Foods Masquerading As “Healthy”

There’s a guy I see at the gym sometimes with a big gallon jug full of apple juice. He drinks it while he works out. I am so fascinated by this. I really want to know WHY he does this but I don’t want to engage in conversation with him about it, you know? I am so curious about this. How many calories is he consuming in one workout with that apple juice? I need to go to the grocery store and see how many calories are in a gallon jug of juice.

Foods Masquerading As “Healthy”

These are goods that the commercials, ads and packaging claim to be “healthy” for us. I’ve definitely fallen into that trap. I didn’t really know HOW to eat or what to eat to be healthy in the beginning. I didn’t have help either, I just muddled my way through it and figured things out on my own.

I realized I was eating a lot of junk food. Especially the “diet” junk food. Processed food was making me feel sick. I realized the hard way that I needed to stop eating “diet” food I thought  was healthy and eat real food instead.

Granola/Granola Bars – Granola is something I thought was healthy when I first started out. A good snack, I thought, was a Yoplait yogurt with granola mixed in. I bought granola in bulk from a natural health food store (sort of like Whole Foods) in Portland. Of course I never used just one serving, either. When I started counting calories I was shocked at how high granola was in calories. I realized I was eating a super sugar yogurt with granola that was over 200 calories–my “healthy” snack was probably 400 calories. Yikes!

Breakfast Bars – Oh my gosh! These are the WORST. They are high in sugar, high in calories, high in carbs with absolutely NO nutritional value. It’s just manufactured junk food masquerading as “breakfast.” Eggs! Eggs! Eggs! They are the perfect food.

Vitamin Water/Gatorade – This is another one I see at the gym a lot. Personally, I prefer water. It taste better than a bunch of sugar water. I see people at the gym doing this and I wonder why they’d waste the calories they burned at the gym by sucking down liquid calories. Gatorade was developed for athletes and did amazing things for their performance and recovery. It does improve performance.  For high level athletes.  It’s for endurance sports–prolonged, competitive activities. For example, Gatorade is great for someone training for a marathon. Someone walking on a treadmill? I’m not so sure it’s needed.

Trail Mix/Dried Fruits – Dried fruit is higher in sugar than fresh fruit (they add sugar to them!). Higher in calories than fresh fruit. Trail mix is a big culprit in packing on the pounds. Did you know a typical serving size of trail mix is about a Tablespoon? If you’re like me, I don’t eat just a tablespoon of trailmix–I eat a handful. Just wagering a guess that could be 400 calories!

Yogurt – I’m talking about the sugary yogurts–the ones that taste like candy? The ones the that are high in calories and sugar and not high in anything good. A few years ago I discovered Greek yogurt and I have never looked back. I won’t eat anything else. And my palate has changed even more, I prefer the plain Greek yogurt instead. It’s much healthier, higher in protein, lower in sugar and I can add fresh fruit to my yogurt instead.

Frozen Yogurt – Sure frozen yogurt may be a healthier choice than ice cream. But….if you’re adding five extra servings of toppings onto the frozen yogurt you’re defeating the purpose. Butterfingers? Snickers? Cookie dough? Coconut? Chocolate sauce? Shoulda just had the ice cream!

Cereal – When I wrote A is for Abstinence several people mentioned that cereal was their trigger food. I can understand this–especially since the cereal I like is the super sugary ones (Frosted Flakes, Frosted Mini Wheats to name a few). The problem with cereal is that it doesn’t have the filling nutrients in them to keep us full for very long. Whenever I eat cereal I’m hungrier than before.

Bagels – I love bagels. I used to eat them all the time. I loved the big, thick bagels with cheese baked into them, slathered with full-fat cream cheese. A-maz-ing. But, those lovely treats are about 600 calories. My poor waistline. Now? I eat the bagel thins when I’m craving a bagel. 110 calories toasted with cream cheese tastes just as great as those other ones I used to eat!

QUESTION: Do you agree or disagree? What did I leave off this list?

Author: Lisa Eirene

About Lisa Eirene Lisa lost 110 pounds through calorie counting and exercise. She swims, bikes, runs, hikes and is enjoying life in Portland, Oregon. Her weight loss story has been featured in First Magazine, Yahoo Health, Woman's Day and

16 thoughts on “Foods Masquerading As “Healthy””

  1. I totally agree with what you said. Fake diet.foods are not food at all! The amount of chemicals they contain are staggeringly high. Real food is best in moderation! Thank you for posting this!

  2. UGH when I first decided to “get healthy” I definitely leaned towards yogurt and cereal and figured granola + trail mix = GREAT snacks!! Only after I started adding up the points did I take a step back and realize that I was getting more sugar from these than I was when I was eating my “unhealthy” foods.

    Now I try to satisfy my random bits of hunger without crunchy granola but, instead, I go for fruits, nearly-fat-free popcorn/kettle corn, and, if I need something sweet, I like fat-free jello or those dessert gums (just to occupy my mouth).

    That being said, I fully grab hold of frozen yogurt any time I’m near a spot. I recognize it’s not healthy, but I also recognize it’s more delicious than what else I might be eating 99% of the time.
    Jordan @ food, sweat, and beers recently posted..Halloween Recipe and a Flavor Blasted Burger

    1. I recently experienced the “frozen yogurt” thing and it was great! Creamy and delicious. Of course I went nuts with the toppings and added probably 300 calories to my yogurt… 😛

      ALL of processed foods have a ton of sugar in them. Which I learned the hard way when I started to actually read the ingredients list and pay attention. It’s a hard habit to break too. I don’t deny myself things but I just eat them less often.

      Now I want kettlecorn…

  3. I agree with you on a lot of these. For me, though, I need to not have any foods that are off limits. It’s a mental thing. I’m like that spoiled little brat kid that only wants what you tell her she can’t have!

    So, I make adjustments. I measure out the cereal and homemade granola that I love so much and add to my Greek yogurt. I choose to eat full-fat or whole versions of foods because I like their taste and their ingredients better than their “low-fat” varieties. I do find that my hunger is satiated longer when I eat real foods – whether they are healthy or not! So, I disagree that things like granola which might be high in calories are inherently “junk” food but I agree that a whole food is much better than a gimmicky diet alternative food.

    I do love a bottle of G2 Gatorade after a long run. It might be mental, but I’ll use 45 calories for it.
    Lydia recently posted..Elsewhere…

    1. I don’t have any “off limits” foods. I just choose not to eat these things much anymore because of the reasons I said. I drink G2 after workouts in the summer time–or on long bike rides. It does work great for that!

      Thanks for your comment. 🙂

  4. I couldn’t agree more. It is amazing how easy it is to pack in unnecessary calories by being mislead that you are actually making a healthy choice. All the items you listed advertise themselves as the healthy alternative, yet, in the long run they end up being as much or more calories than the unhealthy choice you substituted them for.

    It took awhile for me to learn to stop trying to eat things labeled or advertised as the healthy choice and to actually look at what was on the labels and from that STOP buying food with labels. Less processed more homemade. 🙂 I make my own granola now, a 1/4 cup is a serving, and yeah it’s still not uber healthy but I know whats in it!

    The best way I found to avoid these unhealthy healthy choices is to just shop the perimeter of the store and avoid all those center aisles altogether.

    I love greek yogurt too! It is amazing to me now, after having a bite of a friends sugary yogurt, how much better greek yogurt tastes. Honestly the sugary stuff is just way to sweet and the “plastic” tasting. Having a 1/2 cup of nonfat plain greek yogurt with some fruit and my homemade granola is just so much better tasting and super filling. Honestly, that combination is so filling sometimes it is my lunch!

    I also love your take on Gatorade and sports drinks. At the end of a triathlon I drink a gatorade and it does give me a boost and help me feel less drained. Yet, there is no reason for me to need it after an hour spin class or a 5k run. I just havent ran through enough stored energy to require something like that. A banana, an apple or celery with a tablespoon of peanut butter (if I have really worked hard) are just way better choices.

    Ember recently posted..Running Clinic – Weeks 10,11 and the Zombie 5k!!!

    1. I hate to admit this but it was Michael that changed my thinking about “diet foods” and processed foods. I was so into “low calorie” and diet foods I thought it was healthy. I’d eat those 100 calorie snack packs and cookies as treats and feel 100% unsatisfied but it was low in calories. Michael NAGGED me endlessly about the junk I was eating. He told me to stop eating it. He said “that shit is giving you cancer.” Probably. So many chemicals and junk in out food…

      For years he told me to stop eating processed foods and when I finally did I noticed immediately the change. It was astounding. Suddenly the REAL FOOD I was eating satisfied me. I felt satisfied. I mindlessly munched on junk LESS. It really does make a difference. Now? I rarely want to snack on things like crackers…if it comes out of a box I’m less interested.

      I’m glad you agree on the yogurt thing! I thought that would be a “hot topic” for people because so many people think yogurt is healthy. Yes, it’s healthy IF you are eating the right kind. Lesson learned.

      Thanks for commenting Ember! Looking forward to Saturday. 🙂

  5. I definitely agree with this. Yes you can lose weight eating 1300 calories a day of these Frankenfoods, but at least I would never feel satisfied. Eating real food though, I do feel like 1300-1500 is plenty while I am in weight loss mode.

    I don’t get the apple juice thing at all! If I am going to drink my calories make it a Ninkasi Total Domination or Deschutes Jubelale please!

    Agree on the yogurt. Fage 2% plain is my yogurt of choice, I can’t even stomach Yoplait and the like anymore.
    Cheryle recently posted..What I did on my Facebook vacation

    1. I like that–Frankenfoods. That’s totally what it is. Foods now are “injected” with things to make them bigger, with more flavor (ie sugar). It’s all weird stuff.

      I’m with you on the Ninkasi! If I’m going to drink my calories I want something good like wine. 🙂 Or Tricerahops!

  6. I agree with most of these, although not all dried fruit has added sugar! (Like if I dry my own.) But the concentration of calories from the drying process makes them be very calorie intensive, which can ruin a calorie level in a hurry! Great post, and something that everyone trying to lose weight should read!
    Diane Fit to the Finish recently posted..How to Stop Eating for Comfort

    1. I really wanted to start drying my own food but saw how much work it actually was and decided not to. 🙂 But yes, if we make our own it’s probably much healthier! In any situation!

      I’m glad you liked the post. 🙂

  7. Oh, wow, there are a ton of calories in a gallon of apple juice! When there was the news story about low levels of arsenic being found in apple juice, there was an article saying that kids shouldn’t really be drinking it anyway — at least not as a regular, staple beverage. I agree with most of your “foods” except I eat granola and trail mix by the pound–so I try not to buy it!
    Coco recently posted..My Midwest Adventures

  8. I have to disagree with the gatorade comment. I am newly getting into working out and sometimes if I work out too hard I need the sugar and electrolytes to bring me back up. That being said I don’t drink a whole gatorade in a session I only drink it as needed. I drink water when I am thirsty and a sip of gatorade if I get dizzy. I might be “too” cautious but I have almost passed out about 3 times now. It gets scary real quick.

    1. It’s definitely beneficial for people with medical issues! And I’ve used Gatorade when I was running in the summer time because I’d get dehydrated and dizzy and almost passed out a few times too. It was scary. My doc said it was electrolytes. So when I run in the summer I mix a half and half of gatorade and water in my bottles.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge