There are so many foods that claim and appear to be healthy. Yet these “smart choices” aren’t everything they claim. Here are the top 10 offenders that might be keeping you from shedding those pounds.

Danger lurks in the packaged mix in the form of excess sugar, oils, and preservatives.

Of course, nuts are packed with heart-healthy fats. Plain, natural mixes of unsalted nuts and unsweetened dried fruits can make for a good, high-energy snack.

The problem is, trail mixes have taken a few extra liberties in their ingredient lists. Many are now loaded with extra salty nuts, deep-fried banana crisps and chocolate. This transforms the so-called “healthy” snack into a calorie-heavy dessert. Since a small handful easily contains 300-plus calories, trail mix may not be the ideal snack option for those looking to lose weight.

So light and airy – rice crackers are the ultimate diet snack. Sure, they are low in calories but they are “empty” calories. If you look at the ingredient label, you’ll see a whole lot of nothing. There is no fat, no fiber, minimal vitamins and minerals and maybe 1 gram of protein. These are all important nutrients that improve satiety and help keep your mind off snacking.

The simple carbohydrates in organic rice cakes on the other hand, actually spike food cravings. Further, the new flavored varieties have the added downside of having sugar and salt in them. While fine as a treat in moderation, these aren’t really giving your body much nutrition.

Before you applaud yourself for choosing a salad over a burger, take a closer look at the ingredients. Salad toppings like croutons, nuts and salad dressings can quickly turn a healthy salad into a calorie bomb.

Mc Donald’s California Cobb Salad with Crispy Chicken and ranch dressing total a whopping 670 calories and 53 grams of fat! This is only 130 calories less than a Big Mac and small fries. So be sure to research calorie counts before you dine!

Granola seems harmless but is far from being a breakfast champion. No matter how you eat it – whether as cereal, in a bar or as part of your yogurt parfait – there is fat, sugar and calories lurking in granola. One cup contains up to 560 calories and 28 grams of fat – and that’s before you add milk!

Stick to portion sizes? Sure, but they are usually a skimpy ¼ cup, just enough as a topping on fruit or yogurt.

One of the biggest benefits of peanut butter is that it is a natural source of the “good” monounsaturated fats. When you take that out, what do you have left? Tons of sugar and the same amount of calories, but empty. Typically whenever you see reduced fat in any product, it means that the fat was replaced with sugar or salt.

FIND OUT THE TRUTH BEHIND FOOD LABELS

Stick to the real thing. But remember, two large spoonfuls can pack almost as many calories and fat as a Snickers bar! So enjoy it in moderation.

Smoothies can be real tricksters when it comes to staying on track. Just because they’re packed with whole fruits doesn’t automatically makes them a healthy option. You can easily fit in a meal’s worth of calories in a single smoothie without even realizing. The Starbucks – Strawberry Banana Smoothie contains 300 calories.

WHY EATING CLEAN IS NOT THE KEY TO WEIGHT LOSS

What’s more, research shows that is you take exactly the same energy as a liquid instead of a solid, you will consume more calories later because the liquefied energy doesn’t satisfy your appetite as well as the solid food.

Veggie chips must be healthy because they are made from veggies, right? Not so fast. Yes, veggie chips are made from real vegetables, but they aren’t much healthier than regular potato chips. Most of the time, veggie chips are just potatoes with veggie flavoring or puree.

Further, the essential vitamins such as A and C that are found in vegetables are lost in the processing of these chips; so they don’t offer much in the way of nutrition. Most of these chips are high in fat, calories and sodium. An ounce of veggie chips has 150 calories and 9 or 10 grams of fat per handful — the same as potato chips!

You are better off making your own veggie “chips” at home. Try chopping kale and toss it with a small amount of olive oil and sea salt, pop it in the oven and bake until crispy.

Dried apricots or raisins may seem like the perfect way to satisfy your sweet tooth. But the added sugar that condensed fruit contains can really up the calorie count. There are about 60 calories in a cup of grapes, and over 400 in a cup of raisins. Snack wisely!

Vegetables are great but let’s face it, they don’t taste that great on their own. That’s why many of us use dressings to add more flavor to our salads. Yes, salad dressing. You never suspected a thing, did you?

Many commercial salad dressings are made with a myriad of preservatives, fake flavors, colors, fats, salts and sugars. Further, most people tend to ignore their salad dressings reported serving size, which is usually only two tablespoons! So be careful what and how much you’re drizzling on top of your greens.

Praise the marketing geniuses who managed to sell foods that contain more sugar and calories than certain candy bars as “healthy”. Clif’ss White Chocolate Macadamia Nut bar, for example, has more calories (26) than a Snickers bar. Many energy bars are filled with high fructose corn syrup, added sugar, and artery-clogging saturated fat.

The Food and Drug Administration has recently asked the makers of KIND bars to remove the word “healthy” on some of their products. The KIND Fruit & Nut Almond & Coconut bar, for instance, contains 5g of saturated fat per 40g ( definitely exceeds the 1g of saturated fat per 40g of food restriction). So if you need a snack, you’re much better off having an apple and a handful of almonds instead!

THE MOST POWERFUL TOOL FOR NUTRITION IS KNOWLEDGE OF WHAT YOU’RE EATING

What food surprised you the most? Do you know any other foods that don’t deserve their “healthy” label? Tell us about it below!

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Smart Snacking

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Between school, homework, sports, your after-school job, and hanging out with friends, it may feel like there’s no time for healthy eating. And when you do stop to eat, it’s probably tempting to go the quick and easy route by grabbing a burger and fries, potato chips, or candy.

But it is possible to treat yourself to a healthy snack. In fact, if you have a hectic schedule, it’s even more important to eat healthy foods that give you the fuel you need to keep going.

Even if you take time to eat three meals a day, you may still feel hungry at times. What’s the answer? Healthy snacks. Snacking on nutritious food can keep your energy level high and your mind alert without taking up a lot of your time.

Why Healthy Snacking Is Good for You

You may have noticed that you feel hungry a lot. This is natural — during adolescence, the body needs more nutrients to grow as it should. Snacks are a terrific way to satisfy that hunger and get all the vitamins and nutrients your body needs.

But you need to pay attention to what you eat. Stuffing your face with a large order of fries after class may give you a temporary boost, but a snack this high in fat and calories will only slow you down in the long run.

To keep energy levels going — and avoid weight gain — steer clear of foods with lots of added sugars like candy bars or soda. Look for foods that contain fiber like whole-grain breads, cereals, fruit, and vegetables and combine them with protein-rich snacks such as peanut butter or low-fat yogurt or cheese.

Judging Whether Snacks Are Healthy

Choosing healthy snacks means shopping smart. Be cautious of the health claims on food packages. Here are some things to watch out for:

  • Just because something is “all natural” or “pure” doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s nutritious. For example, “all natural” juice drinks or sodas can be filled with sugar (which is, after all, a natural ingredient) but all that sugar means they’ll be high in calories and give you little nutrition.
    A granola bar is a good example of a snack that seems healthy. Although granola bars can be a good source of certain vitamins and nutrients, many also contain a great deal of fat, including a particularly harmful type of fat called trans fat. And there can be a lot of sugar in granola cereals and bars. Check the Nutrition Facts label on the package to be sure.
  • Be skeptical of low-fat food claims, too. If the fat has been eliminated or cut back, the amount of sugar in the food might have increased to keep that food tasting good. Many low-fat foods have nearly as many calories as their full-fat versions.

Whatever claims a food’s manufacturer writes on the front of the package, you can judge whether a food is healthy for you by reading the ingredients and the nutrition information on the food label.

Smart Snacking Strategies

Here are some ways to make healthy snacking part of your everyday routine:

  • Prepare healthy snacks in advance. Did you know that you can make your own granola or trail mix? When you make something yourself, you get to control the ingredients and put in what’s good for you! You also can keep plenty of fresh fruit and veggies at home to take on the go. Cut up melons or vegetables like celery and carrots in advance. Keep the servings in bags in the fridge, ready to grab and go.
  • Keep healthy snacks with you. Make it a habit to stash some fruit, whole-grain crackers, or baby carrots in your backpack or workout bag so you always have some healthy food nearby.
  • Make it interesting. Healthy snacking doesn’t have to be boring as long as you give yourself a variety of choices. Whole-wheat pretzels with spicy mustard, rice cakes with peanut butter and raisins, or low-fat fruit yogurt are healthy, tasty, and easy.
  • Satisfy cravings with healthier approaches. If you’re crazy for chocolate, try a hot chocolate drink instead of a chocolate bar. An 8-ounce mug of hot chocolate has only 140 calories and 3 grams of fat. The average chocolate bar, on the other hand, has 230 calories and 13 grams of fat. Substitute nonfat frozen yogurt or sorbet for ice cream. If you’re craving savory munchies, snack on baked tortilla chips instead of regular corn chips and pair them with salsa instead of sour cream. Or satisfy salt cravings with pretzels instead of chips.
  • Read serving size information. What looks like a small package of cookies can contain 2 or more servings — which means double or even triple the amounts of fat, calories, and sugar shown on the label.

Don’t slip up after dinner. Evenings can be a tempting time to indulge in sugary, fatty snacks. If you’re really feeling hungry, don’t ignore it. Instead, pick the right snacks to fill the hunger gap. Whole-wheat fig bars, rice cakes, or air-popped popcorn can do the trick, as can fruit paired with cheese or yogurt.

Treats to Try

Here are a few healthy snacking ideas:

  • Ants on a log: Spread peanut butter on celery sticks and top with raisins.
  • Banana ice: Peel several very ripe bananas, break them into 1-inch pieces, and freeze the pieces in a sealed plastic bag. Just before serving, whirl the pieces in the blender with a small amount of water or juice. Serve right away. Add berries for a different flavor or top with fruit or nuts.
  • Healthy ice pops: Freeze fresh, unsweetened 100% juice in ice pop molds or ice cube trays.
  • Whole-grain pita and hummus: Warm a pita in the oven on low, then cut it into small triangles. Dip it in a tasty, low-fat hummus. Hummus is available in yummy flavors like garlic and spicy red pepper. Hummus also makes a tasty dip for cut–up veggies.
  • Happy trails mix: Combine 1 cup whole-grain toasted oat cereal with ¼ cup chopped walnuts and ¼ cup dried cranberries for a healthy trail mix.

As with everything, moderation is the key to smart snacking. People who eat regular meals and healthy snacks are less likely to overeat and gain weight than people who skip meals or go for long periods without eating and then scarf down a large order of fries.

It’s natural to feel hungrier at certain times — like between a long afternoon of classes and your swim meet. Knowing how much food your body needs to satisfy this hunger is critical. A handful of walnuts is great brain food before sitting down to do that math homework. But a whole bag won’t help you add anything — except pounds!

Reviewed by: Mary L. Gavin, MD Date reviewed: September 2015

How to Make Beans from Scratch + a Vegetarian Challenge

Here are the 10 best items at Whole Foods Market that are affordable, versatile and best of all healthy. This post also shares what to buy and what to skip!

I feel like there are a million posts out there that talk about what to buy at places like Trader Joes and Aldi, but what if you’re like me and don’t actually shop at those places? That’s where the idea of this post came from.

I’m a Whole Foods shopper through and through. I actually never go into Trader Joes because here in NYC it’s an absolute nightmare. Whole Foods also always carries the items I like, surprisingly has some affordable prices and the shopping experience (to me) is just so much more enjoyable.

The 10 Best Items at Whole Foods

So today I’m going to share the 10 best items to buy at Whole Foods. If you read my Staple Grocery List, you’ll recognize a lot of these items. What I love about them is that I can mix these ingredients lots of different ways (from morning smoothies to dinner) and they’re also affordable.

1. spinach/greens

If you’ve ever walked into a Whole Foods you probably know about the “greens wall”. That’s always where I start. I pick up a big tub of spinach for my smoothies and usually one or two types of other greens. And always (ALWAYS!) organic. These greens are also typically the Whole Foods 365 brand which means they’re on the more affordable side.

2. frozen fruit

You know I’m a BIG smoothie lover and the only place I really ever buy my frozen fruit is Whole Foods. There are a few reasons why their frozen fruit is so good:

  • they have a huge variety
  • there are lots of organic options
  • they’re affordable

I keep frozen fruit on rotation in my freezer. We’re always buying berries, but sometimes I’ll switch things up and pick up cherries, peaches, mango, pineapple. Just to keep things interesting and varied. These are 1000% one of the best items at Whole Foods!

3. frozen cauliflower

My other secret to the perfect smoothie? Frozen cauliflower. I know it sounds weird, but trust me it’s amazing! Frozen cauliflower not only adds fiber to your smoothie (making it more filling), but it also helps you get the most luxurious, creamy texture. The other benefit? You’ll find that you add less fruit, and therefore reducing the amount of sugar you’re using. And don’t worry, you can’t taste it at all!

Now the Whole Foods 365 one is the best. Why? Because it’s organic, but also pre-steamed. That means it’s easier on your digestive system and will create less bloat. So next time you’re there, you MUST pick some of this up!

4. beans

One of my favorite sources of plant-based protein is beans. And while I know that making them in your InstantPot is easy, I still buy canned beans to keep on hand when I’m short on time. The reason why the canned ones are one of the best items at Whole Foods is that they have a huge selection of organic, everything is in a BPA-free can and they’re only $.99!

5. nut butter

Nut butter is one of those things that I eat every single day. I don’t eat the same one every day, but I definitely have some type of nut butter whether it’s on my smoothie bowl, on a piece of toast or as a quick snack. But it can also be expensive. That’s why I like to pick up the Whole Foods 365. They have an organic version of the more common nut butter (peanut, almond, cashew, tahini) and they’re delicious! Just make sure that you check the labels before you buy – some of their nut butters are blended with palm oil.

6. organic bananas

You can’t go wrong with bananas! They’re one of the things I like to keep on hand for smoothies, baking, and late-night treats (No Bake Snickers Banana Bites anyone?!). I buy mine at Whole Foods because their organic variety is also fair trade and inexpensive. Bananas are a staple for a lot of people, so next time you’re there, pick some up!

7. tofu

Tofu for me is not necessarily a staple, but it is something I use fairly frequently in my diet. What I like about the tofu from Whole Foods is a) it’s price, but also it’s organic. I realized when I was shopping that their 365 brand (pictured above) isn’t non-GMO, so I have since switched to buying the other brands they carry. Either way though, they still have a ton of options to choose from!

8. almond milk

Another staple in our fridge is almond milk. I use almond milk a lot in my baking and Matt uses it in his smoothies. We go through a gallon at least once per week and I love that Whole Foods has such a wide variety. They have their own brand but also have pretty much every other brand on the market. So you have flavor options, you have brand options, you have ingredient options. It’s the best!

9. eggs

Eggs are on my best items at Whole Foods list because of the options. If you’re someone who wants to have the highest quality eggs possible, they have an option for you. If you’re not as particular about the type of eggs you buy, they have an option for you too. I know some people don’t think eggs are healthy, but I personally do and enjoy them as part of my diet. Whether it’s making my favorite Healthy Chocolate Chip Banana Bread or making some hard boiled ones to have for snacks. I just adore having eggs on hand at all times!

10. snacks

Is there anything better than the snack aisle at the grocery store? Arguably it could be the ice cream aisle, but snacks for me are king. Unfortunately, at most grocery stores, this aisle is wildly unhealthy. At Whole Foods though? It’s full of incredible snacks that are also made with good ingredients. Not to mention there are also exclusive items that can only be found at Whole Foods. Probably my most common go-tos are Simple Mills crackers, Siete Chips, Quinn pretzels, and crispy chickpea snacks.

What about you?

I’d love to know what some of your favorite Whole Foods items are! Drop a comment down below and let me know your favorite thing to buy!

A new year brings reflection, predictions, plans — and, hopefully, healthier shopping carts. (Well, at least until we notice all the Valentine’s Day candy lining the shelves.) And with every passing year, there are new food trends to try. (Remember when kale wasn’t even a thing?)

At the forefront of foodie trends is Whole Foods Market, with its annual list of food trend predictions for the year ahead. The list is curated by a culinary army of about 50 Whole Foods Market team members, according to a release, from buyers to product sourcing experts to local foragers. Translation: They’re the ones who said White Claw would be a thing long before your cousin insisted you try it over the holidays.

So whether your meal planning needs a reboot or you just want to be in the know about what you’ll be craving next, shop the food trends that are expected to be big in 2020.

‘Super’ flours

Reaching for gluten-free flours to avoid gluten isn’t the point anymore — it’s now about choosing flours that offer extra protein or fiber, regardless of whether you can tolerate gluten or not. And while we’re all familiar with almond flour, the new kids on the baking block are items like cauliflower flour, tiger nut flour and other alternative flours.

BakeGood Cauliflower Flour Blend, 2 pounds ($14.99; amazon.com)

You’re familiar with things like cauliflower pizza crust and cauliflower crackers, but now you can buy cauliflower flour in bulk to make your own nutritious versions.

Roots Tiger Nut Flatbread Pizza Crust Mix ($12.85; amazon.com)

Tiger nuts aren’t actually nuts, they’re ancient root vegetables. The really interesting thing about fiber-packed tiger nut flour is that tiger nuts are a “resistant starch”— meaning they slow down digestion, keeping you fuller for longer.

Refrigerated ‘fresh’ snacks

Foods that need to go in the fridge often mean less preservatives and additives, which is why, for many healthy eaters, the snack aisle isn’t in the middle of the grocery store — it’s the coolers on the perimeter. From bars to soups, prepared snacks in single-serve sizes are moving away from bagged carbs and becoming more like something healthy that Mom packed for you.

Nona Lim Heat & Sip Cups Variety Pack ($38.99; amazon.com)

Made from scratch in small batches and with fresh ingredients, these soups and bone broths are shipped frozen and come in a wide variety of flavors.

Perfect Bar Original Refrigerated Protein Bar in Peanut Butter (24 Bars) ($64.56; amazon.com)

With about 17 grams of protein (but no whey or soy), these gluten-free, organic, non-GMO bars have a cookie-dough-like texture that many health nuts rave about. They’ll need to be stored in the fridge but can last up to a week once you take one out.

Kid-friendly superfoods

According to Whole Foods, many of today’s parents are inclined to introduce their kids to more adventurous foods. (Fun fact: Whole Foods says that by 2026, 80% of millennials will have children.) The foodie spirit swings both ways, too — kids are seeing their peers on cooking competitions and are having cafeteria conversations of their own about what’s what.

GimMe Snacks Organic Roasted Seaweed in Sea Salt (Pack of 20) ($14.79; amazon.com)

If you’ve ever bought a single pack, you know how easy it is to inhale these super-thin and tasty pieces of seaweed. Kids are gobbling them up, too — which is a far better choice than many other chips or crackers they want.

Serenity Kids Baby Food, Wild-Caught Coho Salmon with Organic Butternut Squash and Beets (6-pack) ($23.95; amazon.com)

You could say it’s a bit pricey for baby food. Or you could say it’s a small price to pay to start ’em young toward being adventurous eaters.

Depolarizing the meat debate

Meat versus fake meat — can’t we all just get along? We will in 2020, says Whole Foods. While plant-based meatless “meat” products have skyrocketed over the years, “real” meat lovers can finally calm down and enjoy their animal products while getting a dose of vegetables, too. Technically dubbed “blended meat,” these are products with both meat and meatless ingredients in them. Look for items like Applegate’s The Great Organic Blended Burger (available to Prime members through Prime Now) and Lika Plus’s Blended Burger on your next grocery store run.

West African foods

Lesser-known superfoods and earthy flavors are becoming more popular—and many of them are traditionally West African foods and ingredients. Food brands are finding inspiration from West Africa by using ingredients like moringa, tamarind, fonio, teff, millet, sorghum and more.

Nature Nate’s Popped Sorghum, 5 Ounces ($8.99; amazon.com)

Sorghum has a nutritional profile that’s similar to quinoa (think fiber and protein). Here, it’s popped and flavored with avocado oil and sea salt—that’s it.

Yolélé Fonio African Super Grain, 2.25 Pounds ($22.99, amazon.com)

Another gluten-free West African grain to try is fonio, which is in the millet family and similar in texture to couscous.

Soy-free options

As more people identify soy as an allergen and not the answer to their dietary dreams, the king of the plant-based movement has been dethroned. Meat alternatives, condiments, protein powders and more are all employing replacement ingredients to maintain (and often improve) their texture, taste and nutritional profiles. See ya, soy.

Ocean’s Halo Organic Soy-Free Teriyaki Sauce, 2 Bottles ($15.99; amazon.com)

Level up your next stir-fry or chicken dish with this teriyaki sauce that’s also gluten-free.

Zero-proof drinks

Whether you’re “sober curious” or want to imbibe all night and not feel the hurt tomorrow, this trend comes in two forms: There are the alcohol-inspired-but-non-alcoholic beverages you can drink straight from the can or bottle, and then there are the products meant to be used in place of alcohol and with a mixer. The latter is newer to the scene, thanks to beverage makers using distilling methods usually reserved for alcohol. The result: Gin and tonics without the gin, martinis without the vodka and more.

Ritual Gin Alternative ($25; amazon.com)

Made with spices and distilled flavors like juniper, angelica root and lemongrass, this zero-proof gin is ideal when you want to feel a bit of that burn you usually get from alcohol.

Hoplark HopTea Mixed Pack, 12 16-Ounce Cans ($39; amazon.com)

This sparkling tea is usually about $2.50 per can at Whole Foods, and you can order a variety case online — or one specific flavor if you find one you love. Some have caffeine, some don’t, but they all have a bold dose of hops to recreate the taste you’re craving.

Superfood butters and spreads

Going beyond almond butter isn’t new — but that just means there’s even more expectation to get creative with spreads and butters. Whether your spread of choice is made of watermelon seeds or pili nuts, this trend is coupled with the higher standard of using only responsibly sourced palm oil or eliminating the ingredient’s use altogether.

FBOMB Nut Butter 10-Pack in Salted Chocolate Macadamia ($24.99; amazon.com)

These 1-ounce packets are packed with healthy fats and only 2 grams of sugar, making them a delicious snack to throw in your tote or gym bag for when you need a tasty and nutritious treat.

88 Acres Roasted Watermelon Seed Butter, 2 14-Ounce Jars ($26.99; amazon.com)

The subtle roasted flavor adds a nice twist to your morning oatmeal or smoothie. (Psst! This same brand also makes dark chocolate sunflower seed butter. Just sayin’.)

Not-so-simple sugars

Syrups made from fruit sources or even starches are the latest way to add sweetness to everything from cookies to coffee to meat glazes. They’re usually more concentrated and offer an alternative to refined sugar in dishes and drinks.

D’vash Organic Sweet Potato Nectar, 16.6 Ounces ($12.99; amazon.com)

If you like the deep flavor of molasses or honey, this nectar is worth a try, drizzled over pancakes or used to marinate chicken.

Swerve Sweetener Bakers Bundle, Granular and Confectioners, 2 12-Ounce Packages ($14.99; amazon.com)

With nearly 2,000 ratings averaging 5 stars, this nonglycemic sugar replacement reportedly doesn’t have the aftertaste of other sugar alternatives. It’s also a one-for-one substitute for sugar, making it an extra-easy replacement.

‘Regenerative agriculture’

Choosing brands that work with farmers and other partners that prioritize regenerative practices is one way to help the environment. Regenerative agriculture can mean a few things, but it typically refers to managing levels of carbon by improving biodiversity and restoring soil. Whole Foods items from companies currently using regenerative agricultural practices include White Oak Pastures grassfed ground beef, Zack’s Mighty Tortilla Chips and Cowgirl Creamery Mt. Tam cheese.

Note: The prices above reflect the retailer’s listed prices at the time of publication.

Puffed Quinoa

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Personalized health review for Everyday Value Veggie Straws: calories, nutrition grade (C minus), problematic I found them at whole foods. No rating. A new item, our Everyday Value® Organic Toasted Coconut Chips are Gluten Free, Vegan, Fair Trade and Whole Trade Guarantee. Dusted with cocoa, the. Everyday Value Veggie Straws, 6 oz. $ (as of February 15, , pm). Brought to you by Whole Foods Market 30% less fat than regular potato.

The Daily Crave Veggie Sticks Everyday Value Veggie Chips. If you’re a fan of potato chips, this Whole Foods brand is a good pick. But deep within the mecca of natural and organic foods, some Whole Foods Two-Bite Cinnamon Rolls. Save Veggie Straws. Save. Everyday Value, Veggie Straws, 6 Oun May 1, | Amazon | 0 | Brought to you by Whole Foods Market 30% less fat than regular potato chips.

The So-Called Health Foods to Avoid When Shopping at Whole Foods

Stepping into a Whole Foods can be an eye-opening experience. From the produce aisle to the deli, it’s impossible to make an unhealthy decision, right? Wrong. We hate to break it to you, but just because it’s sold at Whole Foods doesn’t mean it’s good for you.

Up ahead, we share the top so-called ‘health foods’ to avoid while grocery shopping at Whole Foods.

Veggie straws

If you don’t pay attention to portions, you can munch your way through the entire bag. | Sensibleportions.com

Whole Foods has a stellar snack section. That said, it’s not entirely healthy. In fact, many of the chip alternatives aren’t good for you at all. Case in point: veggie straws. While they may claim to be made with real vegetables, they should never count towards your daily serving. And at the end of the day, they’re really just chips and are more of an indulgence than a snack.

Organic dressings and sauces

These salad dressings will add tons of extra calories to your healthy salad. | VeselovaElena/iStock/Getty Images

Just because an item says organic, doesn’t mean it’s healthy. When shopping for organic dressings and sauces at Whole Foods, pay close attention to the ingredients and nutrition facts. Many are still super high in saturated fats and sugar.

Naked Juice Smoothies

Is this a green juice or a dessert? | Naked Juice

While we love Whole Foods for their grab-and-go drink section, not every drink in their lineup is considered healthy. Case in point: Naked Juice Smoothies. While they claim to have no added sugar, they still house a shocking amount. You’re better off having a smoothie made at their juice counter.

Annie’s products

This popcorn isn’t as healthy as you’d think. | Annie’s

Annie’s products get a lot of attention for being a healthier option for packaged and canned goods like ravioli, macaroni and cheese, and so on. That said, just because they’re a healthier option, doesn’t mean they’re the best option. Many items from Annie’s lineup are high in sodium and sugar.

Dried fruit

A handful of these are just as bad as junk food. | iStock.com

If you want to avoid a spike in sugar levels, you may want to steer clear of dried fruit at Whole Foods (or, any other health food store). Dried fruit is extremely high in sugar and should be treated more like candy than fruit. Instead, head over to the produce aisle and pick up some antioxidant-rich berries.

‘Healthy’ baked goods

Don’t let the smell of fresh baked goods draw you in. | Wutlufaipy/iStock/Getty Images

Another food item that houses the illusion of healthy at Whole Foods? Their bakery items. These items are no different than the items sold at a regular grocery store bakery. Step away.

Back to Nature cookies

Watch out for these cookies — they can easily throw off your healthy day. | Back To Nature

Speaking of sweets, Back to Nature makes some of our favorite crackers and cookies in healthier forms. And while they’re made of more real ingredients (especially compared to Oreos and other highly processed cookies), they’re still high in sugar and not the best for you.

Check out The Cheat Sheet on Facebook!

If you’re like me, you’ll do just about anything you can to get your kids to eat healthfully (well, anything short of force-feeding, that is). As a nutritionist, my clients are shocked when they learn the horrifying truth behind their favorite so-called “health” foods, especially when it comes to products they buy for their kids. Be sure to steer clear of these seven faux “health” foods that are wreaking havoc on your kids’ nutrition.

t

1. Veggie straws

t Despite the name, there’s very little “veggie” about these straws. The pulverized potato and corn starches that mainly compose these snack straws leave you with virtually no fiber or protein (which you should expect from a vegetable, especially a potato). What you do get: a whopping 60 calories (7 grams) of fat per serving derived from the oil these babies are fried in. Believe it or not, Lay’s Baked Potato Chips have more nutritional merit than these impostors. Check out my complete crackdown on just how bad veggie straws are for you and your kids.

2. MLM “vitamins”

t There are a few multi-level marketing companies out there hawking a variety of pricey supplements to parents of veggie-phobic kids. The ugly truth: Several of these companies provide no “supplement facts” panels whatsoever on their products (“Supplement facts” are different from “nutrition facts” in that they show content for nutrients like iron, zinc, calcium, etc.). One look at the “nutrition facts” panels shows that many of these are little more than glorified sugar pills.

t One note: Juice Plus+ is pretty transparent about the fact their products are not vitamins; one look at their “nutrition facts” panel shows it’s mostly a vitamin C supplement.

t Be mindful about any “whole foods” claims from any product nearly devoid of fiber (as many of these are). Any product that has fiber before processing and doesn’t have it when it comes out isn’t really a whole food anymore.

3. Fruit chips

t Check it out: A Whole Foods package of banana chips contains 130 calories (14 grams) of fat per serving (which is only 1/3 of a cup)! Whaaaa? Many “dried” fruits are not dried but fried, jacking up the fat content. Real dried (dehydrated) fruit will not have that kind of fat content, so make sure to look at the labels.

4. Annie’s Cheddar Bunnies

t Aww, Cheddar Bunnies. They are so cute and non-GMO. They’ve got to be better for our kids than the regular stuff! Wrong. Annie’s Organic Baked Cheddar Bunnies have more fat, less fiber and fewer vitamins than traditional Goldfish crackers.

5. Welch’s Fruit Snacks

t “We put the fruit in fruit snacks!” No, no you don’t. These snacks have absolutely no fiber (which fruit should be a great source of). What they should say is “We put the sugary fruit juice (and supplemental vitamin C) in fruit snacks.”

t Speaking of supplements, these have more vitamin C than some of those “vitamins” we just chatted about… more sugar, but they are a heck of a lot cheaper.

6. Pirate’s Booty

t They’re baked! Gluten free! No trans fat! No artificial flavors or preservatives!

t No nutrition.

t Ever wonder why your kids are hungry again about 20 minutes after eating a bag of this stuff? I’m going to bang the “no fiber” drum one more time. Fiber helps us to feel full, especially in combination with water. The fact that these contain 45 calories from fat (5 grams) but no fiber and and negligible protein means you’re going to be looking for another snack before you can say “arrr.” Instead, offer snacks with a good balance of fat, fiber and protein to keep them full until mealtime.

7. Kid-branded yogurts

t Many parents are mindful of sugar content when choosing a breakfast cereal. But what about those tiny little cups/pouches/tubes of yogurt? One serving of Stonyfield Yo Kids Low Fat Organic Blueberry Blitz Yogurt has 14 grams of sugar. That’s more than the amount of sugar in one serving of Froot Loops (12 grams) or Trix (10 grams).

The Truth About Rice Cakes

During the low-fat, high carbohydrate craze of the late 1980’s and 1990’s, rice cakes quickly became one of the ultimate diet foods. So we bought them in bulk thinking that, if we swapped our cookies and crackers for 70 calorie rice cakes, we’d lose weight and look great.

They may be low in calories, about 35 a pop, but when eaten alone they can actually sabotage weight loss. If you look at the Nutrition Facts Label on a package of rice cakes, you’ll see a whole lot of nothing. No fat, no fiber, minimal vitamins and minerals, and maybe 1 gram of protein–all important nutrients that nourish your body, improve satiety and actually keep your mind off of snacking.

The truth about rice cakes is this. Rice cakes are little more than refined carbohydrates (which are quickly digested and converted into sugar) that have been sprinkled with salt, and possibly sprayed with some artificial flavoring. Their glycemic index, an indicator of how a food affects blood sugar, ranks pretty high at 82 compared to pure sugar which tops out at 100. Instead of taking your mind off of food, snacking on rice cakes on an empty stomach can induce a spike in blood sugar that might just leave you feeling sluggish and craving, you got it, more rice cakes.

Instead of reaching for those rice cakes the next time hunger strikes, try choosing a nourishing snack with healthy fats, protein and fiber. Here are five quick and easy ideas:

  • A whole grain wrap with peanut butter and sliced banana
  • Greek yogurt sprinkled with granola and berries
  • Hummus with veggies and a serving of pita chips for dipping
  • A 1-ounce (28g) serving of almonds and a small piece of fruit
  • 100% whole grain toast with topped with a sliced hard boiled egg, avocado and a sprinkle of salt & pepper

And if you can’t entirely let go of rice cakes quite yet, fear not. Buy the plain variety and flavor them yourself with something nourishing, like a tablespoon of almond butter and fresh peach slices!

Popped rice crisps healthy

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