8 foods to skip on your next grocery store trip
Are the “health foods” you’re buying actually healthy for you? While no single food is unhealthy enough to warrant being universally labeled as a food to exclude, many grocery shoppers buy foods they think are healthy only to find out later that they actually are not. If you’re buying these eight foods consistently with a goal of boosting your health, it might be time to rethink your visit to the grocery store.
1) Fruit juice
When possible, choose whole fruits rather than fruit juice. Fiber delays absorption of the naturally occurring sugars found in whole fruits. When fruit is juiced, the fiber is removed, leaving easily absorbable sugars behind. A one-cup serving of fruit juice contains around 30 grams of sugar, the same amount you would find in 7½ teaspoons of white table sugar.
2) Granola, fiber, or protein bars
These seem like a quick, easy option for on-the-go meals. While good versions of these foods certainly exist, they can be very hard to find. Many bars contain high amounts of sugar and very little protein or fat, making them more similar to a candy bar than a full meal. If you are using these as a meal replacement, try to find a bar that has at least a 1:1 ratio of protein to total carbohydrates.
3) Flavored yogurt
Yogurt can be a wonderful source of both probiotics and protein, but oversweetened yogurts can have enough sugar to be more detrimental than helpful to your health. It is not uncommon for flavored yogurts to contain as much sugar as an 8-ounce can of soda. Rather than buying flavored or fruit on the bottom yogurts, try buying plain yogurt, adding fresh or frozen fruit, and sweetening it with a light drizzle of honey.
4) Diet soda
Nothing in the food world ever comes without a cost, and that includes diet soda. Although the nutrition label shows no calories, no fat, and no sugar, diet sodas have been linked with greater risk for obesity, diabetes, metabolic syndrome and cardiovascular disease. Rather than soda, try water flavored with freshly squeezed lime or lemon. If quitting cold turkey is too hard, start by drinking at least as much water as you do soda, and gradually cut back from there.
5) Frozen meals
Walking down the aisle of frozen meals can be tempting to those always on the go. Many frozen meals are loaded with sodium and low in nutrient-rich foods, even when the packaging makes it appear like a healthy choice. Many diet entrees are also so low in calories and nutrients that they do not make a nutritionally adequate meal. Rather than buying one of these meals, try preparing some protein-based entrees like grilled chicken in advance at the start of the week, then pair that with a vegetable for a quick and easy meal.
6) Sweetened dairy alternatives
Almond, soy, and coconut milk are among the newest health fads. While the plain, unsweetened versions of these products can undoubtedly be a healthy choice, many shoppers purchase the heavily sweetened versions of these foods thinking they will get the same benefits. While unsweetened almond milk naturally contains no sugar at all, one cup of vanilla almond milk will give you about 15 grams of added sugar. If you want to try a non-dairy milk, always opt for the unsweetened versions.
While not inherently bad for you, most bagels are the carbohydrate and calorie equivalent of three to four slices of bread. Many bagels are made out of refined flour, which is naturally low in vitamins, minerals and fiber. Rather than a bagel, opt for a whole grain slice of bread or English muffin. If you simply must have a bagel, eat them by halves or scoop out the soft interior portion to cut back on the total amount of bread at the meal.
8) Frozen yogurt
Frozen yogurt has a reputation as being much healthier than ice cream. While most frozen yogurts are indeed lower in fat, many are equal to or even higher in calories and sugar than their ice cream counterparts! For a sweet treat at the end of the night, try fresh berries in yogurt. If nothing but ice cream or frozen yogurt will do, limit your portion to about a one-half-cup serving.
Shannon Adair is a registered dietitian and health coach. She works with individuals to promote simple lifestyle changes that result in lasting health improvements.