Flavored Greek yogurt
While Greek yogurt provides more protein than traditional American yogurt, flavored Greek yogurt also provides a significant amount of sugar. When toppings like caramel sauce or crumbled cookies are added, Greek yogurt rivals pudding or other creamy desserts. If you love your flavored Greek and can't picture making the change to plain, make it just that: your dessert.
"Fiber-rich" bars and cookies
The Fiber One brand has an extensive number of bars, cereal and now even streusel and cookies. While the cereal may offer many benefits beyond the fiber, consider dropping the bars that are low in protein and, despite being fiber-rich, offer more sugar than fiber.
It may be convenient to drink your vegetables rather than eat them, but juicing is not the most healthful way to consume your colorful, antioxidant-rich produce. Unlike smoothies, which include whole fruits and vegetables as well as protein-rich powders, plain Greek yogurt and sometimes heart-healthy nut butters or seeds, juicing leaves much of the goodness behind to provide just the sugars from your produce.
The result? A tasty, antioxidant drink that lacks the fiber, protein and satiety that a well-made smoothie can provide.
Foods that claim to benefit your Glycemic Index
You would think that other food manufacturers would learn from the class-action suit that Dreamfields Pasta settled after claiming that its noodles would improve your Glycemic Index (GI), yet other companies continue to make this claim. Seek nutrient-rich carbohydrates and combine them with wholesome protein and/or heart-healthy fats and you will naturally control your blood sugar without the added expense of foods that claim to do it for you.
Foods with healthy-looking packaging
Fancy fonts, creative packaging and foods that appear to be "good" for you aren't always so. You may be in a rush when you're shopping, but take a moment to review the nutrition facts and make sure the foods going into your cart are the foods you mean to be bringing into your home. Take advantage of shelf-tag systems that make this easier.
Food that claims to be "simple," but have a long ingredient list
Right along with fancy fonts and perfect packaging comes the trend toward “simple” as an eye-catching word meant to draw you in. Food manufacturers know that people are trying to consume less processed foods and fewer artificial ingredients.
It makes sense to connect front-of-package terms like "simple" with less processed foods, but if you turn over the package and read the ingredient list you may be surprised to see just how many ingredients are in some of these "simple" foods.
Wheat vs. whole wheat
Whole-wheat foods provide fiber, protein and other positive ingredients that you want in your diet. You can identify a whole-wheat food by its first ingredient, which should read as "100-percent whole wheat." It's important to note the difference between these foods and those breads, which are "wheat" breads. Unlike whole-wheat breads, wheat breads are not whole grain and are generally not rich in fiber or protein.
Similar to the deception that comes with words like simple, “natural” is not an FDA-approved term and therefore can be used to draw in consumers seeking a more natural diet. Closely examine foods with this label to ensure you are consuming those that fit the lifestyle choices you are trying to make.
Foods labeled with whole grains
What does it mean that a food offers 12 grams of whole grain? Not much, unless there's a nutrition facts panel and ingredient list to back it up. While you do want whole grains in your diet, the best place to find them is in whole-grain breads, cereals, crackers and the like made from 100-percent whole-grain flours.
In most cases, water or coconut water is all you need to replenish and replace electrolytes. Pass on sugary sports drinks that are offering more artificial ingredients, calories and other additives your body doesn't need rather than just the hydration you are seeking.
What Do YOU Think?
Do you have any of these foods in your pantry? What other foods do you think belong on this list? Do you read food labels carefully? Leave a comment below and let us know.
Allison Stowell, M.S., RD, CDN, is the registered dietitian for the Guiding Stars Licensing Company, a company devoted to helping people find the good, better and best choices at the supermarket. Visit Allison's blog to read more, and connect with her on Twitter.