Maybe it comes down to what we believe is really healthy—or maybe it’s clever marketing that’s rattled our brains—but it’s becoming easier for you to get tricked into thinking something is good for your diet when, in fact, there’s much hiding under the surface that makes a "health food" as bad as a candy bar. Try to nix these five common foods from your regular diet and work in the healthier alternatives instead.
Fish has healthy omega-3 fatty acids and can be high in protein. Rice is a healthy grain. This has to be good, right? Don’t let that alluring combo and the small rolls sway you into ordering just anything on the menu. Some common dinners like shrimp tempura can come in at well over 500 calories—for one roll. (And who eats just one?)
What to do: Avoid “Americanized” versions of sushi. These are often covered in sauces like spicy mayo, filled with cream cheese like you find in the “Philadelphia Roll,” or fried—usually labeled as “tempura” or “crunchy.” Instead stick with “sashimi,” which is fish without rice and no sauces. Or if you want the rice, nigiri is the same piece of fish with just a bit of rice underneath. While you’re at it, stick to the better fish varieties like salmon, mackerel, and tuna—all rich in heart healthy omega-3 fats and protein.
Often billed as healthy on the package, granola packs a whole lot of calories in a very small serving. Even worse—since very few people eat just 1/2 cup, which is the typical serving—that seemingly good for you granola can start to approach 500 calories when you down it by the fistful, without the milk or anything else. These packs can also be full of extra sugar and fat.
What to do: Try this simple recipe for “mason jar blueberry sewn oats.” Add 1/2 cup rolled oats to a jar, top with 1-cup dairy or unsweetened almond milk, add a few raisins, some blueberries, 1 scoop of unflavored whey protein, and a dash of cinnamon. Put on the lid, pop it in the fridge overnight, and enjoy in the morning for a breakfast that will provide the right amount of oomph.
This alternative to a morning breakfast or afternoon energy pick-me-up is often nothing more than carb-dense sugar bomb that offers very little in terms of sustainable energy or satiating protein. Even something like a Nature Valley Maple Brown Sugar bar is nearly 200 calories with only 4 grams of protein.
What to do: For a quick easy option on the go, make a dozen hard-boiled eggs on a Sunday to enjoy throughout the week. Take the time to peel them when they’re done cooking, then you can simply grab a couple with a piece of fruit when headed out the door in the morning. The protein in the eggs will help fill you up, and the fruit offers fiber and other important nutrients that blow away the little chunks of “fruit” found in many bars.
Often called “fruit on the bottom” yogurt, most popular brands on your supermarket shelf offer as much sugar as a can of soda. For example, a helping of Dannon Blueberry Fruit on the Bottom has more calories (140) and just as much sugar (25g) as an 8 oz. can of Coke. Certainly nothing smart about starting your day with that much sugar.
What to do: Instead, try some cottage cheese. With 13 grams of protein per 1/2 cup, you’ll be hard-pressed to find any food that packs that much protein in such a small serving—including most Greek yogurts. Top it with some fruit, a dash of cinnamon, and you’ve got a great breakfast.
It’s pushed as a healthy way to load up on vitamins and minerals. Unfortunately juicing also means you miss out on all the healthy associated fiber found in fruits since the skin is often removed before the juicing process.
What to do: Make a healthy smoothie that blends the entire fruit and/or vegetable so you not only get those vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients along with the fiber. Add a scoop of whey protein, blend in some dairy milk, unsweetened almond milk, or water and you’ll have a perfect breakfast energy drink for on the go. Check out 101SimpleSmoothies.com for more great options.
This article was first published on MensHealth.com
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