Halloween candy is a spooktacularly sugar-laden treat most kids (and some adults) indulge in once a year. But imagine if you found yourself gobbling down mouthfuls of Halloween candy for breakfast, lunch, and dinner every day. Scary, right? Well, the truth is, some of the “healthy” foods you buy every day are really no better than those once-a-year Halloween treats!
Before you take another bite, consider what’s lurking in these 14 foods with creepy concoctions that just might scare the health out of you:
Like a crafty Halloween costume, some granola really isn’t what it appears to be. Strip away all the healthy-looking packaging and what’s left in most bowls of granola are simply piles of sugar (about 25 grams per cup!). Keep it simple: Eat a bowl of oatmeal instead (the kind made from oats and water, not added processed ingredients). Go ahead and add some fresh berries or maple syrup to sweeten the meal.
2) Specialty Sushi Rolls
Think there’s nothing fishy happening inside your 6-piece combo? You’d better think twice. Some sushi rolls sneak in calorie no-nos like mayo or cream cheese and even deep-fried veggies (hello, tempura), which can turn your calorie-light dinner into a boatful of bloat. Instead, opt for nutrient-rich veggie rolls with brown rice or protein-packed sashimi.
Whole wheat? Baked? Lightly seasoned? Never mind what the package says, these crunchy critters don’t add a whole lot of nutritional value to your plate. Why not top your salad with sunflower seeds or heart-healthy walnuts for a crunch that packs a healthy punch?
4) Stevia with Additives
Finally, a sweetener you don’t have to fear. Over 200 times sweeter than sugar, stevia is a calorie-free alternative to artificial sweetener that’s derived from a natural source — the stevia plant. But beware, choose your brand carefully. Look for 100% stevia with no added dextrose (a tricky little name for sugar), maltodextrin, or other unnatural ingredients. These unwelcome visitors come with baggage of their own.
5) Veggie Patties
They may be meat-free, but frozen veggie patties are often high in texture-producing fillers and actually quite low in said veggies. Still like your packaged patties? Then check the ingredients to make sure the greens come first and the ingredient list is minimal.
6) Trail Mix
Like a cauldron of calories teeming with trans fat, refined carbs, and simple sugars, a bag of trail mix loaded with chocolate chips, yogurt-covered raisins, and yes, even candy, can lead you down the path to instant weight gain. Turn your trail mix into a DIY project with your own healthy concoctions of nuts, dried fruit, and dark chocolate.
7) Green Juice
That green juice you’re guzzling may be worse for you than you think. Loaded with calories, carbs, and most of all, sugar, many green “health” drinks have more sugar than a stack of donuts. Take the healthy route and create your own green drink with fresh fruits and vegetables or buy bottled juices with vegetables only — and no sugar.
8) Rice Cakes
Crunchy, yes. Healthy, no. Even though they’re light and airy, rice cakes offer no nutritional value, lack fiber, and can be high in carbs. They also can be high in sodium. So, skip this carb-heavy creature and snack on healthier options like raw almonds or fruit.
9) Spinach Pasta
Although it seems healthier, pasta made with spinach is more goblin than good. There’s actually very little spinach in it, but it can trick you into eating a heartier helping because it’s “healthy.” A better option? Go for whole wheat pasta with spinach leaves added or get yourself a spiralizer and make zucchini zoodles!
10) Enhanced Waters
Vitamins, protein, and fiber. (Oh my.) It’s a wonder your water is still water after all those “enhancements.” The truth is, the vitamins added to enhanced waters are just a drop in the bucket of your daily requirements. And the other ingredients are mostly sugars and artificial flavorings. Plain H2O is still your best bet. Want a hint of flavor? Infuse your water with lemon, lime, or berries.
11) Protein Bars
With horror movies, it’s better not to look. But when it comes to your protein bar, it’s always best to see what’s lurking beneath the wrapper. Be diligent. Check the ingredients. If it’s loaded with fillers and other artificial ingredients, lay it to rest. If you’re in a pinch, find a bar that’s under 200 calories or has fewer than 8 grams of sugar.
12) Bran Muffins
If the fiber in bran muffins is “the good,” then the fat and sugar are definitely “the bad” and “the ugly.” Oversized bran muffins often pack in more than 350 calories each, mostly from sugar and fat. Instead, check out these recipes for breakfast muffins with a healthy twist. (//greatist.com/eat/healthy-muffin-recipes)
13) Balsamic Vinaigrette Dressing
Although you’ve deftly avoided creamy dressings for years, you may have fallen prey to balsamic vinaigrette’s treacherously tangy trap. Most commercial vinaigrette dressings include additives like caramel coloring, thickening agents, and sugar that can turn your crisp, healthy salad into a calorie-raising catastrophe. To remedy this, simply make your own dressing. Extra-virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar usually does the trick — and that’s a real treat.
14) Multigrain Bread
Don’t assume your innocent-looking loaf is healthy because it says “multigrain” or “wheat.” Look a little further (aka the ingredient list) and you’ll nab the culprit — refined grains. Not only do breads with refined grains lack fiber, they can also make your blood sugar spike. Dig for products that contain “whole wheat” or “whole oats” and list them as the first ingredients.