The myths about ‘healthy’ snacks

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It can be quite difficult to keep that freshmen 15, sophomore 20 and even the junior 30 at bay, especially during the end of the semester, which can make eating (and in some cases, showering) difficult. Things get even more challenging when foods that claim to be “healthy” are not actually all that healthy. Some of these healthy foods, in fact, can be downright fake or at least deceptive in how nutritionally beneficial they are. Below is a list of “healthy” foods that you should look out for.

Banana chips
Fried food is fried food; it does not matter if it’s potato, banana or cookie. Plantain chips may sound healthy in theory, but you’re still munching on the added salt, sugar and fat.

Alternative: You can saute plantains yourself. They come out so much more delicious than anything in a prepackaged bag could.

Couscous 

A North African staple, couscous has gotten the healthy reputation due to its popularity among vegetarians and hipsters, who uphold how versatile it is and how it can go with anything. Couscous is actually just small pasta and refined wheat.

Alternative: Quinoa is a much healthier choice, and it pairs well with various other foods.

Diet soda (diet anything, really)

You probably knew this, but diet sodas are in no way healthy. Diet sodas and other “diet” products often contain obscene amounts of sodium and are filled with unnatural flavorings. You’re still consuming empty calories. You might as well drink the regular version, which is also pretty bad by itself already. Some studies suggest that drinking soda even ages your cells prematurely.

Alternatives: Soda is bad news, so drink more water or have a cup of tea instead. If you’ll miss the fizz, opt for flavored seltzers or carbonated water.

“Low fat” or “reduced fat” products

Don’t eat these; in fact, you’re probably better off eating the real thing. The same advice for the diet soda extends to low-fat products as well. Like diet sodas, food makers will often add additional flour, sodium and preservatives to make up for the reduced content of fat. This is comparable to how Crossroads hypes up its menu online: smoke and mirrors.

Alternatives: Ideally, you shouldn’t be eating too much junk food. If you really want chips or cookies, just go with the original food in moderation.

Muffins 

These are calorie bombs even though they appear so innocuous. They’re like that innocent-looking guy you go on a date with only to find that he has a rusty van that says “candy” on the side of it. Stay away if you can.

Alternative: Eat muffins in moderation if you really like them. Opt for whole wheat tortillas or English muffins in the interim.

Smoothies

Health nuts love these, and with good reason. They can have a lot of vitamins and antioxidants. Unfortunately, not all smoothies are particularly nutritious or healthy. Many of them are often packed with sugars, syrups and other additives. That 900-calorie peanut butter and jelly smoothie you’re waiting in line for at Jamba Juice will likely not do you any favors.

Alternative: Blend your own ingredients into a smoothie instead, that way you know what’s in it.

Trail mix

Trail mix is absolutely delicious, probably because of all the hidden sugars, salt and fat that can be packed into the nuts and candy. We wish we could say that M&M’s, chocolate-covered almonds and salted, honey-roasted peanuts are perfectly healthy, but they’re still bad for your waistline.

Alternative: You can definitely make your own trail mix. If you purchase one at the store, look for unsalted trail mixes with low amounts of sodium. As for the dried fruit that some mixes contain, it’s always better to buy raw fruit.

Whole wheat bread

Be careful with wheat-bread products. Some companies market their breads as “whole wheat” when in actuality, the product’s mostly white bread with a minute amount of wheat flour mixed in. It’s like when your roommate drinks most of your milk and fills it up with water in the hope that you won’t notice. Deceptive as hell.

Alternative: Buy true whole wheat breads by checking the ingredients and making sure that each serving contains at least 2 grams of fiber.

Don’t be afraid to indulge in the things you love, such as chocolate muffins, giant burgers or sugary milkshakes, just don’t do it everyday. Consider healthier options and fuel your body with the right foods so that you can be healthy and prepared for your final exams.

Contact Karina Pauletti at [email protected].