In my opinion one of the worst example of a “double-cross” from a health and fitness perspective occurs when you think you’re making a solid nutrition choice (aka think you’re making positive, small steps) but you’re not… you’re doing the opposite. To put more simply, wouldn’t you feel terrible if the salad you ordered for lunch was worse for you than a big piece of chocolate cake staring at you on the dessert menu? Often times, as crazy as it sounds this is actually a reality. Don’t be tricked by crafty marketers, or things with a healthy lingo attached to them, and by all means don’t fall prey to the “False” healthy food items!
Take the classic Chicken Caesar Salad, which many would see as a much better lunch choice than pasta with cream sauce, or certainly chocolate cake. In reality…
- A typical Chicken Caesar Salad has over 1,000 calories, 70-80 grams of fat, 30+grams of carbs, and about 2,500 mgs of sodium.
- A typical portion of Fettuccine Alfredo (most would consider a heavy cream killer) has about 750 calories, 55 grams of fat, and about 1,000mgs of sodium.
- If you were to eat two reasonable sized pieces of chocolate cake (with frosting), for lunch you would be looking at about 550 calories, 22grams of fat, and 220 mgs of sodium in total.
Now, chocolate cake isn’t good for you, is loaded with empty calories (no protein, vitamins, etc.) and would be a terrible lunch choice. However, most people wouldn’t think that the salad they’re eating for lunch could be a worse choice than creamy pasta or cake. In reality, none of the choices here are good for you, and Fettuccine Alfredo is on my personal “do not eat list” for many reasons. The real message here is that things are not always how they appear, so you have to increase your menu IQ.
Be very careful, look at ingredients, portion sizes, etc. before ordering a meal that has traditionally been considered healthy. Over time, restaurants and marketers have determined that they sell more of these so called “healthy” items when they pump a lot of unhealthy ingredients back into them (e.g. sauces, crunchy deep fried toppings, cheese, etc.). For an interesting and fun way to learn more about what menu items to avoid, and what may make a better choice, I like Eat This Not That from Men’s Health.
Don’t get duped! A few small choices on the healthy side will start to make a difference.
Small steps add up!