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How to Avoid Unhealthy Foods That Seem Good for You

The supermarket is full of foods that sound healthy but are actually full of fat, sugar, additives, and calories. Learn how to tell the good from the bad.


  • Step 1: Beware of de-fatted foods Beware "fat-free" and "reduced fat" foods. Many are heavy on sugar and additives, and therefore high in calories.
  • Step 2: Get the "whole" thing Don't be fooled by the word "multigrain." Just because a product has a lot of different grains doesn't mean any of them are the healthy "whole grain" kind. Check the label: If the first ingredient is "100 percent whole wheat" or "whole grain," you're good.
  • TIP: Look for products that bear the Whole Grains Council's "Whole Grain" stamp of approval, which means the item contains a least half a serving of whole grains.
  • Step 3: Understand "All Natural" Understand the term "All Natural." For meat and poultry, it means that the product has no artificial flavors or colors, synthetic ingredients, or chemical preservatives. For all other foods, the term is unregulated, and used as a marketing tool rather than a guarantee that an item is unprocessed.
  • Step 4: Eat plain yogurt Eat plain yogurt. Otherwise, sugar has likely been added, making it more a sweet treat than a health food.
  • Step 5: Limit "nutrition" bars Most energy, protein, and granola bars are candy bars masquerading as health food. Stick to ones with at least four grams of fiber and 10 grams of protein, no more than 30 grams of carbs, and less than five grams of fat.
  • Step 6: Brew your own tea Brew your own tea beverages. Many of the commercial bottled and canned ones have enough sugar to qualify as cola, and very little of the antioxidants found in fresh-brewed tea.
  • Step 7: Know what "organic" means Pick foods marked "organic" if you want to be sure that they're free of synthetic pesticides, antibiotics, and hormones. But they're not necessarily more nutritious than their non-organic counterparts.
  • FACT: The average muffin sold in supermarkets is nearly 500 calories, more than twice what it was 20 years ago.

You Will Need

  • 100% whole-wheat and whole-grain foods
  • Plain yogurt
  • Loose tea or tea bags
  • Food with the Whole Grain Stamp

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