Healthy Foods? Not So Much

So you thought you were eating healthy.  Whole-grain toast for breakfast.   Salad for lunch.  Fat free cookies for dessert at dinner.

Hold the phone.

Did you know many breads and cereals are made with refined whole grains?  Here's how to know if the bread you're buying is nutrious.  If the label reads “bleached” or “unbleached enriched wheat flour," it's refined grain.  So what? This processing strips the grain of its full nutritional benefit, according to Sheryl Kraft at yahoo.com.  She suggests that, instead,you look for a label that offers “100% whole-grain.” This gives you the germ, endosperm and bran — a nutritional powerhouse, she writes.

Now, to salads.  Salads are great of course -- full of green things for great fiber.  But don't forget all the stuff you put in them (did you know Burger King's dressings have more fat and calories than a Whopper Jr.?).   Cheese (like me), tuna or chicken salad loaded with mayo mixed in with the greens, bacon bits, croutons -- all make the salad worthwhile. But they can add inches to your waist, and fat to your arteries.  And you thought you were eating so well?

On to fat-free anything. I've actually learned that fat-free yogurt is much worse for you than nonfat. That's because they ramp up the sugar to make up for the fat.  And, as Kraft notes, fat free” can often translate to “taste free.” If the fat — which gives a food its texture and taste — is removed, something has to be added to make up for it, and that something is usually extra sugar, flour, thickeners and salt. These ingredients may help to boost the taste, but they also boost the calorie count. 

The worst part?  A lack of fat in foods can make you eat more.  Because, without fat, you're not satisfied, so you keep on going.  I remember Snackwells, the first fat-free cookies and how many of us ate handfuls and handfuls because we thought they were low in calories. Wrong.

Next is trail mix.  Oh, how I love that!  But most are full of "sugar-coated fruit, salted nuts, bits of add-ins like coconut and chocolate, pushing a formerly-healthy snack into dangerous calorie-laden territory," says Kraft.  Make your own.

Finally, there's muffins.  Ah.  Muffins.  I remember when I thought I was having a low-cal breakfast, munching on a huge corn muffin, only to find out years later some have more fat than a steak.  And it's not the good kind.  

So, can't eat any of these foods?  Of course not.  As in everything, moderation is key.  And if you have to eat it?  Do what I do.  Sneak off to a closet.

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