Health Food Imposters – Foods to Avoid on Your Weight Loss Journey
Figuring out which foods to include in a healthy diet and which ones to avoid can be confusing. There are the obvious diet derailers like an ice cream sundae or a huge slice of triple chocolate cake. But when choosing foods for weight loss or general health, there are some imposters. Some foods and beverages advertised as healthy are anything but healthy. While they may have a healthy dose of a single vitamin or nutrient, a large dose of unhealthy ingredients is also included to make the food or beverage more appealing. We’ll review some of these health food imposters and explain why you should avoid them.
Fiber Fortified Foods
Many people lack the proper amount of fiber in their diet. This is often because they aren’t fond of fruits and vegetables which are rich in fiber. Instead, there are fiber-enhanced bars and cookies. You can get all the fiber you need and have it taste delicious. Problem solved, right?
Wrong. These health food imposters are actually desserts that contain inulin, a processed starch. While inulin may increase your fiber intake, it doesn’t provide the same health benefit as the natural fiber in fruits and vegetables. While it may be difficult to avoid processed food completely, making unprocessed food a large portion of your diet is a healthier choice.
The keyword here is “sports”. These beverages are rich in carbs and electrolytes, which is great if you are a long-distance runner or doing endurance training. However, drinking one while you’re working hard at your desk job isn’t a good idea. The main ingredient in these drinks is sugar and quite a lot of it. So, unless you’re training for a high-intensity or extreme endurance sport, you’re better off sticking to water.
Veggie Wraps and Pasta
These are made with veggies, so they have to be good for you, right? Not necessarily. Most of these health food imposters are made with only a trace amount of vegetable powder or puree. It is not nearly enough to count as a serving of vegetables, nor does it make the wrap or pasta any better for you. If you’re looking for a healthier alternative to regular wraps or pasta, whole wheat is a better choice but keep in mind they contain carbs, so eat them in moderation.
Sugar-Free Snacks and Beverages
Sugar-free cookies or soda are not part of a healthy diet. You may think you can indulge because they are sugar-free, but they are loaded with other ingredients that aren’t good for you. In addition to unhealthy fats and refined carbs, they are typically full of artificial sweeteners and sugar alcohols to make them taste good. A healthy diet shouldn’t include anything artificial, and too much sugar alcohol can result in a laxative effect. It’s okay to have a sweet snack or soda once in a while, but stick to snacks with real sugars and skip the sugar-free options.
Yes, this popular beverage is among the health food imposters. While they contain fruits or vegetables, many smoothies are packed with a heavy dose of calories and sugar. Even though it’s natural fruit sugar, too much is not good. Since smoothies are often consumed in place of a meal, make sure they contain plenty of protein, fiber, and vegetables – not just fruit. This will provide you with a more balanced meal replacement and prevent your blood sugar from spiking. Drinking a smoothie as an after-workout treat can undo all the hard work you just put in and replace all the calories you burned. Grab water instead.
Yogurt is part of the dairy family and can be a good source of protein, calcium, and potassium. However, stick to plain yogurt. Flavored yogurt contains a lot of sugar, even those flavored with fruit. Some can have as much as 30 grams of sugar. According to the American Heart Association, the recommended daily intake of sugar for men is 36 grams. For women and children over the age of two, it’s 25 grams of sugar. So, one serving of flavored yogurt can contain most or all of your average daily allowance of sugar.
Avoiding Health Food Imposters
The food and beverages we’ve mentioned are just some of the health food imposters you should avoid. Your best defense is to buy fresh foods and read the ingredients when purchasing processed foods. Be especially alert about foods that list partially hydrogenated as they contain artery-clogging fat. When it comes to health food imposters, don’t fall for the hype. Just because the package says it’s healthy doesn’t mean it is.
If you’re concerned about eating healthy for weight loss, it’s a good idea to consult with a weight loss physician. Dr. Pinto, the founder of Vive Aesthetics and Wellness, is board certified in both Family Medicine and Obesity Medicine. He is also the national medical director of the Center for Medical Weight Loss. His expertise in weight management and his experience with educating and training other physicians in bariatric medicine has made him a nationally known expert.
Manage your weight loss the right way. Skip the fad diets and health food imposters. Schedule a consultation today and take the first step toward healthy weight loss.