Rule number 1: Don’t get confused with what’s on the front of the label. The front of packaging is for the brand to guide you into what they want you to think of a food. Instead, check the back of packaging, get the real facts, and form your own opinion. I challenge you to this - take a closer look!
Here are some foods that may seem healthy but you may want to consider taking a deeper look and shopping around for the right brand.
Protein and granola bars may seem like a quick bite to eat packed with nutrients. However, many ingredients can hide in these bars. Granola bars in particular have a lot of sugars and syrups to bind them together. The sugar can go by the name of cane syrup, brown rice syrup, tapioca syrup and many more. When choosing a granola bar, focus on increasing the protein and decreasing the amount of added sugars. Sugar is short term energy. Protein will give you energy for the long haul of your busy day!
Don’t be confused with ‘veggies’ being part of the product name. Veggie chips are still a processed food. The chips are not completely made of vegetables and are usually only made with 60-70% vegetables. If a shopper just compares the calories, the chips can be deceiving. With fewer calories, they seem like the better choice, yet veggie chips may contain higher levels of sodium and carbohydrates. Instead of choosing veggie chips, maybe try sticking to your favorite chip and just working on portion control and timing of your snack!
Oatmeal is known for being rich in nutrients as well as containing more protein and fat than other grains. Oats are also a great source of fiber to help your digestive system. Oatmeal is very filling and can help those who are trying to lose weight. It is easy to assume all oatmeal packages are the best choice for breakfast. However, many brands may already have sugar added. It is better to buy plain oats and add your own toppings in moderation. This will save you money and give you much better flavor. Add a topping of protein to compliment your oats like nut butter or Greek yogurt.
Diet sodas use aspartame, cyclamate, saccharin, and sucralose to add sweetness without adding calories and nutrients to your body. Diet Coke contains no calories, sugar, or fat but has 40g of sodium. Studies done on diet sodas have found diet soda to be linked to a higher risk of type 2 diabetes. One serving of a diet soft drink a day lead to 8-13% higher risk of the disease. With the high phosphorus content of soft drinks, they have also been inversely correlated to kidney health. If you are trying to avoid drinking soft drinks but love the carbonation, try sparkling/carbonated water! There are so many great brands to try.
Not all carbohydrates are ‘bad’ but it is important to know what to look for in your grain products. Grains when eaten whole like oats contain many nutrients from the bran, germ, and endosperm. However, when grains are refined and processed, the nutrients quickly disappear and you are left with calories that are not as nutrient dense. Items that are usually made with refined grains include white bread, bagels, cookies, rice cakes, and more. Stick to whole wheat grains and make sure to check the label on the product before purchasing.
More to come on this later! That’s another whole blog post :)