’t what they seem. Usually, it’s the same old sugar and chemical-laden energy drink with some added natural ingredients (like vitamins or minerals) and wrapped up in different packaging.
Dried fruit isn’t inherently bad, but many varieties come with added sugar and are kept longer with the addition of sulphur.
If you’re looking for a sweet treat, choose fresh fruit instead to save on calories and boost nutritional intake.
Fun fact: Dried banana chips have three times the calories of fresh banana!
Low-fat peanut butter
You guessed it, low-fat peanut butter is full of additives like sugar to make it taste good now that the fat has been removed. Stick to the real deal by making sure the only thing on the ingredients list is peanuts.
Those muffins sitting under the glass cloche right next to the coffee machine at the cafe might look like a healthy on the go breakfast, but they’re not. Especially if they say low fat!
Margarine or other spreads
The war on fat has a lot to answer for, and one of those things is the demonisation of butter. It’s alternative, margarine was marketed as a healthy alternative but turns out it is just refined oil in a super-processed form made to look and act like butter.
At CHEFGOOD we love real butter and use the best local stuff we can get our hands on.
Organic corn chips
While they might come in cool, healthy-looking packets, organic corn chips contain the same amount of calories and salt as their regular counterparts.
Processed protein bars
When it comes to protein bars, our best advice is to leave them at the counter of the gym or supermarket. If you check out the label you’ll find that your “healthy” protein bar is actually a block of nasty artificial ingredients and fillers. Oh, and they’re usually super high in calories!
Swap protein bars for real food like eggs, chickpeas, quinoa and lean meat.
Diet or sugar-free soft drink
A solid N.O. to these nasty artificially sweetened drinks which have absolutely no nutritional value. Just stick to water to quench your thirst.
About a decade ago, the word ‘wrap’ became synonymous with healthy. It didn’t seem to matter what was in the wrap, or even what the wrap was made out of. Don’t be trapped by the wrap – think before you buy and make sure it’s made from and full of whole foods.
Sushi hand rolls
Rice, seaweed, veggies and chicken, meat or fish – what could go wrong? There are a few things to watch out for when it comes to sushi. Number one is the white rice that’s usually made with lots of sugar. Opt for brown rice without the sugar (you’ll probably have to ask!). Secondly is what goes in your roll and on top of it. Look out for deep fried fillings, crunchy toppings and lashings of mayo or teriyaki sauce – these all add hundreds of calories to your order.
Marketed as a healthy alternative to ice cream, frozen yoghurt is actually pretty much the same! Although Froyo might be lower in fat, it’s been topped up with lots of sugar and artificial additives to make it sweet and creamy. And we haven’t even touched on all the toppings like lollies, syrupy fruit and sugary mochi!
Did you know that most sports drinks are basically cordial (sugar) and salt (electrolytes)? Formulated for athletes, it’s unlikely you’ll actually require what a sports drink can offer you. Most of us are better off sticking to regular old water.
Unless you’re a diagnosed celiac, your body can process gluten and there is no health benefit for you when avoiding it. While there is nothing inherently wrong with going gluten-free, the issue is that the label has become a marketing tool – linking gluten-free with ‘healthy’ in people’s minds. Just remember just because it says gluten-free on the packet of choc mint biscuits, does not make them good for you!
Canned baked beans
Baked beans are packed with protein and fibre, they’re an excellent choice for a filling breakfast. The problem is the ones you buy in a can are high in sugar, salt and other additives. Check out low sodium and salt options, or make your own with navy beans!
Processed vegan foods
Like gluten-free, the term vegan has now been linked to ‘healthy’. But just because something is vegan doesn’t make it good for you. There are many processed vegan foods on the market sold as easy replacements to non-vegan foods like bacon, chocolate, burgers and cheese. Keep in mind that junk food is junk food, whether it’s vegan or not.