Is Your Healthy Food Really Good For You?
The hidden costs of so-called healthy food
We all try to eat a little healthier when we take up running. Are your healthy eating promises really good for you?
Don’t make these common healthy-eating mistakes.
Fruit juice isn’t unhealthy as such, but it’s not the health food saviour you might think. Some fruit juices have added sugar, which is totally unnecessary. Pure fruit juice is healthy, but is very high in sugars (from fruit) and therefore carbohydrates. Think about it this way: how many pieces of fruit have gone into one glass of juice? How quickly will you drink that juice? And how much will it fill you up? Now consider eating the same amount of the whole fruit itself. Would you ever eat that much fruit in one sitting?
The solution: drink smaller amounts of juice, or water it down. Just be aware of how much fruit you are drinking.
Dried fruit and berries contain the health benefits of the original plumped up version, but the danger here lies in how easy it is to eat a calorie-packed handful. Just one small handful of mixed dried fruit is the equivalent of eating a massive bunch of grapes or bag or berries. And how often would you do that?
The solution: be aware of portion sizes, and measure out your dried fruit rather than grabbing handfuls from a larger bag.
Nuts & Seeds
All nuts and seeds are a healthy source of fats, fibre, and some protein. But they are so easy to overeat. You could easily eat 500 calories from nuts and seeds in just a few handfuls.
The solution: start by weighing out your nuts until you get a good feel for how few nuts are in a serving size.
Low Fat Yoghurts
Yoghurt is a great food for runners: high in protein, with calcium and other minerals. But low fat yoghurts are deceptive. Most of them are packed with sugar, thickeners, and fillers to make them taste better. You end up eating a product which is worse for you than the fat you are trying to avoid.
The solution: check food labels and avoid added sugar. Choose real Greek Yoghurt, Skyr, or Quark (not “greek style” yoghurt). The low fat versions of these are pure and healthy. Consider adding your own sweeteners and mix ins from honey, dark chocolate, or other healthier options.
Dressings, Sauces & Spreads
Salad dressings, pasta sauces, and spreads can be labelled low fat or healthier choices, but often contain significant amounts of sugar and trans fats.
The solution: check the label to know exactly what you are eating.
Olive oil, coconut oil, and other healthy oils can be very good for you. We all need essential fatty acids in our diet. But the common problem with oils is that it’s very easy to over consume them. Fats (solid or oils) are high in calories. And it’s easy to over-pour oils when you are cooking, or drizzling them over salads. Just one tablespoon olive oil contains around 120 calories, all of it from fat. That’s a significant amount of your daily intake.
The solution: don’t cut out healthy fats, but keep an eye on portion sizes, and measure rather than free-pouring and eye-balling amounts.