With food marketing everywhere, and clever labelling terms designed to lull you into a false sense of security, something really simple like eating healthily has become a huge minefield, and trying to eat healthily could be the very thing keeping you fat.
So to help get through the mines with both legs attached, here’s a quick guide to four very common healthy options that are secretly out to get you.
1) Frozen Yoghurt
Ice-cream makes you fat, right? So try this healthy alternative!
Frozen yoghurt has virtually NO fat (which they’ll proudly boast on the label)! It’s like the dessert holy grail!
Except it’s not.
It’s true it’s virtually fat free, so what’s it made of?
In a word – Sugar. Yeah there’s other stuff, (it’s called yoghurt for a reason!), but this stuff is essentially frozen sugar.
Just one 250g serving has nearly 270 calories, and nearly 50g of sugar!
That’s 12 teaspoons! You wouldn’t put that in your tea, would you?
You’d actually be better off having ice-cream on your ‘cheat’ or re-feed day than having this stuff and feeling like you’re doing yourself a favour.
2) Fruit Juice
This is one of those things that couldn’t possibly unhealthy
The big problem with fruit juice is serving size. The average piece of fruit has around 80 calories and around 20g of sugar.
Now, the first thing to note is that is is good sugar, and that’s OK in the right amounts, but when we get that as a piece of food, we tend to stop after the one.
Once we turn that into liquid, we can suddenly cram the equivalent of 2 or 3 pieces of fruit into one glass!
In fact one 330ml glass of fruit juice has around 150-160 calories and nearly 40g sugar.
Now if you’re putting this in smoothies which already have whole fruit in them, or drinking this on top of eating fruit, you can see this adds up fast!
Plus most fruit juices are concentrated and/or have a bunch of added sugar to sweeten them, again ramping up the calories even further.
So if you get the real deal, i.e. Pure, not-from-concentrate, no-added-sugar fruit juice squeezed from, you know, actual fruits, then you are getting in the good stuff. BUT it still needs to be treated as part as your normal fruit consumption (about half a glass is one serving of fruit), not drank as a form of hydration.
3) Dried Fruit
Dried fruit is a great on-the-go snack. You can grab a handful and bag it up, chuck it in your bag, and you’re on it like Sonic. The problem with dried fruit though is the way it’s presented.
Dried fruits are dehydrated fruits, so a fruit that was originally the size of a tennis ball is now the size of a peanut. Problem is, it still has all the calories of the tennis ball! So now instead of eating one fruit as a snack, taking your time – biting a bit off, chewing, swallowing, savouring, enjoying, while also giving your stomach time to realise that it’s full – you’re throwing what is effectively several fruits straight down your throat like sweeties!
For comparison, around 15 grapes weigh 80-90g and have about 60-65 calories. The same grammage of raisins has 250-300 calories and over 60g of sugar.
Often in the process, companies who sell various dried fruits in brightly coloured little bags with cute logos pump extra sugar back into them too for sweetness. This will ramp up the calories even more.
So like fruit juice, watch out for dried fruit. There’s nothing wrong with it as a food, but because of the way it comes it’s way too easy to over-eat. Where possible, go for the real deal.
4) Gluten-Free foods
Although only around 6% of the population have a genuine wheat/gluten intolerance, the sales of “Free-from” foods have rocketed by around 25% in the last year alone. And it’s no wonder, with the advertising campaigns designed to pitch them as being in some way healthier.
The problem is they’re not. In fact, because of the ingredients they use to mimic the taste and texture of wheat based products (such as cornstarch), most of them have more calories than the food they’re supposed to replace. Plus to make them as ‘authentic’ as possible, they often end up having an ingredients list as long as your arm.
Instead, if an intolerance is stopping you from ditching the wobbly stuff, don’t try to replace foods you used to eat with a facsimile, just stick to whole foods that are naturally gluten free.
Which one of these has caught you out? Comment below!