15 "Healthy" Foods You Shouldn't Eat During a Pandemic
During this time that, well, just about everyone is staying inside, there's a chance you're feeling motivated to eat the healthiest foods you can. After all, you're not able to go out and head to the gym and for some, even going on a leisurely walk is temporarily out of the question. So while you're stuck at home, you want to be able to at least make healthy food choices. But there are just some seemingly healthy foods you're better off not even touching.
Here, we rounded up the so-called healthy foods you shouldn't eat while you're home during a pandemic, as they don't provide you with valuable nutrients, and can even lead to weight gain—something you surely don't want to happen.
Whole Wheat Bread
Bread is obviously one food that makes sense to stock up on during a time like this, and there's a chance you're grabbing the whole wheat bread. It must be healthier, right? Well, unfortunately, many loaves are actually packed with high fructose corn syrup and molasses, serving up unnecessary sugars, and have ingredients lists that are miles long filled with ingredients you most likely don't recognize. Be sure to avoid any bread marketed as "honey whole wheat" to avoid those added sugars and instead choose a sprouted bread such as Ezekiel.
Low-Fat Peanut Butter
It's no secret we're big peanut butter fans here, and it is a health food full of heart-healthy monounsaturated fats and muscle-building protein. But you want to make sure you're buying the right peanut butter. See, popular processed peanut butters often have added sugar and unhealthy oils and those low-fat peanut butters aren't any better. They too have tons of added sugars to make up for the fat. Always go for the jars of natural peanut butter.
Veggie chips are a great way to get your vegetable serving during a time when fresh veggies are harder to come by, right? Not so fast! These veggie chips aren't going to increase your fiber and antioxidant intake quite like the real stuff, as they often contain veggie powders, which lack the same nutritional value as actual vegetables, along with being high in sodium content.
Granola isn't healthy all the time, either. Some granola brands not only use processed oils, but they're packed with sugar, thanks to the dried fruit and chocolate chips you'll find mixed in. Plus, a cup of the stuff can clock in with a high amount of calories and fat.
Whipping up a bowl of oatmeal is a solid way to start your day, if you're doing it right. Choosing instant, flavored oatmeal might save you time and seem like you're making a healthy choice, but you're just eating a ton of sugar. Just one packet of Quaker Maple and Brown Sugar Oatmeal has 12 grams of sugar in it—no thanks! Instead of sugary oatmeal, try making any of these healthy overnight oats recipes for weight loss!
Shelf-stable milks might seem like a better choice than the dairy variety right now, but those favorite flavored soy milks might just be worse for you. Soy milk is often heavily sweetened, as a cup of Silk brand's chocolate soy milk has 15 grams of sugar, with 14 grams being—you guessed it—those dreaded added sugars.
Egg substitutes are mostly egg whites, but eating the whole egg is actually much better for you, overall. Egg yolks contain tons of vitamins, including vitamin D, which an American Journal of Clinical Nutrition study has linked to lower rates of obesity and reduced abdominal fat. And when you're spending more time inside not moving your body around as much, you're going to want to do all you can to stay on track with your health goals.
During a time when you're stocking up on canned foods, you might grab some beans, as they are generally healthy for you. But the same can't be said of baked beans. A half cup of Bush's Original Baked Beans has 150 calories and packs 560 milligrams of sodium and 12 grams of sugar—that's more sugar than in one Reese's Peanut Butter Cup.
Fruit is obviously a great addition to any diet, but now, you might not have as much access to fresh fruit. Fruit cocktail isn't the alternative you should be having instead, though. Typically, they are as long as you're not soaking it in syrup, which means, yes, more sugar. Take Del Monte's 100 calorie fruit cocktail for example clocks—it has 21 grams of sugar in one can.
Rice cakes are truly a weight loss staple that will last in your pantry for a while. But they are known for being high on the glycemic index (GI). So why is this a bad thing? Well, high GI foods might give you a rush of energy, but a few hours, later, you'll be hungry again, craving more food. Not ideal for when you're living the quarantine life!
Low-Fat Salad Dressing
Again, don't let the low-fat label fool you into thinking this is a "healthy" food to stock up on. Low-fat salad dressings often have plenty of adding sugar, high fructose corn syrup, salt, and additives and preservatives, things you're going to want to avoid consuming while you're home, trying to eat the best you can.
A bottled smoothie might seem like an easy way to get your daily fruit and veggie fix, but those bottled smoothies are doing is just adding serious sugar and calories to your diet. For a better deal, blend up your favorite frozen fruits and whip up your own smoothies.
Dried fruit makes for a quick snack or a tasty addition to your oatmeal or cereal that lasts for quite a long time, making it an ideal food to have on hand during this time of a pandemic. But you might want to second-think munching on them as (this really shouldn't be a surprise) they're really just adding tons of sugar to your diet. You're going to find that most commercially-prepared dried fruits are coated with added sugar and are preserved using sulfites, one of the most common food allergens.
Noticing a bit of a trend here—just because it has "vegetable" in the name, doesn't mean it's actually all that great for you. The problem with vegetable oil is that partially hydrogenated vegetable oil can raise bad cholesterol and increase your risk for heart disease. And you don't want to be doing that during this time!
The probiotics in yogurt are what makes it a gut-friendly food. So yogurt is great to have in your fridge, as long as it's not the flavored versions that have high amounts of sugar. Some will cost you 20 grams or more per serving! Instead, go for plain Greek yogurt.