Choosing healthy food at the grocery store can be tough! There are so many options, and with people wanting to get fit and feel better, marketers have started trying to make their products seem like the perfect choice for healthy living, even if they’re really not. It can be confusing! Luckily all it takes is a closer look at the package to see whether a food will be a nourishing choice or not.
Nutrition is going to be a key component in your health and fitness journey and to making the progress you want to! When we eat well, we feel better, and when we feel better we have more energy to smash out our daily workouts. If you want more nutrition information and recipes check out my Get Fit Food Guide!
I’m going to give you a few quick tips to decide whether you’re looking at a fake health food or something worth eating, along with some alternatives to try if it’s not quite as healthy as you thought.
? Wheat Bread – The issue with most breads at the store is the quality of their ingredients. They’ve been bleached and re-fortified with synthetic nutrients. So it’s key here to really look at the ingredients in the bread, not just the title or name on the package. It’s easy to think we’re making the right choice as long as it says ‘wheat’ or ‘whole grain’ on the front, but labels can be really deceiving. Even if the front of the bag says wheat bread, you’re going to want to take a close look at the ingredients! Many of them also add sweeteners and chemicals, so go for a minimal ingredients list as well as the things below.
Look for things like whole wheat, whole grain wheat, or whole ‘whatever grain the bread is made from’ flour.
Avoid things like enriched bleached flour, enriched unbleached flour or wheat flour. These have all been stripped and are just other names for white flour.
? Trail Mix & Granola – We see oats, nuts and fruit; what could possibly go wrong here? Those things are all great on their own! The problem is what’s added to them. So, once again we’re going to check the ingredients list. Most of the problem we’ll find is added sugar. Whether it’s M&M’s or chocolate chips, it’s going to create a much less nourishing snack than we were aiming for. Be sure to remember, even when looking at varieties with fruit rather than chocolate, the fruit is usually dried and most of the time made with some form of processed sugar added in. The other issue is added oils; the nuts or granola are usually baked or roasted, and unhealthy oils like canola or other ultra processed oils are usually used because they’re inexpensive.
Try making your own granola at home! You can pick what goes in and know that you’re fueling your body right. Plus, you can make a giant batch that will last all week, maybe more. Try one of my favorite easy granola recipes: Chocolate Granola, Easy Date Sweetened Granola, or Simple Honey Sweetened Granola. They’re all delicious and easy to make!
If home made granola isn’t your thing, there are brands sweetened with dates that have minimal ingredients! They’ll just be a bit pricey.
? Most protein snack bars & bottled protein shakes – Once again, the problem here is all the added sugar. Often times we look exclusively at the protein content and figure if it’s high in protein it must be great for us! In reality, probably 85% of the protein bars and post workout shakes on the shelves fall into the fake health foods to avoid category. They’re chock full of sugar and in reality, it’s pretty close to eating a candy bar post workout. Sure, the protein is great, but the 20 grams of processed sugar per serving can’t be ignored!
Try things that are based off real foods like LaraBars or RxBars. These are sweetened with dates and have no added sugar, along with other whole food benefits! Or better yet (and more cost effective) make them at home! Here’s one of my favorite LaraBar subs, Power Brownie Bites.
Honestly your best bet with the shakes is to make them at home. Grab yourself a quality, additive free protein powder and blend yourself up a shake! You can get so much more out of this than a store bought one by adding things like flax cacao or nut milk and sweetening it with dates or date paste. All of those will give you whole food benefits.
? Store Bought Smoothies – Stopping in your nearest smoothie shop for a snack may seem like a great idea, but they’re not quite as healthy as they’re made out to be. Most smoothie places add quite a bit of sugar to the already sweet fruit to guarantee that it tastes delicious and you’ll come back for more.
If you decide to stop at the smoothie shop, be sure to ask for no added sugar to your order. Better yet, make your own smoothie at home! Just blend your favorite fruits with a little bit of juice (no sugar added) or nut milk and enjoy!
? Low Fat Foods – Here’s the deal: fat is not going to make you fat but the packaged foods marketed as ‘low fat’ just might. Besides, we need fat. It adds flavor and has tons of vital uses in the body! It also doesn’t turn straight into body fat when eaten, so don’t stress! ‘Low fat’ foods are full of added sugar and chemicals to replace the fat that’s been taken away. These should be avoided altogether.
Go for healthy fats from things like avocado, coconut oil, nuts and seeds!
Ok, I know this was long! I really hope that it helped you in some way! Let me know in the comments what you’d like to see more of or if you have any questions that you’d love a post about!
Sweat, Smile, Repeat!