You've made the decision to lead a healthier lifestyle. Congrats! Now make sure your new healthy diet really is better for your body. Just because an advertisement or package claims that something is nutritious doesn't mean it will nourish your body better than junk food. Here's a few so-called health foods that won't make your doctor smile.
1. Fast Food Salads
Just because something is made with leafy greens doesn't mean it's healthy. Avoid fast food salads topped with layers of shredded cheese, croutons, creamy dressings, and fatty meats such as bacon. Instead, opt for salads filled with fresh vegetables, toasted seeds, lean meats, beans, or fruits topped with a vinaigrette dressing.
2. Low-fat Yogurt
For some reason yogurt has been pegged a diet food. But, when one of those tiny cups contains 25 to 30 grams of sugar, it's really not helping your waistline or healthy diet. If you're craving the creamy food, opt for Greek yogurt sweetened with natural fruit, not sugar. This is higher in protein than other yogurts, which helps you feel full longer.
3. Granola Bars
Sugar likes to lurk in what seems like the healthiest of foods. Before putting a box of granola bars in the shopping cart, peek at the ingredient list. If sugar sits at the top, put them back. Whole grains such as rolled oats and brown rice flour, or chopped nuts, should be the main ingredients.
4. Gluten-free Bread
Ever since gluten-free became a buzz word associated with healthy diets, people are flocking to buy gluten-free food alternatives. What most people don't realize is gluten-free baked goods, such as bread, are high in sugar and really are no healthier than other breads. Gluten-free products are prepared for people with a food allergy or autoimmune illness known as Celiac Disease, not as a weight loss food.
5. Packet of Nuts
Snacking on nuts is a great way to add fiber and protein to your diet. But, if you're reaching for honey-roasted peanuts or candied almonds, you're not making healthy decisions. Instead opt for raw, shelled nuts seasoned with a small amount of sea salt to maintain a healthy diet.
6. Non-caffeinated beverages
Your doctor has told you to cut back on soda, so reaching for sports drinks might seem natural. But before taking a gulp, look at the ingredients. Many sports drinks are filled with high fructose corn syrup, artificial food colorings, and sugar substitutes--several of the ingredients your doctor and dentist want you to avoid. Instead opt for water flavored with a squeeze of lemon or lime.
Want to learn more about health and nutrition? United Way is an advocate of healthy lifestyles and educates communities about proper nutrition.