Making healthy choices on a daily basis can be a difficult task, especially when you’re always on the go. So, we compiled a list of about sixteen foods that we find ourselves reaching for on the go and did some research. We asked Dr. Baldasare, our co-owner and author of The Great American Food Fight, what he thought about our choices and he gave us some amazing insight. Here’s what Dr. Baldasare said about the eight foods that ranked the worst on our list:
1. Protein/Energy Bars
Protein bars and energy bars seem to be a no-brainer when it comes to eating healthy on the go. The truth is, most of these bars have more in common with your favorite candy bar than they do with the “healthy” ingredients they claim to contain. Most protein bars are high in sugar, contain sugar alcohols, and can be surprisingly high in calories.
2. Flavored Yogurt
Not all yogurt is created equal. The worst yogurt choice of all is that sweet, colorful yogurt that we all grew up eating, and that you may still be feeding your kids! The primary reason that we suggest avoiding this type of yogurt that it may contain as much sugar as a cinnamon roll. And if 18 grams of sugar isn’t enough to sway your decision, you might want to consider that the top manufacturer of sweetened yogurt still uses dye made from bugs to create that cute pink color. While that’s not necessarily unhealthy, it’s certainly gross.
3. Dried Fruit
Dried fruit can be a nutritious alternative to typical snack foods when you’re on the go, but it has its drawbacks. The ingredients in fresh fruit get condensed when they’re dried, which means that the sugar content and calories are condensed, too. While it may seem silly to eat five bananas at once, it’s easy to do the same when they’re dried, so you may not realize how much you’re really consuming. And while most of the nutrients stay put during the process, essential nutrients like Vitamin C can get lost in the process.
4. Fruit Smoothies
Here’s another food that hides behind the “healthy” label. While smoothies can be a delicious, healthy treat when made at home with the right ingredients, the ones you’ll find at major chains while you’re on the go are loaded with sugar. And when we say loaded, we mean it. One 16oz fruit smoothie from a popular chain can have between 30 and 50 grams of sugar. And that’s according to their website.
Granola seems to fall into the “healthy” category because it’s often associated with healthy activities like hiking or camping. And while this high-calorie, high-protein, high-fat food can be a good option if you are hiking the Appalachian Trail, it’s not such a great option for your day-to-day commute. Combine all of that with 12 to 25 grams of sugar, and you have a recipe for disaster.
6. Salad Dressings
Salads are an excellent choice when you’re on the go, but skip the salad dressing. Most dressings offer no nutritional value and are high in fat and sodium. Many labels we checked contained 15 to 20 grams of fat, and between 250 and 350 grams of sodium. Some sugar-free versions even included a California Prop 65 warning that some of the ingredients (likely the artificial sweeteners) are known to cause cancer.
Healthy salad hack: ask to skip the dressing and order a lemon wedge and a bit of sea salt for your salad instead. This delicious combination will be just enough to make your lettuce taste like an actual salad and you’ll be making a much healthier choice. If that’s not enough, it’s okay to add a bit of olive or avocado oil as well.
7. Energy Drinks
Energy drinks may increase your energy level, but not in a healthy way. Most energy drinks contain between 80 and 200 milligrams of caffeine and up to 50 grams of sugar. So, yes, you’ll be bouncing off the walls for a few hours and then you’re going to be in for a really serious sugar crash.
If you need an extra boost, opt for some unsweetened green tea or a great B Vitamin supplement like our B Activ instead.
8. Sauces and Condiments
Just like salad dressings, most condiments offer little to no nutritional value and are loaded with sugar, fat, and sodium. Try some alternatives like citrus, healthy oils, and fresh herbs. If you know you’ll be on the go, it may be worth prepping these items ahead of time.
We hope you’ve enjoyed our list! Stay turned for part two when our 8 Best Healthy Foods to Eat on the Go article goes live next week!
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