By Kristin Sidorov
Avoiding temptation and trying to eat your daily dose of veggies can be challenging enough. Throw in hundreds of “healthy food” advertising gimmicks, an overload of dieting advice that seems to contradict itself, and confusing ingredient lists, you could find yourself eating foods that are anything but good for you.
Don’t let “diet” foods that are anything but keep you from reaching your goals. We’ve listed seven of the top unhealthy health foods out there.
Fruity Fat-Free Yogurt
Just because it says fat-free doesn’t mean it’s healthy. Most fruit-flavored yogurts have more than 17 grams of sugar in a 6 to 8 ounce serving. Yogurt is still a great choice for dieters, but it’s best to buy plain yogurt (try Greek) and add your own fresh fruit or a dollop of honey. Controlling what’s in your food wherever you can is almost always a healthier choice.
Diet Salad Dressing
Don’t be fooled by the label; look at the ingredient list. You’ll be lucky if you can pronounce one word in a list that seems to go on forever. Chock full of preservatives, additives, sodium, and sugar, this “diet” alternative isn’t really worth it. Try using a little olive oil and balsamic, or a dash of lemon juice and a pinch of salt.
This “diet” food’s fault lies entirely with its name. Doesn’t it somehow make you feel like eating just a few handfuls will make you look and feel like you’ve just finished a 5-mile hike? If only it were true. In reality, most of these “healthy” mixes are loaded down with chocolate, salt, and sugars, in addition to high-calorie dried fruit and nuts. In fact, throw in some flour and a few eggs, and you’ve got cookies. Save yourself the trouble and either make yourself your own snack mix using whole grain cereal, honey, and almonds.
Deli Meat Sandwiches
It’s important to know where your food is coming from, especially when it comes to foods like deli meats. Often, highly-processed deli options can be full of sodium and potentially harmful nitrates. Add that to a bulky roll with a slather of mayo and a thick slice of cheese, and you have a pretty unhealthy sandwich in front of you. Again, it’s always best to try and have as much control as possible over whats in your food. Check labels and talk to your deli guy about what goes into their meats before you buy.
Most protein bars are filled to the brim with artificial fillers, chemicals, and sugars, not to mention that many options are also pretty high-cal and high-carb. While we can’t speak for all protein bars (some organic varieties hit the health and diet mark pretty square one), these choco-loaded, processed bars are more like candy bars than anything else. Instead, try snacking on some raw almonds, crackers and hummus, or an apple and peanut butter for a healthy, high-energy snack that also packs a protein punch.
A seemingly great, low-cal lunch option on a cold day, canned soups contain over 350 milligrams of sodium per serving—which is only half the can. Throw in some salty crackers and you’ve got a pretty sodium-heavy meal, which can make you feel super sluggish and lead to high blood pressure. Instead, try whipping up a batch of homemade soup. Again, you get to control what goes in it, and we guarantee it’ll taste way better than the canned stuff.
Whole grains are a great staple of a healthy diet, but beware: dubious marketing and labeling may be tricking you into buying less-than-healthy bread. Unless it says “100 percent whole wheat,” you’re most likely buying processed white bread that has a little wheat flour and color mixed. Check the label, and always try to stick to breads with at least 2 grams of fiber per slice.
Sign up to receive the latest tips on Diet and Fitness: