Multi-Grain Bread: It may sound healthy, but bread and other baked goods with this name, or a version of it (7-grain, 12-grain, etc.) are often refined and not 100% whole grain. The “multi” refers to the fact that there is more than one grain used; however, the grains used are often refined grains. Whenever you see multi-grain, or any other name that isn’t “100% whole wheat/grain”, be sure to check the ingredients list first. If the first word of the flours used isn’t “whole”, as in “whole grain” or “whole wheat flour”, it’s not a completely whole grain food. Refined flours are usually called “unbleached” or “bleached enriched wheat flour”.
Gluten Free Baked Goods: Let’s get something straight, “gluten free” does NOT mean that a food is healthier, lower in calories, or even more natural. The only thing it means is that the food does not contain gluten, a protein in wheat, rye, and barley. For people with a disease called celiac disease, gluten free foods are necessary to maintain their health. For those who don’t have celiac disease, replacing a regular cookie with a gluten free cookie is not in any way healthier. Cookies, candy, cake, sugary cereals, etc. should still be considered treats due to a lack of nutrition and a high calorie and sugar content.
Granola: For some reason the word granola screams “healthy cereal” to many people. While some granolas are healthier than others, and can definitely be a part of a healthy diet, it should be used as an accent and not eaten in the same quantities as regular cereal. Granola is more concentrated in calories, and usually higher in sugar. An average brand of granola contains approximately 400-500 calories and 25-35 grams of sugar per cup. Whereas a lightly sweetened whole grain cereal, such as Barbara’s Multigrain Shredded Spoonfuls, contains just 160 calories and 6 grams of sugar per cup. This is a huge difference that would even allow you to add a tablespoon of nuts and a whole cup of fruit to your cereal and still have fewer calories and sugar. So, use a quarter cup of a lower sugar granola (like KIND brand or Renola) to add flavor and crunch, but use an unsweetened or lightly sweetened whole grain cereal if you want a bowl of cereal.
Reduced-Fat Peanut Butter: You may think that lowering the fat content of a food would always be healthier. Not so in the case of peanut butter. The calories in reduced fat peanut butter are about the same as the full fat version. And the healthy fat that is removed is replaced by extra sugar and sometimes other less healthy oils. For the healthiest PB, opt for a natural version that contains only peanuts and salt.
Vanilla Yogurt: Yogurt is overall a very healthy food–– rich in protein and calcium. However, when it has too much added sugar, it yields extra calories with zero additional nutrition. Many people think of vanilla yogurt and plain yogurt as one in the same, but they’re very different. In fact, it’s a difference of about 20 grams (or 5 teaspoons) of added sugar per 8 ounce serving. Instead of buying vanilla yogurt, try plain yogurt instead and add 1 teaspoon of your favorite sweetener (brown sugar, maple syrup, etc.) and a dash of vanilla extract. You’ll still come in with much less sugar than the vanilla yogurt. Alternatively, simply add fruit for a nutritious way to naturally sweeten your yogurt.
What foods would you add to this list?