12 Foods That May Seem Healthy but Aren’t

Last week I was at a breakfast meeting and the person sitting across from questioned if my omelet was indeed healthy. I am asked to defend or explain my food choices fairly often and this was an easy one. Eggs are healthy, doctors no longer think that they raise your cholesterol and it’s safe to eat an egg per day.

I had a new client tell me when he wants to eat light he’ll order tuna salad or a grilled cheese. I had to explain that the mayonnaise in traditional tuna salad made the sandwich pretty high in calories and fat. I’m not sure why he thought grilled cheese was healthy but fried cheesy things may be tasty but they aren’t healthy.

Flavored instant oatmeal

The fruit names sound good and oatmeal is healthy. Unfortunately flavored instant oatmeal packets have less fiber than rolled or steel cut oats. They also have much more added sugar and artificial ingredients. Stick with whole oats and add your own fruit and toppings.

Flavored yogurt

Similar to instant oatmeal flavored yogurts have either a lot of added sugar or a lot of artificial sweeteners. Plain, regular or Greek, has much less sugar, a good amount of protein, and probiotics.

Granola

Granola can have a lot of oil and sugar added to it. Choose a granola that is low in sugar and calories to ensure that your snack stays healthy.

Wheat or whole grain bread

Whole grains are good for you but unless the bread says 100% whole grain or whole wheat you aren’t getting only whole grains. Many commercial breads are mainly regular white flour with some whole grain flour added. Read your labels here.

Wraps

Wraps sound like a light choice compared to a regular sandwich but most wraps are high in calories, sodium, and fat and low in fiber. If you want a sandwich stick with 100% whole grain bread.

Yogurt muffins

Many of these claim to be low-fat and while some are most are high in sugar. They are also way larger than a homemade muffin and pack a lot of calories as well. Since there isn’t much nutritional value you’ll end up hungry in a few hours.

Fruit juice

Many juices aren’t whole juices and they are high in sugar but low in nutrients. If you need to drink juice stick with one that is 100% real fruit juice and stick with a 6oz serving. The best choice is just to eat a piece of fruit, since it also includes fiber.

Smoothies

Smoothies can be a very healthy choice but pre-made smoothies are often very large servings, have added unhealthy ingredients, and are high in sugar. Your best bet is to make your own smoothie at home.

Granola bars

Many granola bars are comparable with candy bars. They are often made with high fructose corn syrup and partially hydrogenated oils (trans fats) without much nutritional value. Choose bars with limited ingredients that are low in sugar and are made with 100% whole grains.

Gluten-free snacks and breads

Gluten-free doesn’t automatically mean healthy. Many of these foods are made with less nutrient dense flours and oils. If you need to avoid gluten for health reasons choose foods that are naturally gluten-free such as lean proteins, whole fruits, vegetables and grains such as buckwheat and quinoa.

Fat-free snacks

Fat-free is another term that seems to have a healthy halo. Fa-free snacks and foods have extra sugar, salt, and additives to make them taste better. They can also be surprisingly high in calories while lower in vitamins and minerals. Naturally fat-free foods such as whole fruits and vegetables are the wise choice.

Frozen diet meals

While many of these meals practice portion control, they don’t pack a nutritional punch. They have too many preservatives and sodium and too few vegetables. A better quick meal is precooked frozen brown rice, frozen veggies of your choice, and beans or shrimp which cook up fast.

Need more ideas on what to cook and what to skip? Follow The Empowered Plate on Facebook where I share healthy meals, health, and fitness tips.

Staying active and eating healthy while on vacation

Bike riding on vacation

Bike riding at the beach

I get asked why I workout on vacation and do I also watch my eating while I’m away. I workout mainly because I feel best when I do. It’s also a great way to get a little time to myself and to explore my vacation spot. I often vacation with family and that hour or two by myself gives me energy and peace.

I carry fitness bands with me so I can strength train and on rainy days I’ll do a fitness video from YouTube or Fitness Blender. There is something to be said for running and biking in a new place. It makes the time fly by and I meet some interesting people. If you have run with me you know I stop to pet ALL the dogs who want to be pet. On vacation I stop for photos of things that interest me along the way. It keeps the workout fun and I have a digital memory of the sites.

Food is slightly more complicated. I bring snacks with me for the car (or plane) ride. I keep healthy snacks on hand for a quick breakfast before a workout or to tide me over to the next meal. I stock up on fruits and vegetables, keep oatmeal, whole grain breads, chia seeds, and sunflower butter on hand for breakfast and healthy options around for lunch.

I rented a house on our last trip so I generally ate breakfast and lunch there. Dinners were split between going out and grilling at the house. I enjoy a salad with both lunch and dinner to help keep me full and get my veggies in. Sometimes lunch is a large salad with some protein.

I do have dessert because I enjoy it. I get the smallest cup of ice cream, sometimes that’s the kiddie cup, or I get some local treats to share with the rest of the family. Dark chocolate also makes a good treat and a square or two is all I need to satisfy me.

When I am in a hotel room I still keep healthy snacks and breakfast on hand. If breakfast is included I usually choose the same options I would have at home: eggs, cereal, yogurt, fruit, etc. If there are waffles I will splurge one day and eat one; lunch that day is a healthier choice.

One thing I generally skip are mixed drinks, I would rather get my calories elsewhere. I do have a glass of wine or a beer but most days I leave it at one. Obviously there are exceptions and I don’t sweat about them.

I keep my choices healthy about 80% of the time on vacation. It’s an easy way to stay in balance without feeling deprived.

What are your tips for staying healthy and still enjoying yourself while on vacation?

Do you need help creating a balanced and healthy eating plan? Email me at janinemchale@empoweredplate.com and together we can come up with a plan that works specifically for you.