Here is an ugly truth that needs to be addressed: most food manufacturers care more about their profit margin than your health. It’s a sad reality, but it’s a reality nonetheless. These food manufacturers try to increase profits by slapping misleading claims on labels and spending millions of dollars for commercials that steer you in the wrong direction. The good news is we’re here to help. Here are some foods that are advertised as healthy – and generally believed to be healthy – that really aren’t.
Flavored yogurt tops the list of healthy foods that aren’t. So many people believe that they’re doing their body good when reaching for a yogurt for breakfast. In fact, this is such a common belief that many people even force yogurt into their diet even though they don’t really like it because they think it’s good for them. Here’s the truth: flavored yogurt is LOADED with sugar. If you pick up a container of flavored yogurt and compare the sugar content to a soda, it’s likely the same per serving. That’s right – you may be taking in as much sugar eating a flavored yogurt as you would drinking a can of soda. That being said, some of the sugar in yogurt is natural, but food manufacturers are not required to differentiate between the two so you never really know what you’re getting.
On the other hand, some flavored yogurts are “light”, which means instead of sugar, they’re sweetened with artificial sweeteners. This may save you calories, but research shows that consuming artificial sweeteners may actually contribute to weight GAIN rather than weight loss. The bottom line? Stay away from flavored yogurts. If you want to eat yogurt, choose plain Greek varieties, which contain a boatload of protein and only natural sugars. If you want to sweeten the deal a bit, add some fresh fruit on your own.
Flavored oatmeal makes the list for the same reason as flavored yogurt: it’s packed with sugar. It doesn’t matter if it’s white sugar, brown sugar, or maple syrup – it all contributes extra calories that you don’t want when trying to lose weight. Flavored oatmeal is also highly processed. Manufacturers take oats – which are normally digested fairly slowly – and turn them into a quick-cooking product that may resemble oats, but lack the full health benefits. If you want oatmeal, choose plain steel-cut varieties or old-fashioned oats that haven’t been through a lot of processing. These take longer to cook than flavored packaged varieties, but your body will thank you. If plain oatmeal isn’t your thing, dress it up with some fresh or dried fruit, chopped raw nuts, or unsweetened coconut flakes.
Meal Replacement Bars
There are literally hundreds of different kinds of meal replacement bars on the market. Some are rich in protein and others provide a boost of carbohydrates, but the one thing many of them have in common is – you guessed it – SUGAR. If you pick up a typical meal replacement bar and compare the nutrition facts to a regular candy bar, you may be surprised to find that the sugar and saturated fat content are nearly the same. Many of these bars are also loaded with artificial ingredients and chemicals that you’d be better off skipping. That’s not to say that there are NO meal replacement bars that are healthy, but you’d be better off carrying around a container of raw nuts and raisins as an emergency meal replacement than chowing down on these bars regularly.
I bet you can guess one of the major reasons granola isn’t such a healthy choice. You said it! Sugar. Granola may be naturally low in fat (which manufacturers love to state over and over again), but a single ½ cup serving contains 12 grams of sugar – just 2 grams less than the same serving of vanilla ice cream. The other important thing to note is that granola is often a “no brakes” food item. Many people eat way more than ½ cup at a time, so amount of sugar – and calories – you’re eating from granola alone can be significant.
The bottom line here is this: when you’re trying to lose weight, you need to stay away from excess sugar. The refined carbohydrate has no nutritional value and can easily put you over your calorie goals for the day. Don’t believe every claim you read. Remember: food manufacturers are in the business of making money. Do your research, read labels, and don’t let sugar sneak into your life.