Are You Overeating Healthy Foods?

Overeating Healthy FoodsMore fruits, veggies and healthy foods can only mean better health, right? In short, not necessarily—it certainly is possible to have too much of a good thing.

But it all depends on the type of food and the quantity in question! Below are a few examples of the common misconceptions surrounding higher quantities of some popular healthy foods.

Nuts

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With nuts, the serving size is one ounce, approximately a handful. Mind your serving size because nuts are high in calories mostly from fat, fiber and various vitamins or minerals. How can you eat just one handful of nuts? You might be tempted to eat much more than that if you are feeling peckish.

You might get a belly ache from eating too many, but eating more than recommended will not pose any significant issues with your health. They won’t make you gain weight, but they should be consumed alongside other healthy food choices, too.

Breakfast Cereal

Don’t kid yourself: Breakfast cereals on the shelves of the supermarkets are high in sugar and fat. There are also some that give the illusion of being healthy when they aren’t. Granola is often marketed as healthy but it is high in calories and fat, far from an excellent choice to start your day. Cereals made from corn, wheat or rice usually are not whole grain and are heavily processed. Although they may be lower in calories because they weigh less, they are not a great breakfast choice either.

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If you need cold cereal, I recommend whole, shredded wheat and you don’t need to worry too much about serving sizes here. Spoon-sized shredded wheat is fairly dense, so most folks feel full after a cup or two. The same goes with oatmeal or other whole grain cereals. They are also quite filling and often about a half of a cup is enough to satisfy. Consuming more is not a big problem as this food comes packed with fiber and complex carbohydrates. Eating large portions of oatmeal every morning with fruit and low-fat milk is also a good idea if you need a little bit more food to hit the spot!

Red Wine

Yes, there is certainly a limit on the safe quantity that you should consume. Although you can have red wine every day, you should not exceed one to two glasses. Excessive alcohol can pose a health risk over time, damaging the pancreas and heart, and putting you at risk of stroke. In moderation, enjoy red wine guilt-free, and reap the heart-healthy benefits. Studies suggest that antioxidants in red wine called polyphenols may help protect the lining of blood vessels in your heart.

Olive Oil

This nutritious oil contains approximately 100 calories per tablespoon. So the recommended intake is about one tablespoon per day added to food. Olive oil is mostly composed of fat, antioxidant chemicals and various vitamins and minerals. If you eat a healthy plant-based diet with lean protein and fish, consuming more olive oil will not be a problem for you. Don’t worry about the recommended serving sizes. I’m not suggesting drinking it from the bottle, but there are many people who follow the Mediterranean diet and enjoy a lot more of this type of oil every day—their health is considered superb.

Hummus

Hummus is made from legumes like chick peas, tahini from sesame seeds, garlic and extra virgin olive oil. This condiment is another important part of the Mediterranean diet, my gold-star diet of choice. Hummus is one of the best nutritionally-dense foods out there. The addition of fresh vegetables or a few pieces of flat bread for dipping makes for a healthy snack, too. The recommended serving size is one to two tablespoons per day. I’m all for anyone and everyone eating more than this amount on a daily basis as long as they eat lots of veggies, too.

Orange Juice

Freshly squeezed and in limited qualities, please! Orange juice can raise blood sugar quite rapidly, even if it is high in pulp. I agree with the recommendation of six ounces per day, maximum. Try eating a fresh orange instead. Its pulp and pith contain fiber and important nutrients that work together to make the whole orange a super nutritious food, and help your body to process the orange’s high fructose. Fruit juice, I have to say, is extremely overrated nutritionally, and the orange by itself will keep you full for longer.

Sources:
Young, L., et al., “Portion Alert: 5 Healthy Foods You Can Easily Overeat,” Huffington Post website, July 2014; retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-lisa-young/food-portions_b_5591944.html?utm_hp_ref=healthy-living.
Willett, W.C., et al.,“Mediterranean diet pyramid: a cultural model for healthy eating,” Am J Clin Nutr 1995; 61: 1402S–1406S.