As all of you know, I’ve tried to make this summer my fittest summer yet—in both diet and exercise—and I have to say, I feel better than ever. From dropping 16 pounds in two weeks, to staying in shape with quick calorie-burning exercises, maintaining a healthy lifestyle isn’t just a walk in the park (although a walk in the park would probably help). It has been so rewarding, but just because I feel great and energized doesn’t mean that I don’t get pesky cravings creeping in every once in a while. And the hardest part of maintaining a healthy lifestyle, in my opinion, is mistaking foods as “healthy” when they actually could be sabotaging your diet. So, I called upon my friend nutritionist Kelly Leveque of Be Well By Kelly to give us the low-down on what to stay away from if you’re really committed to eating healthy. Here’s what she had to say…
Media proclaimed and celebrity sponsored “health foods” are not always good for you. It’s important to understand the nutritional benefit of these health foods to ensure that you know exactly what you are putting into your body especially if you are trying to maintain or lose weight. Always check the ingredients label for sugar (always aim for 5 grams or less) and carbohydrate content, to determine how they will effect your blood sugar, hormones, energy and cravings. So without further ado, here are 6 unsuspecting foods that could sabotage your healthy diet…
Ever wonder why some people think eating breakfast makes them hungrier and fatter than skipping it entirely? Sometimes it can! Before you grab a juice or smoothie at your local juice shop, think twice—or better yet, build your own! Chances are your store-bought favorite is loaded with excessive sugars. Sugar-loaded beverages like juice, high-glycemic smoothies and acai bowls can send your blood sugar on a rollercoaster and leave you full of insulin—which is the “storage hormone,” and can prevent your fat cells from breaking down. Continually eating foods high in sugar (even natural sugars!) can result in insulin resistance, and ultimately begin a slippery slope in sabotaging your diet. But before you freak out, know that you can enjoy acai, smoothies and juice by incorporating just a few tips: Ensure you have protein, fat and fiber at each meal or snack. If you are craving an acai bowl, make a Be Well Smoothie Bowl using 1-2 tbsp freeze-dried acai. You get all the antioxidants without the sugar, and if the base smoothie is fruit-free, layer your smoothie bowl with a ¼ cup of fresh berries, seeds and nuts. Or, choose a fruit-free green juice, add 1-2 tbsp chia seeds, 1 tbsp MCT oil and shake it up. You get the refreshing green juice with fat, fiber and protein to keep away the glucose spike and ensure your snack is substantial, not a sugar bomb.
Kombucha, a fermented tea full of probiotic bacteria, has recently become very popular and available at most grocery stores in fun flavors like mango. However, many of us do not realize that on its own, kombucha is not a proper meal replacement or snack and not for everyday use. Kombucha Tea is fermented once with a cup of granulated sugar and then a second time with more than a cup of fruit juice; the end product contains trace amounts of alcohol, candida yeast, sugar and acetlyhyde. Studies also show 20% more sugar remains in Kombucha than is accounted for on certain labels, and the National Center for Biotechnical Information found some teas tested positive for candida yeast and heavy metals like lead and fluoride. If drinking Kombucha leaves you feeling buzzed, anxious, or makes you crave carbohydrates 2-3 hours later, it’s not a great morning or midday option. Instead, choose to eat something with protein, fat and fiber like a hard-boiled egg, nuts or veggie crudité with a fatty dip. If you are still craving this refreshing effervescent drink (I get it!), enjoy it with your evening meal or when you are craving an adult beverage midweek. It’s a great replacement for booze on Thirsty Thursday.
Foods high on the glycemic index like bread, pasta and dried fruit can lead to insulin resistance, and cause you to overeat and gain weight. The same roller coaster that you experience when you drink sweet drinks can happen with sugar rich foods like white breads, cookies and cakes. Did you know the Low Fat Blueberry Muffin at Starbucks has 98 grams of carbohydrates, 57 grams of sugar and only 1 gram of fiber? Eating these foods can cause huge surges in insulin to last 6-8 hours in your blood stream, leading to cravings, weight gain and hormonal hunger. Start replacing these foods with low glycemic alternatives like high fiber flax wraps, coconut wraps and zoodles or limit these High GI foods to one meal a week.
Refined and processed sugar? Limit it or avoid it. Agave, honey, dates and maple syrup are all common sweeteners found in smoothies, juices, marinades, granolas and dressings. If you’re craving sweet, add half a cup of fresh fruit or a few drops of stevia to your smoothie, dressings and marinades. Another trick to curb your sweet tooth is to add a tablespoon of coconut oil to your smoothie; it is easily absorbed by the body and converted to energy without the blood sugar spike. Craving chocolate? Try my coconut oil sugar free freezer fudge to quench that sweet tooth with MCTs.
Industrial seed oils such as corn, cottonseed, soybean oil, safflower and sunflower oil oxidize easily and are almost exclusively omega 6, which causes inflammation and elevated cortisol levels. Chronic inflammation can lead to weight gain, an inability to lose weight and stress on the body. You will find these common oils in dressings, hummus and dips. The best way to keep the omega 3 to 6 balance in your body is to lower the amount of seed oils in your diet and aim to have omega 3 rich fish, like salmon, in your diet a few days a week. Ever wonder why your stomach may hurt after eating fast food or out at a restaurant? More often than not, restaurants use seed oils or hydrogenated oils (trans fats) to cook their food, which leaves you bloated, fatigued and inflamed. A good general rule is to avoid fried foods and check food labels. If you are looking to make lightly pan fried chicken or fish, opt for high smoke point oils like refined coconut oil, avocado oil or algae oil.
It has been so educating to talk to Kelly about these diet tips, and I for one, can’t wait to see the difference it makes in really committing to my healthy diet. What do you think, will you be incorporating these tips into your lifestyle?
Photos: Be Well By Kelly