The national trend toward healthier eating has flooded the marketplace with lingo that tricks you into thinking certain products are good for you. Terms like fat-free, low fat, organic, gluten-free, and sugar-free lure you in, but those words don’t tell the whole story. And if you’re serious about your weight loss, you need the whole truth and nothing but the truth.
Dr. Robert Skversky at Weight No More in Newport Beach, California, is an expert in medically supervised weight loss and sees how deceptive packaging can sabotage his patients’ hard work and good intentions. Here, he shares some of the main offenders in your supermarket and health food stores, so you can avoid them next time you go shopping for healthy ingredients and meals.
1. The salad sabotage
No one can argue about the health benefits of a fresh salad. A bowlful of crisp greens and seasonal vegetables is about as healthy as you can get. But here’s how your innocent salad takes an unhealthy turn.
Full of fat, sugar, salt, and calories, not to mention preservatives and other chemicals, salad dressings can quickly undo your weight-loss efforts. Now, we’re not suggesting you eat a naked salad, but dress it instead with a homemade version that contains only ingredients you know are healthy, such as a small amount of extra virgin olive oil and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice or balsamic vinegar. This way you can control what goes into it and how much you use.
The other thing that can ruin a perfectly healthy salad is a bunch of toppings. For instance, a few toasted nuts can be a good source of protein, but they’re also high in calories. Croutons, tortilla strips, wontons, and sunflower seeds can all have your salad crossing the unhealthy line.
2. Smooth-talking smoothies
The smoothie menu at your local juice joint looks like an ingenious way to approach your diet — skip the chewing and get all your nutrients in a cup. In theory, this could be a good way to avoid fast food and high-calorie meals, until you look a little closer.
Store-bought smoothies are full of sugars, fruit juice, and thickening ingredients, like whole milk and yogurt, which can seriously add to the calorie and fat count.
You can still drink smoothies, just order one without all the high-calorie culprits, or make your own with fresh fruits and veggies, but skip sugary juices and high-fat fillers.
3. The yogurt conundrum
Yogurt is another one of those foods that starts out as a perfectly healthy choice. In controlled quantities, it’s a good source of protein and calcium, and the live cultures can really do wonders for your digestive system.
But plain, unsweetened yogurt is a bit of an acquired taste, so many manufacturers add flavors and sugars to keep your tastebuds happy. Unfortunately, that transforms an otherwise healthy cup of yogurt into a tub of calories and fat. Instead, buy plain yogurt and top it with fresh berries.
4. The meatless mystery
Attempting to steer clear of red meat, many dieters are turning to meatless alternatives. But if you’re a carnivore, you’re probably missing that juicy burger. For years now, restaurants and manufacturers have been trying to replicate the taste and texture of real beef using only plant-based products.
The most successful in terms of flavor and feel are so highly processed and filled with saturated that it lands them right back in the same unhealthy camp as their meaty counterparts, weighing in with near-equal levels of calories and fat, and surpassing the “unhealthy” versions in the carb and sodium categories.
5. Tricky trail mix and granola
The terms trail mix and granola seem synonymous with healthy living. After all, they are supposedly made with nuts and whole grains, and they conjure the image of you actually hiking somewhere on a hilltop, reaching for scant amounts of the energy-giving snack only to sustain you.
Unfortunately, trail mixes today are often so packed with candy, dried fruits, extra salt, and chocolate the healthy part gets lost in translation.
Likewise, granola tends to be laden with hidden ingredients, like high fructose corn syrup, honey, maple syrup, molasses, brown sugar, dried fruits, and nuts, that your calorie and carb count for the day can be blown on one bowl.
Other undercover unhealthy choices
While these five foods top our list of “healthy” foods that can actually make you gain weight, it’s by all means not exhaustive. Here are a few more things you should beware of:
- Energy bars
- Energy drinks
- Protein shakes
- Meal replacement beverages
- Fruit juices
- Protein powders
- Instant oatmeal
- Plant-based milks
- Deli meats
- Veggie chips
- Frozen yogurt
If you’re interested in teaming up with Dr. Skversky for an effective weight-loss program that lasts, call us at 949-339-3729, or use our online booking tool to set up a consultation today.