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4 ‘healthy’ food traps to avoid

'Diet' and 'all-natural' are labels we often see on supermarket foods, but what do they really mean?

4 ‘healthy’ food traps to avoid

On average, we spend an astounding $745 million on diet products each year and the diet business is booming. So, why are we fatter than ever?

According to USANA Nutritionist Ravinder Lilly, even the savviest of consumers can be fooled by ‘diet’, ‘all-natural’ and ‘free-from’ labels decorating the abundance of seemingly healthy food products available. Quite often, though, they can pack just as many, if not more calories and fat than most of their junk-food counterparts.

See Lilly’s tips for what to skip in the supermarket aisle, plus some healthier alternatives

1. Supermarket Salad Kits

Supermarket salad kits are high on the list of deceptively unhealthy meal options. For instance, one cup of a Caesar salad, adorned with shaved cheese, roasted croutons and dressing can contain nearly 400 calories and 26 grams of fat. In fact, when it comes from certain fast food chains, Caesar salad contains more fat than a burger!

Instead, choose a simple salad with a sprinkle of grated or reduced-fat cheese, opting for fuller flavours to add some bite. Add cooked beetroot and some red kidney or black beans. Store-bought salad dressings are often very high in sugar, so opt for a homemade one using white wine vinegar, lemon and a teaspoon of Dijon mustard; your body will thank you for the extra antioxidants and filling fibre.

2. Muffins

Next to a croissant or doughnut, the muffin looks like a wholesome nugget of health. However, the giant-sized muffin concoctions commonly stocked in most supermarkets and bakeries are actually classed as being around three to four servings and can contain anywhere from 350 to a staggering 630 calories. In fact, some muffins have more fat and calories than a cupcake or doughnut. Even so-called healthy bran muffins can contain up to 500 calories and 20 grams of fat.

Try swapping your sweet treat for one or two toasted crumpets (83 calories each) with low-sugar fruit spread, or half a cinnamon and raisin bagel (160 calories).

3.  Veggie Chips

Veggie chips are crisp, salty and delicious – just like their wicked cousin, the potato chip. They are made from super healthy vegetables, making them the perfect unity of taste and nutrition, right? Sure, veggie chips are made from real vegetables rich in minerals and antioxidants, but when it comes to the fat and sodium content, they’re actually in the same ballpark as regular potato chips.

Make your own chips and wedges by chopping up some delicious young kale, spraying it with olive oil and oven baking it until it’s mouth-wateringly crispy. Or slice some peeled sweet potato and cook with some olive oil until crisp. Yum!

4. Frozen Yogurt

The clever marketing of fro-yo as the go-to dessert for weight watchers has consumers under the impression that they can eat as much as their heart desires, guilt-free.

However, most non-fat ‘plain’ fro-yo has 30-35 calories per 20 grams with around 20g of sugar – meaning that a large serve can crank up to 304 calories and 76g of sugar before you add any toppings. Most frozen yoghurts contain similar amounts of fat and calories as ice cream, while fat-free versions are padded out with extra calories in the form of sugar.

So, if you prefer it, you might as well enjoy a scoop of your favourite flavour of ice cream, or better yet, indulge in thick, creamy natural yoghurt with the addition of slived strawberries, blueberries and raspberries for an antioxidant explosion. While it’s not low in fat, it is low in sugar and features plenty of good bacteria.

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