With labels like ‘all natural’, ‘sugar-free’ and ‘no preservatives’, many highly-processed foods have redefined themselves as a ‘healthy’ option. Even the use of ‘gluten-free’ has landed some of the least nutritional foods up there with vegetables and superfoods. If you’re eating well. exercising and still not seeing results, it might be time to start focusing on your plate rather than the scales. Here are 6 ‘healthy’ foods you should think twice about eating:
1. Starchy vegetables
When starting a new diet, or healthy eating regime, you’ll find your daily intake of fresh veggies will begin to increase. In saying that, one common mistake made by a lot of people looking to lose weight is that they are eating too much of the wrong type. High-starch vegetables like corn, peas, potatoes, pumpkin and zucchini contain fewer vitamins, are higher calorie and higher in carbohydrates (on average) than low-starch green vegetables.
#GuavaTip: Try swapping out these starchy options with any green veggies – the darker the better! Options like spinach, bok choy, kale and cabbage are high fiber, extremely nutrient dense and will take longer for your body to break down, resulting in long, sustained energy.
2. Almost anything in a can
Most people regard canned fruits and vegetables as a ‘healthy’ option because they’re steamed without any cooking oils, and sweetened ‘naturally’. On the contrary, canned fruits and vegetables are usually laced with preservatives, sugar, sodium and salt to extend their shelf life and keep their taste. A number of studies have found that water-soluble nutrients in canned vegetables such as Vitamin C, B and thiamin are “significantly reduced” once they reach the consumer.
#GuavaTip: If fresh produce is difficult to get your hands on, opt for frozen: their nutrient level is substantially higher, they taste better and are substantially more fibrous than canned options.
3. Processed fruit drinks
Do you have a go-to fruit juice, either fresh or store bought? Just because it has celery, spinach or chia seeds to couple the apple and orange within it doesn’t hide the fact that you’re consuming around 5 times your daily recommended fruit intake. You can tell yourself it’s ‘healthy, natural sugar’ but this drink can hold up to 7 tablespoons of sugar per serving! and there’s nothing healthy about that. The regular intake of processed fruit drinks has been linked to higher blood pressure, increased weight, increased bad cholesterol and even diabetes.
#GuavaTip: Start swapping your juice for a smoothie, and understand what you’re consuming. Source a small blender and throw in plenty of dark green veggies, a handful of frozen blueberries, ½ an avocado, coconut water and ice – you’ll never go back to fruity juices again.!
4. Dried fruit
Another type of processing that often occurs with fruits is drying. It’s often found in trail mixes and used as a garnish, but be careful about using them as a snack. Because of their ‘fruit’ label, people look past the additional sugar and warped portion sizes of dried fruit and snack on them as much as they like. They hold fewer nutrients, more calories and a bunch of preservatives, making them a food you should try to avoid if you’re looking to stay in shape.
#GuavaTip: If you’re on the hunt for a snack that is easily stored and won’t burn a hole in your diet, try frozen berries. A handful of mixed berries have low levels of sugar and holds incredible amounts of antioxidants, but remember, 1 handful a day!
5. Flavoured yogurts
If you’re looking to lose weight, dairy should be one of the first things you cut from your shopping list. Flavoured yogurts have repeatedly marketed themselves as a ‘healthy snack’ but one serving can hold up to 12 teaspoons of sugar. Labels like ‘low fat’ or ‘high calcium’ often convince people of yogurt as a snack, but I can assure you: you’ll be left hungry, full of sugar and craving more.
#GuavaTip: If you’re going to have yogurt, one option that allows you to have a say in what goes in your body is to make your own flavouring. With a healthy plain base such as full-fat greek yogurt or coconut yogurt, add some unsweetened cocoa, hazelnuts and blueberries. This option is better for you and will sustain you long after you’re finished.
For few people, ‘healthy’ breakfast cereals have delivered promising initial results. But, for the majority of the population (including myself) there are a few reasons why this ‘healthy’ food isn’t all that healthy. First, serving sizes: I don’t know about other people but I can’t have just one serving of cereal, and definitely not the serving size recommended. All Bran, Just Right and Special K all suggest a maximum ½ cup serving per day! which is much less than what people are usually consuming. Secondly, more often than not, ‘sugar’ is within the largest 3 ingredients included. Having that at the beginning of your day is a recipe for cravings, lack of concentration and low energy.
#GuavaTip: Instead of a sugar hit and mid-morning slump, opt for a non-carbohydrate based breakfast. Fill your plate with animal proteins, good fats and some leafy greens for a long and sustained fuel for the day.