Your Top 5 Food Frenemies

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Health food is big business. After all, who doesn’t want to be healthier? If you stroll down any supermarket aisle you will now find a flood of health foods. It’s not just supermarkets either; plenty of restaurants have jumped on the health food bandwagon. So what’s the deal? Listed below are five fake friends – foods we often believe to be healthy, but may actually be hurting your healthy eating habits.

Sushi
That scrumptious food that heralds from Japan is surely healthy. I mean it’s made with fresh fish and vegetables. Yes true, but the amount is negligible when you consider how many carbs you’re consuming from all that white rice. And to be honest, the sushi in Japan looks remarkably different from your favorite tempura roll. A typical roll here in Cairo is the carb equivalent of 2-3 slices of white bread. Also, if you order anything with a sauce on top or tempura inside you’re looking at more than 300 calories.
Tip: Hand rolls (the cone shaped ones) and nigiri (fresh fish on a small clump of rice) tend to have less rice than cut rolls, however, your best bet is skip the rice altogether and go hardcore by hitting up the sashimi. Alternatively, you could opt for the softer teriyaki, seafood salad or slurp down some miso soup. To research a bit more, have a look at our sushi breakdown (hyperlink Sushi Breakdown article).

Yogurt Parfait
With upwards of 400 calories, one of these can do more dietary damage than a ‘do not touch when dieting’ donut or croissant. Some parfaits contain 53 grams of sugar – the equivalent of about six lollipops.
Tip: Skip the parfait and go for low fat natural yogurt with some low glycemic index fruit (apple of berries), and a handful of oats. You can sweeten with just a drizzle of honey and you’ve cut a whopping 45grams of sugar.

Fat Free Salad Dressing
The problem with foods that are ‘fat free’ is when you take out ingredients you have to add something else to make up for the missing flavor and texture. In this case it tends to be sugar and chemical fillers. Actually, you may want that little bit of fat to max out the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins from your vegetables.
Tip: If dining out, add a drizzle of olive oil and a dash of vinegar. At home, make your dressing with two teaspoon of olive oil, two teaspoons of Dijon mustard, one tablespoon of balsamic vinegar and a squeeze of lemon.

Cereal Bars
They contain spoonfuls of sugar and an extensive list of unpronounceable ingredients. These bars have become increasingly popular as we crave nutritious foods that are convenient – don’t believe the hype! I’m not fond of naming names, so I wont – but a popular granola bar sold all over Egypt contains: 230 calories, 11 grams of fat, 150 milligrams of sodium and 11 grams of sugar. Now there’s food for thought.
Tip: It all about healthier substitutes. If you are eating granola bars instead of a chocolate bar then ok, they are marginally better than some processed chocolate bars, but as a daily snack it’s perhaps better to snack on a handful of raw nuts and an apple. Or you can simply cut out the processed additives by making your own granola at home to experiment with!

Anything Made with Soy
Vegetarians and vegans eat soy to meet their protein requirements. Additionally, soy is supposedly low in fat and an alternative to whey for the lactose intolerant. So why does it make the list? Well, soy is thought to be linked to increased estrogen in males and increased breast cancer in women. The estrogenic effects are sometimes said to merely be the presence of the phytoestrogens and estrogen mimicking compounds found in soy. Because of these estrogenic compounds, infants in particular can be adversely affected in many negative ways from exposure to soy, including premature development in girls, and underdevelopment in boys. Soy also promotes hypothyroidism (thyroid cancer) and infertility, just to name a few. Phytic acid, trypsin inhibitors, toxic lysinoalanine and highly carcinogenic nitrosamines are all highly present in soy products.
Tip: Choose any high protein whole food such as brown rice, coconut milk, almond milk, whole grains, nuts, seaweeds, seeds, beans, and lentils. If you are searching for a suitable protein powder, choose any of a variety of protein powders available on the market today, including whey and egg protein.

Victoria is a global member of the health and fitness industry, having practiced in Madrid, Beijing and now Cairo. She has a BSC in Nutrition and a Fitness Nutritionist Specialist certification from the National Association of Sports Medicine, USA. Victoria created Healthy Meal Advisory to provide a guide for tasty nutrient dense foods and healthy portions. She loves helping people shift their mindset and their weight, and specializes in weight and fat loss, muscle gain and lifestyle coaching, in addition to working with those with allergies, thyroid problems, and the youth. You can follow her on Facebook or Instagram @healthymealadvisoryegypt.

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