It’s safe to say that eating right is a way lot easier than it used to be, especially since the market is filled with options that satisfy any eating plan of your choosing. However, with so many foods readily available, it’s easy to stumble upon options that may seem innocently healthy at first but prove to be much worse than the foods you are trying to give up.
To help you determine those seemingly “healthy” food swaps, we spoke to some expert dietitians on the topic to help steer you in the right direction. Below are some of the food alternatives they say may seem healthy but are actually worse than you think.
You are swapping soda for kombucha.
Although kombucha may seem like an innocent soda alternative, registered dietitian Alicia Galvin Smith, MEd, RD, LD, CLT, IFNCP, explained that you’ll want to be careful when swapping soda for kombucha, as some bottles (depending on the brand) contain as much sugar as a regular soda.
“While kombucha provides healthy good bacteria, some brands can have as much sugar as a regular soda,” she said. “Make sure you look at the label carefully, and choose kombuchas that have less than three to four grams of sugar per serving,” she added.
You are eating gluten-free baked goods, but don’t have a sensitivity to gluten.
“Gluten-free does not mean it’s healthier,” Galvin Smith said. In fact, to make processed gluten-free products taste good, she said that companies often have to add more ingredients. Sometimes, this process allows gluten-free items to pack on more carbs and sugar than the regular version, she explained.
If going you are interested in trying a gluten-free diet, she advised choosing naturally gluten-free foods such as nuts, seeds, fruits, veggies, and meats.
You think organic cookies are better.
“Organic cookies from a health food store do not usually provide additional nutritional benefits over conventional cookies,” said registered dietitian Summer Yule, MS, RDN. Many organic cookies are still loaded with added sugar and refined flour, she explained.
You think low-fat milk is healthier than whole milk.
“I would argue that low-fat flavored milk is not beneficial over plain whole milk,” Yule told INSIDER. A cup of low-fat chocolate milk and a cup of plain whole milk contain about the same amount of calories, she said.
You think multi-grain bread is better than white bread.
“I’ve had many people tell me that they have switched to multi-grain bread thinking that it’s better since it contains multiple grains,” said registered dietitian nutritionist Kelly Krikhely, MS, RD, CDN. Unfortunately, multigrain bread is really white bread masquerading as a health food, she said.
You tend to think low-fat foods are better.
Most people think that low-fat foods are better, but that isn’t always the case, according to registered dietitian Katey Davidson, MScFN, RD. “Higher fat foods are more satiating compared to low-fat, meaning that they fill us up quicker,” Davidson explained. “Low-fat foods also tend to have higher amounts of sugar in comparison,” she added.
You think store-bought veggie burgers are a great example of plant based food.
Davidson explained that eating plant-based foods is a good part of any healthy diet. However, she said that pre-made plant-based burgers tend to be very high in salt, fat, and a long list of ingredients. Instead, she advised making your plant-based burgers from home. “They are easy to make and this ensures you know exactly what is in your food,” she added.
You are turning to sugar-free foods.
“While most health professionals recommend a diet low in added sugars, the replacement to sugar isn’t always best,” Davidson said. Research is starting to show that artificial sweeteners trick our brains into thinking we are eating sugar, but the calories are missing, she said. This may lead to overeating since our stomachs do not tell our brains we are full, she added.
You think sandwich wraps are healthier than bread.
“No matter if they are green, orange, or brown, sandwich wraps are not necessarily healthier than bread,” said registered dietitian Staci Gulbin, MS, MEd, RD, LDN. For example, she explained that approximately one 12-inch wrap is around 350 calories and contains only about three grams or less of fibre. Even a seemingly healthier spinach wrap usually has low fibre content, she added.
You are eating low-fat cream cheese instead of cheese.
Cream cheese may be a delicious alternative to cheese. However, Davidson explained that this food item is very low in protein. “One ounce (two tablespoons) of low-fat cream cheese contains about 70 calories and only about six grams of fat, but only two grams of protein,” she said. On the other hand, she noted that an ounce of cheddar cheese, although around 110 calories and nine grams of fat, contains about seven grams of protein.
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