Have you ever worried that the foods you think you’re eating to lose weight or maintain a healthy lifestyle actually aren’t very healthy at all? Well, here’s some bad news: You’re probably right.
Betsy Oriolo, a registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator at St. Elizabeth Physicians’ Weight Management Center in Florence, says these kinds of misconceptions happen more often that you’d think, and closer to home than you’d probably think, too.
Here are four things you probably consume regularly but really shouldn’t:
Sugary beverages like juice, coffee drinks, soda and sweet tea
Most of these drinks have very little nutritional value, as well as a hefty amount of calories and sugar, Oriolo said.
For example, a large sweet tea has 280 calories and 71 grams of sugar, a large fountain soda has 300 calories and 81 grams of sugar, a 16-ounce glass of orange juice has 200 calories and 41 grams of sugar, and a large mocha coffee drink has 340 calories and 43 grams of sugar.
“I think the worst offender is juice,” Oriolo said. “People think that juice is OK to drink but it’s oftentimes higher in calorie and carb content than soda. It’s always better to have a whole fruit rather than drink juice.”
Just because a cereal box lists that it’s whole grain doesn’t mean that it’s healthy, Oriolo warned. Cereal is actually one of the leading sources of sugar in our diets.
Kids’ cereals, especially, are inordinately high in sugar more often than not, with many containing almost double the amount of sugar when compared to most adult cereals.
Also, Oriolo added, most cereals contain very little protein, which means a bowl for breakfast isn’t going to hold you over until lunchtime.
Two other things to beware of are cereals that contain granola and cereals that contain dried fruit. Both can be very high in calories and in carbohydrates.
Fat-free or sugar-free foods
Most people make the mistake of assuming that because a product is fat-free or sugar-free it’s automatically low in calories.
That’s wrong, Oriolo said: “Typically when taking out the fat, companies replace it with sugar.”
So many fat-free products also end up containing more carbohydrates and calories than their regular, non-low-calorie counterparts.
“Make sure you check the calories, fat and carbohydrate contents on your food labels,” Oriolo said.
Gluten-free diets have been a popular food trend over the past several years whether a person has celiac disease requiring the diet or not, Oriolo said. But most people don’t realize that not only are these products more expensive but they also tend to be higher in calories, fat and carbohydrates.
“Don’t be surprised if you actually gain some weight once you add gluten-free products into your diet,” Oriolo said. “Most of the products out there now are so dense. They’re dense and carb-loaded. They’re higher calorie. And they’re expensive.”
Digesting that some of the foods you’re eating aren’t actually healthy can be a hard pill to swallow, but your waistline will thank you if you lose them from your diet now.