5 Unhealthy "Health Foods" You Should Avoid

Posted in: Diet & Nutrition

Susan Ohtake, CPT

Sometimes, the foods we eat to stay healthy aren’t actually keeping us healthy at all. It’s not always easy to know what is good for you and what isn’t. This is especially true when it comes to diet foods that are marketed to us as healthy. What should you believe?

Here is a rundown of five foods you may think are healthy that are actually causing you to retain, or even gain, weight.

Fat-Free Foods

Are you still buying fat-free sour cream? How about fat-free cookies? There’s even fat-free cheese. Cheese!

If you’re buying this junk—STOP!

It’s a scam. Fat-free foods were a fad that came out of the dieting craze of the 1990s, when low-fat diets were at their most popular. The idea made sense: if you want to lose weight, simply don’t eat fat. Easy.

Of course, as it turns out, the human body is much more complicated than that.

To replace the flavor that was lost in the removal of fat, these products replace the fat with much less healthy substances, including corn syrup, sodium, and even MSG.

Let the fat back into your life. There are no easy cheats. The key is focusing on eating healthy fats and using moderation—not eliminating it all together.

Diet Shakes and Bars

Weight-loss products like Slim Fast promise quick and easy change. If you drink two shakes a day, they say, you will drop the pounds in no time.

Meal replacement bar advertisements tell a similar story. They’re supposed to be a healthier, lower-fat alternative to real food.

The problem with these products is that they are absolutely PACKED with sugar. Essentially, they’re junk food. You might as well be eating a candy bar or a real milkshake for the amount of sugar you’re consuming.

The best way to lose weight is to choose healthy foods, not to skip the foods altogether. And if something looks like a candy bar and tastes like a candy bar…it’s probably a candy bar—no matter how it’s marketed.

Fruit Juices

Organic juice blends are hugely popular right now. Brands like Bolthouse Farms and V8 sell these blends and “smoothies” in huge bottles that can cost up to ten dollars a pop.

Surely, you’re thinking, there’s nothing wrong with juice. Well, I hate to tell you, but juice is junk food. It’s a delicious treat, but it should not be considered health food. Why? It’s is absolutely brimming with sugar.

Because fruit is healthy, it seems reasonable that fruit juice would be healthy. The big difference between eating a piece of fruit and drinking a glass of juice is in balance the plant matter in the fruit provides. Instead of something that is mostly fiber, you get something that is mostly sugar.

Instead, grab a fresh piece of fruit.


Flatbread seems like an obviously healthier alternative to regular bread. After all, it’s less bread…right?

Well, hang on. Let’s think about this. What’s the difference between flatbread and regular bread? Answer: a leavening ingredient. Whether it’s yeast, baking powder, or baking soda, leavening is what causes bread dough to rise and grow. It puts air between the wheat and water molecules. Without it, the bread stays flat. Thus, flatbread.

So, really, flatbread is the same thing as regular bread, just denser. That means MORE calories are packed into each piece than with regular bread. Opt for whole grain bread or, better yet, just cut the bread out altogether.


Nuts can be super healthy, but they can also be bad for you. It just depends on how they are prepared.

The problem with many varieties of prepared nuts is that they are fried and salted—making them no better for your health than chips or other junk food.

Try raw nuts for maximum nutrition. If you prefer them cooked, roast them yourself at home. That way, you can be sure to avoid all of the added oils and salt that are in commercial brands.

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