Have you been eating “healthy” foods but still wondering why you’re not losing weight or seeing the progress you’re after?! Guys. What I’m about to tell you is going to BLOW your mind! There are SO MANY foods out there that we’ve been taught are healthy, but they’re actually sabotaging our progress. These foods have a BIG reputation—for being GOOD for us, but they may not deliver in the right ways. I’m going to break down the most common ones and show you exactly why they’re NOT and what you can be opting for instead. Watch my video or read below to find out more!
11 Unhealthy Foods Disguised as Healthy
1. Granola—sugar, sugar, and more calories
Granola is one of those common foods we know is healthy for us, but every time we eat it, we just can’t figure out why we’re not losing weight or hitting our nutrition goals! I’m talking about the bags of granola (not the bars) that you sprinkle over your yogurt or eat with your favorite milk. Chances are, the granola you’re buying is packed full of sugar and calories.
- Healthy tip: Always read your labels and look at the ingredients. Search for granola that is full of healthy, wholesome ingredients such as nuts, seeds, oats, and flax and those without a ton of binders (honey, syrups, and sugars).
You can typically find healthier versions of granola in the bulk and bin section of your health foods store.
2. Protein Bars—many are just glorified candy bars
Everyone thinks that in order to be healthy or help repair muscles after a workout, you need a protein bar. But the truth is actually pretty scary. They’re a lot closer to a Snickers bar with just a smudge of protein.
- Healthy tip: A good rule of thumb is to find a protein bar that has somewhere around 5-8 grams of fat (no more than that unless you’re following a Keto diet), 12-25 grams of carbs, and at least 20 grams of protein.
Pay attention to the added sugar in everything you do! If sugar is making up most of the carb content, it’s a big red flag, and you should be looking for a different bar instead.
3. Dried Fruit—often means added juices and sugars
So many of us think that dried fruit is a great snack because hey, it’s fruit, right? Wrong. A handful of dried bananas will come in just over 500 calories, while a whole banana is right around 100 calories, and a handful of fresh raspberries is 34 calories. When fruit gets dried, it takes up less space, right? Which means there’s room for more of it. Plus a lot of brands add juices and sugar to raise that calorie content right up.
- Healthy tip: Opt for fresh fruit, always!
4. Fruit Juice—Again more added sugar
Just like with the dried fruit, we think we’re making healthier choices because hey, it’s fruit, and fruit is good for us. The difference is that fruit juice is literally pure sugar. It’s just loaded with it. Even the fresh squeezed juices have a really high sugar content, so even if you think you’re being healthy, you’re honestly just taking in too much sugar.
- Healthy tip: Look for fresh squeezed juice that is diluted with water. If you love to grab fresh juice or green juices from your local juice bars, ask what the ingredients are!
My local favorite is a power greens drink that is made up of kale, celery, lemon, and TWO APPLES, bringing this drink to over 200 calories. Knowing this helps me know how to order, so now I ask that they only include 1/2 of an apple instead of two full ones. Always ask what goes into your drinks so you can make those swaps if needed!
5. Gluten-free + organic
There’s a big misconception that if something is gluten-free and organic, then it’s healthy. Guys, it’s not. A brownie is a brownie, whether it contains wheat-based flour or gluten-free flour.
- Healthy tip: Pay attention to your labels and ingredients!
6. Salads (and most salad dressings)
I hear it so often: You’re going on a diet (I hate that word, but we’ll address that in another blog, another day!), so you’re going to eat salads full of greens, lettuce, carrots, and veggies. It has to be healthy, right? Yet no matter how many salads you eat, you still can’t shed the pounds, and on top of that, you’re ALWAYS hungry and craving food. It’s because you’re sabotaging yourself with salad dressing. It takes a super disciplined person (I’m not even that person!) to only use 1-2 tablespoons of salad dressing on top of their salads. So you cover that dang meal in tons of dressing, which packs on hundreds of calories and loads of fat, totally defeating the purpose.
- Healthy tip: Look for calorie-free or low-calorie dressing so you can feel satisfied and enjoy your salad without having to sacrifice taste, flavor, or the actual health benefits of eating all those veggies.
7. Sushi—Not all Sushi is created equal
We all love sushi, right? And it’s so good for us, right? Ehh…depends on what you get. There are actually two kinds of sushi, and not all sushi is created equal. You can get the white rice and raw sashimi, which is actually very healthy. And then there are the rolls. The oh-so-yummy rolls that everyone wants. But the majority of those rolls are fried. And if they’re not fried on the outside, you can bet there’s some kind of fried fish on the inside, wrapped in avocado, and cream cheese, and sauce…and then you dip it in high-sodium soy sauce. So not only are you eating a ton of fat, but you’re taking in a ton of sodium. And your date night just got super unhealthy, super fast.
- Healthy tip: If you’re craving sushi, opt for the raw ingredients and rolls that aren’t fried. Don’t be afraid of avocado—it’s a healthy fat! Just make sure there’s not a lot of other fat added into those rolls right along with it.
Everyone loves yogurt. That’s why there’s a huge section in every store because we know it’s healthy, so we should be buying tons of it. But just like everything else, all yogurt is not created equal. Most contain a high sugar content, not a lot of live cultures, and very low protein. Some yogurts are completely processed.
- Healthy tip: Look for Greek yogurt. They typically have a lower sugar content, higher protein content, and are way better for us. I like to choose yogurt that has 0 grams of fat because then I can get my fat from what I add into it: nuts and healthy granola (like we talked about up top!). You can even add fresh fruit (not dried!). Steer clear of the other kinds of yogurt!
9. Microwave popcorn
This has always been one of my favorite snacks, but I was shocked when I learned that I was definitely eating the wrong kind. Most microwave popcorn is loaded with butter and salt and can pack in 400-500+ calories per bag.
- Healthy tip: Look for brands that aren’t movie theater popcorn and aren’t loaded with butter and salt.
Instead, try and find the ones that are seasoned with sea salt. A great kind to get is the 100 calorie Smart Pop bags that are already perfectly portioned and will still give you that crunch and flavor you’re craving in a snack.
10. Pickles—Check the sodium
People eat pickles because they only have like 5 calories in one giant pickle, and that seems amazing. It hits your craving while not taking in a ton of calories. But what people don’t realize is that pickles are loaded with sodium. You ingest a giant pickle, and your body can hold on to 5+ pounds of water the next day. Chris and I used to see this ALL the time with contestants on the show, and I used to see the same thing in myself after eating pickles! (Check out my video to see a crazy picture!).
- Healthy tip: Pickles are great to add on salads or sandwiches, but do not go on a pickle diet unless you want severe hypertension and swollen limbs. #heidilessons
11. Protein shake
Not all protein shakes are created equal. If you’re making your own and controlling your own ingredients, great. But be aware of nutrition shops and different stores that often conveniently located by gyms. They lure you in with something that sounds amazing…a cinnamon crunch or peanut butter and jelly shake. But what you don’t realize is those shakes are more like milk shakes. They usually contain ingredients that are full of fat: whole milk, actual jelly, quarter cups of peanut butter. And then you’re totally defeating the purpose of why you got a protein shake to begin with.
- Healthy tip: ASK what the ingredients are going to be if you’re out and buying a shake on the go. Otherwise, stick to making your own! That way you know without a shadow of a doubt what you’re eating/drinking, and you can feel good about the choices you’re making!
Need a super delicious AND healthy protein shake? Well…I’ve got a couple of amazing options for you! For a true meal on the go, check out our Chris + Heidi Low Carb Meal Replacements Shakes (which come in several flavors: chocolate peanut butter or mint cookie, anyone???), and we just launched our Chocolate Perform Protein Whey Isolate Shake. Both are filled with top-quality ingredients, are delicious with both water or your fave milk, and the macros are 👌🏻.
Remember, guys: Being healthy is all about balance. I’m not saying you can’t indulge and have a few of your favorite treats here and there. But if you’re wanting to see results, you have to be consistent. Let me know which swap or change you’re going to make this week!
Fast Food Survival Guide: Snacks and Meals on the Go
The DOs and DO-NUTs of DONUTS
Why Most Meal Plans Suck and How to Find the Right One for You
Healthy Meal Prepping: Tips to Eating Healthy on a Budget
Pantry Refresh || How to Organize Your Pantry for Healthy Eating