We’re three weeks in. How is everyone doing with their resolutions?
While I presume not all of you are on a quest to lose weight, my assumption is that most of you have every intention to “eat better.” Eating better could mean any number of things, but my hope is that you’re all on a mission to eat more real foods and less processed ones. To choose local if possible, and to start preparing even one more meal than you typically used to, at home.
We all have the best intentions. And when schedules start to get crazy and life starts barging in sometimes (OK, maybe most times), quick and easy begins to take precedent over thought out and healthy.
As you do your weekly shopping trip, trying to find that sweet spot of healthy and convenient, the food choices in front of us can be completely overwhelming. And while you have the best of intentions, many packaged foods sound healthier than they actually are.
Below are 5 common foods that often disguise themselves into the healthy category. Plus an alternative tip to help you stay on track.
As always comment with thoughts and questions!
Calcium is a crucial nutrient for women. It’s even more important for women who run. But if you’ve been to the grocery store recently you’ve probably noticed that there is almost and entire wall devoted to yogurt. All claiming to be good for you in some way, and far fewer that actually deliver on their claims. While some fruit blends contain no fruit at all, others have a puree on the bottom that rocks the sugar scale.
Pro Tip: To get your fill of calcium, vitamin D, probiotics and protein, always choose a plain yogurt free from additives or sugar (read the ingredient list!). Sweeten yourself with a tsp of honey or pure maple syrup and/or add in your own sweet fruits.
Low Fat Peanut Butter
Do me a favor. Promise me that from this moment forward, you will NEVER, EVER buy low-fat nut butter ever, ever again. Nut butters are good for us, especially us runners who are out there pushing it, but your nut butter should have 1 ingredient (maybe 2): nuts (and possibly salt). In order to have any flavor, manufactures put all sorts of horrible additives, including SUGAR! to compensate for the lack of fat. Fat is an entirely different post, but trust me on this one.
Pro Tip: Be an ingredient sleuth. Or even better, buy roasted unsalted peanuts and blend in yourself until smooth (aprox. 5 min.) Sprinkle with sea salt to taste.
Muffins are always dangerous, but the word bran sitting in front of it somehow quickly convinces us otherwise. Bran, after all is high in fiber, minimally processed, keeps the digestive tract in order, and more. Though the bran is likely never to blame in the muffin, the high amount of sugar and canola oil is. In fact, the nutrition fact panel of a muffin (even a bran muffin) can be upwards for 1600- 2000 calories, 40+ grams of sugar and usually worse for you than a chocolate chip cookie.
Pro Tip: Make your own muffins over the weekend in mini muffin tins. Store in the freezer and take out 1 – 2 to crumble over some plain greek yogurt (or pair with a hard boiled egg) for a quick breakfast.
Don’t get me wrong, I love muesli. Because what’s not to love? Oats, dried fruit, nuts. It’s all delicious. But with the tastiness typically comes a lot of kilojoules all wrapped up in a little package. ½ cup of muesli easily clocks in over 800 kilojoules. So, while a ½ cup of muesli pre-run might be just what the Dr. ordered, always make sure to keep your portions in check.
Pro Tip: keep a ¼ cup measuring tool in your box of granola.
I’m a HUGE smoothie drinker. They are a fantastic way to pack in a lot of nutrients and they are easy on the digestive system, especially after a hard workout. While making smoothies at home is a fantastic post-workout snack or breakfast, we can easily fall into a sugar bomb, leaving you with a bowl of frosted flakes as the better option. Opt for grab-and-go smoothies only if you can control ingredients or read nutrition label (look for only whole foods listed, such as fruits and greens, and stick to around or under 1250 kilojoules, less if it’s a snack).
Pro Tip: Make a batch of smoothie one night and portion it out for three grab-and-go breakfasts in the AM. My current favorite.