13 07 healthytreats snacks food summer

These supposedly light snacks may be wreaking havoc on your diet.

I’m not a certified dietitian, but when it comes to knowing the ins and outs of healthy foods, diets, or supplements, I’m a reliable source. As a former personal trainer, I’ve spent years working in the natural health food industry, and taken numerous courses and attended seminars where I learned from top experts in nutrition, fitness, and wellness. 

I’m often asked how I keep a lean physique without counting calories, doing juice cleanses or cutting out food groups. What’s my secret? It’s easy: I read food labels. I get to the bottom of what’s inside - before I decide to put it inside of me.  

Avoid these five so-called healthy treats if you want to put your best body forward.

1. Frozen coffee blender drinks

I know what you’re thinking – ‘surely the ‘light’ ones must be okay, right?’ Not so fast. A Starbucks Frappuccino Light Blended Coffee (Grande size) might contain less than 150 calories, but with its 23 grams of sugar, this beverage should be avoided at all costs. Sugar is basically your body’s worst enemy. It doesn’t go anywhere but into your fat cells to be used later. Trouble is, most of us carry enough fat for fuel, so the Frappuccino just adds excess where excess isn’t needed.

Safe option: Make your own frozen coffee using espresso, low-fat milk, vanilla protein powder (sweetened with stevia) and ice.   

2. Egg white breakfast sandwiches

Surprised? Don’t be. For example, the McDonalds Egg White Delight features egg whites, Canadian bacon and white cheese on an English muffin. Although it’s low in calories and fat – there is a whopping 800 mg of sodium! Salt is a serious bloater. It puffs up our face, hands and stomach and should definitely be avoided pre-beach vacation. If that’s not scary enough, check out this sandwich’s frightening list of ingredients – including high fructose corn syrup.

Safe option: Opt for toast with peanut butter instead.

3. Greek yogurt parfaits

Sadly, there’s nothing remotely healthy about sugary fruit and sugary granola on top of sugary yogurt claiming to be Greek. Case in-point: Au Bon Pain’s Greek Vanilla Yogurt and Wild Blueberry Parfait. Just one serving has 340 calories, 34 grams of sugar (!) and 51 grams of carbs.  So NOT a guilt-free treat.

Safe option: Make your own using no-sugar added Greek yogurt, a handful of fresh, organic berries, a sprinkling of stevia or xylitol, and dash of cinnamon. Top with unsweetened granola or oats for some crunch. 

4. Vitamin infused waters, including reduced calorie flavours

Avoiding flavoured waters with sugar is a no-brainer.  But the 0 and 10 calorie ones too? Yes.  And here’s why: Many contain sucralose, crystalline fructose and Erythritol.  These are artificial and/or sugar alcohols –not unlike their sweeter cousin, Aspartame. These sweeteners are linked to a number of issues, including headaches, diarrhea and weight gain.

Safe option: Add a splash of pomegranate or coconut water to some flat or sparkling water and finish with some stevia, honey or xylitol. Or brew a ton of green tea, throw it over ice with a bit of honey, and sip guiltlessly-away.

5. Rice or corn popped chips, crackers, etc.

It seems there’s a new cracker, chip or rice cake every time I venture into the grocery store. And while many are low in fat and calories, the ingredients that come with are far from healthy. Take Pop Chips for example. Corn flour meets yeast extract (a.k.a MSG) meets added sodium, seasonings and sugar.  Add them up and you get a high glycemic snack that jacks-up your taste buds and leaves you feeling ‘ick’ after. 

Safe option: Try a sliced organic apple with organic peanut or almond butter. 

Do you have a so-called ‘healthy treat’ you want to divulge? Share your comments below!