I have a friend who was training with a group for her first half marathon and got a little addicted to Clif Chocolate Chip protein bars. She’d meet the group, take off for a run, and end up back in her apartment, eating the “healthy” protein bar. As the half marathon neared, my friend realized her clothes were fitting a little tighter. In addition to not actually training for the half marathon, she added 250 calories and 17 grams of sugar to her day. Compare that to a Snickers bar, which contains 250 calories and 20 grams of sugar.
Sometimes the “healthy” choice isn’t quite what it seems. Today, we’re discussing some health foods that might be ruining your diet.
Disclaimer: there’s no such thing as a good or bad food
Before we dive into this (non-exhaustive) list, we want to stress that there are no good or bad foods. When you label foods like that, it’s a slippery slope to restrictions and disordered eating. Instead of focusing on whether a food is good or bad, healthy or unhealthy, we want to educate you on making choices that support a well-rounded diet.
Turkey bacon and chicken sausage
If you’re substituting turkey bacon for pork bacon, be sure to choose the kind that’s labeled nitrite-free. Some studies have shown an increased cancer risk when ingesting nitrates from processed meats. Plus, any type of bacon is high in sodium.
While turkey bacon and chicken sausage are much lower in fat and cholesterol than the pork versions, remember that they’re not cholesterol-free, so no matter which meat you choose, you should enjoy in moderation.
Açai bowls and smoothies
Undoubtedly, the antioxidants in açai bowls and smoothies benefit your health. But how much sugar is hidden in your breakfast through honey, agave, and granola? Supercharge your breakfast without super-sizing the sugar.
One study by scientists at the University of Alberta determined that one glass of red wine is equivalent to an hour at the gym. However, an entire bottle doesn’t equate to a week’s worth of workouts. The antioxidants in red wine called polyphenols can help increase your “good” cholesterol and protect the lining of your heart. Just remember moderation on this one!
The average 12-ounce cola has 39 grams of sugar. The average sports drink has 21. Sports drinks can replenish the electrolytes lost if you’re training hard for over an hour and sweating a lot. Otherwise, it’s just a sugary drink.
Helloooo, antioxidants! We love the inflammation-fighting powers of dark chocolate— when consumed sparingly. Be sure to choose dark chocolate that’s at least 70% cocoa to reap the benefits.
Gluten-free desserts and baked goods
While going gluten-free is a trendy health kick, if you’re not Celiac, you may be missing out on fiber and other essential nutrients by cutting out the gluten in your favorite baked goods.
Sure, you could throw out everything in your kitchen that’s not a perishable, unprocessed, single-ingredient item, but you don’t need to get rid of everything. Choose to enjoy your favorite things in moderation to avoid binges later.
If my friend had truly trained for the half marathon instead of using running sessions as snack time, an added 250 calories would be fuel for her 13.1-mile run. Balance out sugary snacks and drinks with training, and enjoy the best of both worlds!