It happens. Sometimes even the best foods “go bad.” Foods topping the “healthiest of” lists occasionally get mixed up with the wrong toppings, not-so-great types of cooking and even whole recipes that turn them into a shadow of their former nutritious selves. When this happens, they go from nutrition stars making us feel great to nutrition bombs leading us into the dreaded land of guilt and extra time on the treadmill!
The key is knowing what to look for. When you know the signs, you can help keep your healthy foods on the straight and narrow and yourself feeling good:
“Fried” starts sneaking into recipes.
1. Chicken – Sure he’s a lean protein and favorite of dietitians and personal trainers the world over, but when he starts hanging out in the fryer and even getting breaded or battered, it’s time to start worrying. Keep your chicken a health and fitness favorite by skipping the oil and added toppings.
2. Beans – These legumes are usually right near the top of the healthy food list, thanks to protein, fiber and iron, but pinto and black bean especially have a tendency to get caught up in refrying, and that’s bad news for your diet. Keep your beans from going bad when you enjoy them whole in a variety of dishes.
3. Potatoes – These and their sweet potato cousins can be powerhouses of nutrition when they’re making the most of their healthy potential, but they’re also easily and frequently persuaded to leave it all behind for a few minutes of golden hot oil and plenty of added fat. Keep all your potatoes meeting their potential with baking, roasting and grilling instead of frying.
Added fats, and not the healthy kind, start
showing up in dishes and recipes.
4. Popcorn – It’s normally a low-calorie whole grain snack that can satisfy whether you’re watching your weight or not, but when this treat gets mixed up with butter and too much salt, it can be an unhealthy pick that is hard to resist. Keep popcorn a healthy whole grain with air popping and herb seasoning.
5. Shellfish – Shrimp, lobster, oysters and other shellfish can make a healthy addition to your meals with lean protein and essential minerals such as zinc, but these shellfish and butter have a long and rich history. Shellfish is drawn again and again to butter, adding saturated fat and an unhealthy golden halo to this otherwise healthy food. Keep shellfish lean by using herbs and spices instead of butter for flavor.
Moderation starts going out the window.
6. Salad – This food is the poster child for a healthy diet with loads of leafy greens and veggies, but sometimes, salad has a little problem with moderation. A little cheese here, deli meat there, some croutons and dressing and before you know it, the star of the healthy food world has somehow fallen on the worst of the worst list. Keep salad from straying with small amounts of higher calorie toppings and lighter dressings.
7. Dark chocolate – This sweet recent addition to the best-of lists has become a darling of them all. As a newly named healthy food though, dark chocolate is still easily persuaded to join up with too many of the wrong sweet treats from marshmallows to caramel, candied nuts and more. Keep dark chocolate on the straight and narrow when you pair her with good foods like fruits and raw nuts.