Healthy food provides your body with the necessary nutrition to function optimally, without negative side effects. Unfortunately, there are a few foods out there that we commonly believe are good for us (or better than others), which simply are not. These foods may be sabotaging your attempts to lose weight, or even to manage a healthy weight. So, if you are trying for a healthier lifestyle, avoid these so-called "healthy” foods:
1. Diet Soda
Regular soda, of course, contains a lot of sugar (usually high-fructose corn syrup, which is not good for you). However, assuming that switching to a no-sugar diet brand will be healthier is a common failing. Studies have shown that diet sodas can actually increase weight gain and the risk of diabetes. Primarily, this is because the excessive "sweetness” of diet sodas trick the body into producing insulin (which in turn tells the body to store fat) while slowing down metabolism.
A healthier alternative would be a low-sugar fruit juice (such as grapefruit or cherry) combined with club soda, a naturally-flavored sparkling water, or just water (add some cucumber or lemon slices for flavor). If you lower the amount of sweet foods in your diet, your body will crave it less.
2. Whole-Grain Pasta
While you are certainly better off choosing whole-grain options when it comes to baked goods and pasta, the tendency is to forget that pasta of any kind is primarily a carbohydrate. Including pasta in your diet may provide too much of a temptation to exceed your daily intake — which won’t help you with weight loss or weight management.
Instead, find low-carb pasta options. Healthy alternatives include black bean spaghetti (25g of protein per 180 calorie serving) or spaghetti squash. You can also purchase a spiralizer to convert zucchini or carrots into colorful, healthy pasta dishes.
3. Most Store-Bought Spaghetti Sauces
A large percentage of store-bought sauces are astonishingly high in sugar and sodium, which are both bad for your quest for a healthy body. Even the so-called "light” brands often have unhealthy ingredients. If you absolutely don’t want to make your own pasta sauce, find a good brand with a small amount of simple ingredients and low sugar (7g per serving or less) and sodium contents.
Many condiments, particularly ketchup and mayonnaise, add extra calories in the form of sugar or fat to your meal. You might not realize it — but it all adds up and can prevent you from reaching or maintaining your goals. Additionally, many sauces (like soy and teriyaki) are high in sodium and may contain MSG. Before you add something to your food, take a look at the ingredients or nutrition label, and perhaps try for a healthier alternative.
Some "good” condiments include mustard, hot sauce, hummus, and guacamole (in reasonable amounts).
While you are probably already avoiding high-sugar cereals like Fruit Loops or Cinnamon Toast Crunch, other "healthier” options can be detrimental to your weight loss success. For example, Honey Nut Cheerios are often touted as a whole grain, healthy, and cholesterol-lowering cereal, but contain one-third of the recommended daily sugar intake. What you want is cereal that is low in sugar and high in fiber, so it slows down your digestion to keep you feeling full for longer.
Better cereal options include regular Cheerios, All-Bran, Mini-Wheats (unfrosted), and Nature’s Path Smart Bran. The best route to take would be to skip the cereal entirely and make yourself some oatmeal with flax seed and fresh fruit instead.
Remember, it’s all about making smart choices — and not believing everything you read on the front of a box, can, or jar. Avoid high sugar, sugar alternatives, sodium, and excessive carbs or fat. Replace these foods with fresh alternatives like vegetables when you can, and, most importantly, don’t be too hard on yourself for the occasional slip-up.