Eating a clean diet paired with exercise is the key formula for reaching optimal health. Living a healthy lifestyle, not only positively impacts an individual’s physical wellbeing, but their mental wellbeing, as well. It is okay to splurge once in a while, and give into a sweet craving, but foods that are packed with sugar should be consumed sparingly if at all. Today I want to highlight three foods that are considered healthy but can be packed with a sugar. These three foods can be high in sugar or artificial sweeteners, but there are healthy alternatives and options for them.
Pre-Made Smoothies – These delicious drinks are an obvious sugar source since they are generally made with fruit, but natural fruit sugars are not an issue. It’s the white sugar, corn syrup, artificial sweeteners and other additives that give it sweet flavor that is the problem. Some individuals guzzle down pre-made or smoothie shop smoothies daily, without understanding the true nutritional facts or what is really in the ingredients. For example: Some smoothie shops use frozen fruit that has been sweetened with sugar or they add things like vanilla frozen yogurt to your smoothie. Smoothies that are packed with extra sugar can be as unhealthy for an individual as eating a cheeseburger and fries in terms of calories and added chemicals. Another thing used to sweeten smoothies is commercial juice which is used as a base, and some will even use syrups to make the smoothie taste sweeter. In order to make a healthy smoothie, you should focus on fresh fruits, fresh veggies, unsweetened greek yogurt, healthy protein powder and fresh ingredients. Instead of using juice as a base, opt for filtered water. You can also add things like honey, stevia or agave in moderation for added natural sweetness if you choose.
Instant Oatmeal – These convenient packages can be filled with sugar in order to help with taste. When choosing instant oatmeal, look at the packaging and see the amount of sugar used. Some of the numbers may scare you. Opt for instant oatmeal with no added sugar and sweeten it yourself during preparation. Look out for those brands that claim to be low sugar but use artificial, diet sweeteners. A delicious recipe is to melt a banana and natural peanut butter into non-instant oatmeal, creating a healthy sweet meal. You can also use other fruits, honey, etc.
Microwavable Meals – From a healthy diet friendly to pure junk food, these meals take up a majority of the freezer section at your local grocery store. The nutritional numbers on the back of these freezer meals, from healthy to downright terrible for you. Even the diet-friendly meals have large amounts of sugar (and an abundance of sodium, but we are talking sugar right now). For example:
- Healthy Choice Sweet & Sour Chicken – 29 grams of sugar
- Kashi Sweet and Sour Chicken – 25 grams of sugar
- Healthy Choice Sweet & Tangy Chicken BBQ – 29 grams of sugar
- Lean Cuisine Beef Chow Fun – 18 grams of sugar
One reason, sweet sauces used to improve the taste. Consuming a large amount of this kind of meal can be detrimental to one’s health and waistline. Before snatching that quick meal, take time to read the package. If the meal is high in sugar and sodium, look for a better option, or choose to make a salad instead (Add some chicken for protein if you like, but skip the sweet dressings). Salad ingredients can be just as affordable and effortless to throw together as popping a meal in the microwave.
There are plenty of other foods out there that pack a large amount of sugar. For an individual to take charge of their health, they must educate themselves on healthy nutritional numbers to follow as well as always take the time to check the food’s nutrition label. Individuals who do not educate themselves on the nutrition of the foods they consume have a higher chance of gaining weight and running into weight-related health issues in the future.