Experts say it takes 21 days to kick a bad habit. That’s why Beyonce and Jay Z recently embarked on a 22-day vegan challenge. Jay Z posted on his blog that this was a “spiritual and physical cleanse.”
With February upon us, and that certain chocolate lovers’ holiday recently passed, some of us may have already been tempted to ditch our New Year’s resolutions. But don’t quit now! It’s time to re-set those goals to get the results you want. Even Beyonce is having a second go by starting another 22-day vegan challenge. We can help you get back on track by finding out which “healthy” foods were fooling you and may not be so healthy after all.
10 No. 10 – Yogurt
When it comes to this delectable dish, it’s all about reading the labels. There’s tons of choices out there, so grabbing without reading could lead to bad results. For example, you could pick up vanilla-flavored Mediterranean Greek yogurt which has 9% fat and double the sugar and carbs of other Greek yogurt varieties.
So where do you start? Start by picking up a plain, low-fat Greek yogurt. This creamier option can have a third more protein than the same serving of regular yogurt. That means you’ll feel fuller longer.
Next, check for fat content – anything that is low-fat with less than 2% is ideal. You want to pick one that is plain or lightly sweetened with honey to avoid the extra sugar. If you have organic honey at home, you may want to add it yourself. Dr. Oz confirms: “I get the low-fat Greek kind that contains no added sugar.”
Fat, calories and carbs aren’t the only thing to keep an eye on though. You can find Greek yogurts that are low sodium, heart healthy alternatives, containing as little as 50 milligrams in a serving. That’s half most regular brands. And another added benefit to snacking on Greek yogurt? It’s heavily strained meaning it cuts down on some of the lactose and makes it easier to digest for those who are lactose intolerant. General Mills had $150 million in sales of their newest Greek yogurt product; so clearly, it's a popular snack to grab!
9 No. 9 – Muffins
A McDonald’s muffin has 410 calories and 15 grams of fat. Tons of people reach for this for breakfast daily. But did you know that that a McDonald’s cheeseburger has only 300 calories and 12 grams of fat. That’s right, the muffin is worse than the cheeseburger.
We know breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and that you shouldn’t skip it. However eating more than a third of your daily recommended allowance of fat at breakfast with this carb-filled choice doesn’t seem very wise. Making your own low-fat, low-sugar, whole grain variety is best. But most of us don’t have time to bake a batch of muffins. Try reaching for a healthier option that only adds a few minutes to your morning, like a hard-boiled egg.
8 No. 8 – Microwave Popcorn
While it may smell delicious, it’s toxic! Oprah's O Magazine shared how microwave popcorn contains tons of chemicals found in the butter, the glue and the bag itself. While admittedly long-term testing isn’t complete, the chemicals used have been linked to infertility and cancer among other diseases. With over $1.7 billion spent on the stuff by Americans every year, we think it's best to save the money and make your own. It takes just five minutes to pop your own kernels in low-fat oil so we recommend doing that instead of reaching for this chemical-laden bag.
7 No. 7 – Trail Mix
One cup of trail mix can have up to 700 calories. That’s because although nuts are a good type of fats, they are still high in calories. Top that off with some dried fruit, chips or even chocolate, and add salt or some other salty spices, and you have a recipe for disaster. If you can manage to carefully calculate your portions, Livestrong notes, and reach for an unsalted version free of little extras, then this may be a good snack. But if you’re taking handfuls, it’d be best to find some other go-to come snack time.
6 No. 6 – Canned or Dried Fruit
When it comes to eating fruit, fresh is best. In February and you may be longing for peaches that aren’t in season, but instead of reaching for a can version, you’re better off sticking with a different fresh fruit. And in fact, American's spend $6.4 billion on the canned stuff every year. Canned fruit can come in syrup that can be loaded with empty calories.
Weight Watchers advises that you should “choose canned fruit packed in its own juice or in water instead” if you have to eat it. Also, the brand (that has celeb spokespersons Jessica Simpson and Jennifer Hudson) points out that vitamin C can be lost in the heat of canning while most canned fruits also have reduced fiber content because the fruit has been pealed.
The same goes for dried fruit – it lacks vitamin C though you can find more fiber in it. This may make dried fruit not sound so bad, and the truth is, it isn’t. Dried fruit has the same calories and sugar as fresh fruit. The problem is that the drying removes the water, which in turn leaves you with a tiny portion and so you may find yourself over eating. The trick here is to measure out your portions when eating dried fruit and reach for the fresh stuff if it’s an issue of mind over matter.
5 No. 5 – Granola Bars
Have you recently made granola bars your afternoon snack but not quite sure why you’re not seeing changes? Your snack just may be the culprit. Granola bars can be loaded with artificial sweeteners and sugars to keep it tasting good. That's probably why Americans spend $880 million on the stuff yearly.
Don’t be fooled by the calories either – it may only be 100-150 calories but it could be jam-packed with over 12 grams of sugar! And to top it off, some have as little as 1 gram of protein and fiber, which will leave your stomach grumbling quickly. Health conscious celeb, Gwyneth Paltrow, offers readers of her blog Goop, her own take on granola bars made from dried fruit and maple syrup instead.
4 No. 4 – Vitamin-Enhanced Water
Most vitamin waters contain as many calories as an equivalent serving of juice. They are loaded with artificial sweeteners and coloring too, Forbes explained. The longer they sit on the shelves or in a hot warehouse, the more likely it is for certain vitamins in the water to breakdown. When in doubt, reach for regular water and find your vitamins elsewhere. Need more of reason? Tons of celebs – from Kim Kardashian to Jennifer Lopez – claim that drinking water has improved their skin and physique!
3 No. 3 – Rice Cakes
Shape Magazine labelled rice cakes as a no-no food and it’s something a nutritionist would never eat. They explained that this light as air snack can have a glycemic index rating as high as 91. Pure glucose is 100 and Shape explains that this means your blood sugar is in for a “roller coaster ride”. There’s no nutrients or healthy benefits and you’d be better taking a bite of something low-cal like celery instead!
2 No. 2 – Diet Soda
While we doubt anyone would call diet soda healthy, there are many people out there who consider it a good option since its sugar free. In fact, according to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, kids drink diet soda at double the rate of last decade and adult consumption has jumped nearly 25%. Americans blow $70 billion on soda in one year alone.
Although it doesn’t directly pack on the pounds, the journal went on to explain how it wrecks havoc on your system. If the chemicals in it that could cause damage to kidneys and teeth weren’t enough, it also still makes you fatter. It’s chalked full of artificial sweeteners that mess up your body’s ability to gauge sweetness and therefore calories in food. The result? Overeating – your body has been fooled into thinking that’s what sugar tastes like, increasing your desire to eat more.
1 No. 1 – Juicing
You can’t go anywhere nowadays without hearing someone talk about juicing. It’s the latest in weight loss trends to emerge, with juicers (not blenders) that can cost upwards of $600. Juicers extract the juice from fruits and vegetables, leaving you with a raw drinkable liquid. It’s supposed to cleanse and detox your system – even Jillian Michaels, a Biggest Loser trainer, has a recipe for juicing.
There are some major drawbacks though. Most juicers leave behind skin – which is full of nutrients – and pulp – which is full of fiber. The Dr. Oz website reminds us: “your digestive system is designed to handle fiber and extract nutrients from a variety of foods.” Juicing shouldn’t be a substitute for eating fruits and veggies especially if you’re leaving out the best parts! Plus remember that although they taste good, don’t go overboard on fruits. You may end up exceeding your daily recommend allowance.