More often than not, I see people classifying foods into one of two categories “good foods” and “bad foods”. Good foods are believed to be the ticket to good health and the weight of your dreams while bad foods are admonished for making you instantly fat and unhealthy. While I do believe some foods should be moderated and consumed less often than others (i.e. cake, fried foods & alcohol to name a few), it is important not to automatically categorize foods. All foods has it’s place and can be incorporated into a healthy lifestyle and there is a lot of misinformation out there on what is “healthy” and what is not.
This post is a play on a previous one I wrote awhile back called “‘Bad’ Foods That Are Really Good For You”. Today, I am flipping it and want to educate you about foods people commonly think are healthier choices, but which may not be.
**DISCLAIMER: I am not necessarily saying these options are unhealthy ALL THE TIME**
They can, in fact, be healthy options and I will point out some key things to look out for to make sure of this.
Sweet Potato Fries
Better than regular fries? No. Fries are still that, FRIED. Yes, they contain more vitamin A than the classic variety, but they are still high in fat and calories.
Avoid this by baking your own at home and by keeping your portion size in check when eating out.
Choose the salad over a burger right? However, although salads are comprised of a low-calorie vegetable base, their health value can easily go down when you add tons of high-fat dressings, fatty meats (think bacon), cheese, nuts and other “fun” toppings. For example, McDonalds Premium Southwest salad with crispy chicken contains 510 calories and 26 grams of fat…without the dressing. This is more than their cheeseburger, which contains only 300 calories and 12 grams of fat.
Avoid this by choosing a low-fat or vinaigrette dressing (and limiting your portion size to a couple tablespoons) and adding only 2-3 of the “fun” toppings described above. Also include a source of lean protein such as beans, grilled chicken or fish if your salad is an entrée. Protein digests slowly, keeping you fuller longer.
Frozen yogurt is oftentimes thought to be better for you than ice cream. However, this is not the case. Fro-yo is usually fat-free/low-fat and manufacturers make up for this flavor loss by adding more sugar to compensate. Thus, it is not necessarily lower in calories than traditional ice cream or custard. Additionally, filling up those massive containers and adding all the chocolate toppings doesn’t make fro-yo a health food.
Avoid this by limiting your portion to 1-1/2 cups and moderating your higher-calorie toppings.
A lot of times restaurants use both white and dark meat in their turkey burger recipes, making them just as high in fat and calories as beef-based burgers. This is true for some frozen patties you’de buy at the grocery store as well
Avoid this by double-checking with your server and/or food label to make sure only white meat is used.
Again, these are not always unhealthy choices, but be aware of these caveats and keep them in mind when reading labels and dining out.