Foods labeled as "healthy", "organic", or "natural" can be misleading. Multiple foods deemed healthy are jam-packed with sugars, artificial flavors, and other additives that aren't necessarily beneficial to your health or your body. Take these foods for example -
1. Dried fruit. Dried fruit can contain almost 2-3 times the amount of sugar as the original fruit. This is due to the extra preservatives that are added in order to extend shelf life. If you have the option, whole fruits are the way to go.
2. Trail mix. Many trail mixes have M&Ms, peanut butter chips, and all the deliciousness that we ignore because trail mix is a healthy, snack? Well, this snack has added sugars and salt that make the snack extra flavorful and sometimes seemingly addicting. Now, I'd be lying if I said I don't eat the M&Ms first too, but that's not the point! Reach for the trail mixes that have raw un-salted nuts and dark chocolate for a hint of sweetness. If you're really feelin' crazy, create your own trail mix! My favorite mixture is almonds, walnuts, cashews, and dark chocolate. YUM!
3. Protein bars. Depending on the brand, some protein bars may be high in protein, but the sugar content is just as high, if not even higher! 20g of protein in one protein bar is great, sure, but what's not so great is finding out it also contains 25g of sugar, 20g of which are added and not natural. READ LABELS AND INGREDIENTS!
4. Wheat bread. Just because it says "wheat bread" on the package, doesn't mean it's healthy. Take a look at the ingredients. If you high fructose corn syrup, sugar, cornstarch, _____ coloring, or a bunch of words that you can't even pronounce are listed, perhaps rethink what bread you are purchasing. I've recently been buying 7 Sprouted Grains, which I'd highly recommend!
5. Juice. Unless you just freshly squeezed those oranges by hand or by a juicing machine, more than likely it's not 100% orange juice. Again, preservatives must be added to extend shelf life, and enhance flavor. Aim for juices that do not add sugar.
6. Smoothies. Often times when you purchase a smoothie, they use juice instead of other low sugar or low calorie options. If you are making a smoothie at home, I would recommend using fresh fruit and/or veggies, yogurt, and a splash of almond milk or cashew milk to add natural sweetness.
I'm not suggesting that you avoid all of these foods. I'm simply requesting that you be more aware of your meal and snack choices. Read the nutrition labels and review the ingredients before your next grocery haul.