Be Aware of Foods That Have That “Health Halo”

Eating Mindfully Part 2

Junk food disguised as healthy snacks is more common than we think. Between sugar-free, gluten-free, low-carb, low-fat, organic, all-natural, and more, there’s an overwhelming amount of terms that you see on food labels.  The confusion around reading these labels makes it easy to mistake something for “healthy”.

Here are just a few examples of “health halo” foods to avoid (hint: these are all processed foods):

  1. Flavored yogurt – Packed with protein and gut healthy probiotics, yogurt is an excellent weight loss food. But don’t be fooled by flavored yogurt, it is loaded with sugary fruit. Opt instead for 0 fat or 2% fat plain yogurt and mix in your own whole fruits.
  2. Veggie Chips – The “healthy” alternative to chips are just another processed food. Their bag might display photos of whole veggies, but these chips are actually pulverized vegetable flour mixed with oil and salt.
  3. Fruit smoothies – Replacing meals with protein shakes may help you reduce your daily calories, which can help you lose weight. Eventually you will need to start eating solid food again, which may cause excess weight to return if you don’t choose wisely. And if you rely too heavily on protein shakes to replace regular meals, you’ll miss out on the nutritional benefits of whole foods. As a general rule, it’s better to eat, not drink your fruits. Pair your fruit with a cup of low-fat plain cottage cheese or yogurt if you are craving something creamy.

The moral of this story is to READ THE LABELS. Take your time in the grocery store and really read the labels. Learn the synonyms for added sugars and fats. One of my rules of thumb is “if you can’t pronounce it, it is not a real food”. Also, note the serving sizees. The calories, fat, sugar, etc. shown are for the serving size, not the entire package or can. If you are a WW member, couple this with utilizing the scanner on your app to check the points. Many “light” foods will be deceivingly high in points.

Easy, veggie forward meal prep today. Even though the calendar is inching towards spring, it is still going to be cold and rainy in LA this coming week. Bring on the soup! I created an Asian veggie soup using unsalted chicken broth, seasoned with coconut aminos (my favorite is from Trader Joe’s), garlic, ginger (the frozen Dorot cubes), dry mustard, coriander, and cumin, salt & pepper. This is my own mix of seasonings. Use what you like. I used every veggie I could think of that rang as Asian to me: fresh bok choy, mushrooms, snow peas, scallions. I also added celery because I had it in my house, and a handful of frozen edamame that I had in the freezer. I would call this a Green Asian Veggie Soup if I was a recipe writer :).

Pairing my Green Asian Veggie Soup with chicken breast that I marinated in coconut aminos, garlic, ginger, mustard, coriander, and cumin then oven roasted, and roasted broccoli and red bell pepper.

This has been a hard week for all of us. I did not go out and “panic buy” supplies and shelf stable food. I did, however, cancel all of my social plans for the weekend, even my hair appointment. I did shop at Trader Joe’s today so I could complete my meal prep. I was greeted at the door by a lovely, smiling woman holding hand sanitizer, offering squirts. Thankfully, the store was stocked fairly well, and the vibe inside was comfortable. As I checked out, I was again offered a squirt of hand sanitizer, which I again accepted. Stay calm, stay well, and wash your hands.

A few shots from my walk today. I am lucky to live just a few blocks from Santa Monica Bay. It was quite crowded there this afternoon. Seemed a perfect place to be outside, in public, while still remaining “socially distant”. At least I got some exercise, and got in some great people watching.

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