No matter how hard we try to eat healthily, we can often fall into the trap of eating things that we think are good for us – but actually aren’t.
I know it can seem like you can’t eat anything but it really is very simple – home and fresh made is key. Cooking and preparing food yourself means that you control what goes into it, and it’s okay to enjoy a variety of foods that are shop bought or from restaurants and takeaways.
Here are nine foods that you may think are healthy – but actually aren’t.
This is a tricky one as the yoghurt is a great source of protein, calcium, potassium and a number of vitamins and minerals, but the aisle is a minefield of flavoured, low-fat, Greek and Greek-style options, many which have either high amounts of saturated fat or sugar.
Never choose pre-flavoured yoghurt as this will be high in sugar. Instead, opt for plain varieties that have no more than 5g sugar and 3g sat fat per 100g. Soya alternatives are a good option, but be wary of varieties made from coconut milk as they are very high in saturated fat.
2. Bagels and Wraps
These are often mistaken for a better alternative to bread and therefore you may feel you can consume more than you would slices of your favourite loaf. However, comparing white for white and wheat for wheat, they are no lower in calories and often lack the protein and fibre that bread provides.
Any form of bread, bagel or wrap should be consumed in moderation and wholewheat options consumed. Just don’t kid yourself that your daily bagel with cream cheese and salmon is calorie free!
3. Salad (Dressings)
You have a bowl full of nutritious, colourful ingredients but the moment you pour that salad dressing over it, your healthy meal has just been covered in fat or salt. Instead, make your own from balsamic or lemon juice and save yourself the calories.
Many high street eateries sell salads with their own pot of dressing but as you can see here they usually have more fat than the meal itself. And as per above, don’t be fooled by ‘low’ options for shop bought bottled dressings.
4. ‘Low Fat/Calorie/Sugar’
There is still a big misconception about these foods – they are not better for you! In fact they are usually full of more salt, sugar and hidden ingredients in order to replace the favour that has been lost by removing fat and other key macros.
You are much better off cooking healthy meals from scratch and eating everything in moderation than consuming these foods. I’d much rather have a full fat version less often and enjoy it!
The same goes for your diet drink or anything that says ‘sugar-free’. The replacements are worse than the sugar and many are known to increase your appetite!
Most shop bought cereals are high in sugar – this includes packet-to-bowl porridge and oats too. Instead, buy oats and make up your own porridge. The same goes for granola and muesli – most of us don’t have time to make our own so ensure you are checking the labels for nutritional values.
The same goes for salt too. In fact some well-known brands have more salt per bowl than a packet of crisps!
6. Energy & Protein Bars
Personally I think most shop-bought protein bars taste like dust but if you do find that they help keep you full and stop you snacking on digestives then make sure you check the ingredients as for most brands the high protein intake comes with just as high a sugar value.
7. Butter Alternatives
Margarine is better for you than butter right? Well, no. It may seem like it has a lower fat content because it’s made from olive oil but margarine and olive spreads are manufactured in factories and are full of chemicals.
Did you know the yellow colour of spreads are manufactured to make it look like butter? Stick to the real stuff and consume in moderation.
8. Soups (Shop and Canned)
Some high street eatery soups contain more salt and sugar than your recommended daily intake and canned options are just as bad. Soup is so easy to make and you can do it in batches and freeze it for quick, healthy meals without the high sodium consumption.
9. Vegetable Chip/Crisp Alternatives
Just because your beetroot crisps or sweet potato fries are made from vegetables, it doesn’t mean they haven’t been cooked in just as much fat as the regular potato. If you prefer the flavour then go for it, but don’t kid yourself that you’re saving calories by taking this option.
All you need to do is eat these in moderation and be aware of what really goes in them. Kidding yourself that food is healthy when it’s full of sugar, fat and salt is just going to do you more harm than good and lead you to put on more weight than you lose.
When it comes to healthy eating, knowledge is key so you can make smart decisions.