Great romances - "Phantom of the Opera," "The Hunchback of Notre Dame," "Wuthering Heights" - prove you can't always tell what's inside by looking at the packaging. But who thought that was true for coleslaw or a million other packaged "healthy" foods that fill grocery-store shelves?
Often these so-called healthy foods have as many calories and more sodium and sugar than the standard versions. They can even block health-bestowing nutrients from getting into your body. Fat-free dressings are an example: They're lower in calories than dressings with heart-friendly canola or olive oil, but sometimes their ingredients prevent absorption of vitamins and minerals in fruits and vegetables.
Another common mistake: You want to avoid dairy, so you opt for a flavored vanilla or chocolate almond milk and end up with 15 to 20 grams of sugar in a cup - as much as ice cream. Or, to avoid emulsifiers and additives, you get a standard brand peanut butter's "natural" version, but it contains saturated-fat-laden, inflammation-causing palm oil. Rule No. 1: Read the labels!
One more "healthy food" trap to be aware of: You think because it's "healthy" you can eat more, more, more. You end up shoveling in extra calories and heart- and brain-damaging salt and sweeteners! Follow portion-size recommendations - even with lower calorie and healthy foods. Your plate (9-inch diameter is a good size) should be two-thirds whole grains and vegetables; one-third protein (lean, skinless poultry or fish such as salmon and ocean trout, legumes and nuts). Fruit makes a great dessert!