You may think you're eating the right foods because they have the words "healthy" or "full of fiber" on the box or label, but most of those phrases are just marketing claims.
The next time you reach for a food labeled as "healthy," look twice. It may actually contain more misinformation than nutrition.
"The truth is, that marketing claims like 'all natural,' 'healthy,' 'high fiber' actually mean nothing. We're being tricked into buying food, and then we're actually feeling worse," Certified Holistic Nutritionist Robin DeCicco said.
She said protein bars aren't as healthy as they sound.
"Protein bars are actually candy bars disguised. They're full of artificial flavors, excess sugar and chemically engineered sources of protein, like soy protein isolate, which can definitely lead to belly bloat," she said.
She said some popular brands use whey protein, which is a milk protein and may be hard for some people to digest.
"Plus, the way that they're actually sourcing the protein is chemically engineered, so it doesn't do the same in your body as, let's say, if you were eating actual cheese or actual yogurt," she said.
Instead of protein bars, she recommends a piece of fruit, like an apple or pear, with natural nut butter.
"Just make sure that the only ingredient is the nut. And when you're eating a snack like that, you're going to feel fuller longer from the protein, the good fat, and the fiber. It's a very, very energizing snack," DeCicco said.
She said veggie chips are another choice that sounds healthy, but isn't.
"There's only a tiny bit of vegetable powder, but then they're made with a lot of refined ingredients that just turn into sugar in the body," she said.
Plus, they're deep fried in vegetable oil, which she said can lead to coronary heart disease and high cholesterol. For a healthier afternoon snack, eat crunchy vegetables like carrots, pepper, or celery with a dip like hummus or guacamole.
"That's going to also sustain you for a longer period of time," she said. "Keep pre-washed and pre-cut veggies in your fridge so that when you come in and you're starving, you don't have to do anything first. They're there ready for you to go."
Another seemingly healthy food that isn't actually healthy: granola. She said it's high in calories.
"Granola is super sneaky," DeCicco said. "It's packed with a lot of dried sugary fruit, plus a lot of oil. And the serving size for granola is actually a fourth of a cup. But you tell me one person who only eats a fourth of a cup of granola. Nobody. We're all eating double or triple that amount."
Instead, she said to build your own trail mix so you have control of what goes in.
"You can use almonds, walnuts, sunflower seeds, peanuts. Just try to make sure that they're raw," she said. "Look for no-sugar-added, dried fruit. Put these in baggies, take them with you out for the day, put them in your desk in your car, and you're gonna feel full for hours."