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10 ‘Diet’ and ‘Health’ Foods That Are Actually Unhealthy

Don’t be fooled by marketing – check labels and ingredients!

Most of us sure have battled our inner selves with our food choices. There is mounting pressure to eat healthy and pursue healthier lifestyles to avoid diseases like cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and the like. Thus, diet and “health” foods are a booming industry.

But are they really healthy? What if it turns out that they can be equally as bad as the junk food we are trying to avoid?

Don’t be fooled by marketing – check the labels and ingredients!

Don't be fooled by marketing, check labels and ingredients!

And so, we are here to give you the low-down on some of these iconic and well-known health food and beverages we love to consume. Also, we added some tips and tricks on what you should actually look for in a truly healthy food. Ready?

Wheat and Multi-grain bread

Did this come off as a surprise to you? Wheat bread is healthier than white bread, right? Theoretically, yes; that is if you are consuming whole wheat bread. Some would use the same flour as white bread and just throw in a little bit of wheat flour into the mix and some grains, and voila – white bread disguised as multi-grain wheat bread. If in doubt, check the nutritional facts. Look for wheat and multi-grain products that say they contain at least 2 grams of fiber. This is a good indicator that there is indeed a lot of the good stuff on your bread.

Salad Dressing and Garnishings

Surely one can’t go wrong with salad as a healthy diet food right? Salad is good yes, but only if you leave out all the extra calories in those dressings and garnishes. Just check how much sugar and calories thousand island, mayo or caesar dressings contain. Also, some love to add “unhealthy” stuff to their salad such as bacon bits, croutons, lots of cheese, and more. Sure, all these things make it more palatable, but it defeats the purpose and health benefits of salad. Replace the dressings with something healthier and with fewer calories such as a few tablespoons of olive oil or balsamic vinegar. For garnish, use as little as possible or try better alternatives such as tuna.

Diet bars, Protein bars, Granola bars

They can be quite tasty, a great snack or dessert alternative, and less guilt-inducing. Or are they really? While these bars herald themselves as a “better” alternative given the fewer calories, the fact remains that they contain a lot of sugar. Some of these bars are highly processed, with preservatives or ingredients like chocolate or caramel to make them last longer or to taste better. A rule of thumb to observe is that, if your bar amounts or exceeds 200 calories or has at least 8 grams of sugar, ditch it. It’s basically a wannabe candy bar in disguise. You’re better off snacking with truly low-calorie and nutrient-dense foods such as fresh fruits.

And now that we’ve mentioned fruit…

Fruit juices, smoothies and shakes

Surely we cannot go wrong with a fruit beverage right? Well it’s a yes and no. If your juices are 100% natural, juiced at the source, then by all means go for it. But if your fruit juices are those processed ones, check the nutritional facts and ingredients again and hello calories and sugar! For smoothies and shakes, especially restaurant-bought ones, these often contain ice cream, or full cream milk to make them creamier. There might also be syrups and sweeteners and the like which again are all unnecessary extras to the healthy goodness of fruits. Investing in a good juicer may be better and preparing your vegetable and fruit drinks at home with only all the honest to goodness fruits and veggies is the best way to go.

“Fat-free” Fruit-flavored Yogurts and Fro-Yo

Ahh the fat-free label. It is a common misconception that because something is fat-free it is automatically healthy. Remember there are also good fats out there that we can eat. In yogurts and dairy products when something is low-fat, fat-free or reduced fat it basically means removal of a certain percentage of fats in dairy; however, this may result to less creamy and a “thinner” dairy product both in taste and consistency. In yogurts, this can be compensated by adding other ingredients to boost flavor such as fruit flavoring, processed fruits, and sweeteners. The Fro-Yo or Frozen Yogurt craze has also swept us by storm. The concept is so fun, as it enables us to enjoy something similar to ice cream but healthier right? Not to mention that we can choose the toppings we want! And that my friends, is where the problem lies. The benefits of yogurt over conventional ice cream can easily be neglected by the stuff we add in it. Choco chips, syrups etc, why not try having it plain? Or instead of processed fruit-flavored ones, why not chop up some real fruit to put on that yogurt?

Canned Soup, Instant soups

Aside from salads, another go-to diet food is soup. It is filling and with less calories than a regular meal, making it a winner right? But again, as with foods we mentioned, there are takeaways. Especially if you love gorging on canned and instant soups. Since they are very easy to prepare – just pop ’em in the microwave or heat up on a saucepan and we’re good. But the thing with processed food is that it contains a lot of preservatives and salt. Just check the label how much sodium content is there and you might get a heart attack, literally! The salt content can easily nullify the calories you are saving out and predispose us to kidney problems and hypertension. To make soup really healthy, it is best to make it homemade. Have those mushrooms, asparagus, tomatoes or pumpkin pureed from your blender or juicer and add seasoning to make really healthy soup.

Sushi

Perhaps once in a while this thought occurred to us, “Why are Japanese people so skinny? Is it because of Sushi?”. And so we gorged ourselves full of this healthy and very culturally-diverse signature Japanese dish. But the thing is finishing more than four rolls of regular-sized sushi by yourself is almost tantamount to eating a full bowl of rice meal. Sushi is basically bite-sized garnished white rice. And white rice is as notorious as white bread and actually even worse in the calorie count department. A healthier and lesser calorie alternative would be sashimi which is basically sushi sans the rice.

Gluten-free products

Many have misconceptions on what gluten is all about. Recently, gluten-free pastries and food became a hit, and many mistook gluten as something that is responsible for making them feel bloated. And thus removing this evil gluten out of our beloved pastries, bread, and pasta should make these healthy right? The thing is, only three conditions will make gluten bad for you: 1) Celiac disease, 2) Gluten intolerance and 3) Wheat allergy. If you have none of these then gluten is completely okay. Furthermore, it is not gluten that makes these products fattening or unhealthy. A gluten-free chocolate cupcake can just be as sinful as a regular chocolate cupcake. Sometimes it can have even more additives, since bakers would compensate for the loss of texture by masking it with frosting.

Multi-grain cereal mixes

Okay, so how about multi-grain breakfast cereal? Perhaps it is truly healthy already right? It may be, just as long as there are not much sugar in it. Some multi-grain cereals claim to be multi-grain but actually has more sugary and sweet components like frosted flakes, honey or syrup glazed bits etc. than actual grains in them. Give these things up and enjoy a truly whole-grain cereal like muesli or oats instead. Rule of thumb is that there should be more fiber than sugar content per gram of your cereal.

Sports Drinks, Flavored Water, Energy Drinks, Diet Soda

They’re good at replacing electrolytes and they’re like water but with flavor, so it’s all good right? Not necessarily so. The thing is nothing can replace good pure water as the best rehydrating fluid we can have. Why tamper with its zero-calorie, fat-free, sugar-free formulation with all those artificial flavorings and even food colors? Sports drinks and energy drinks are recommended if you are in a constant state of electrolyte loss such as running a marathon. But to replace water for everyday consumption, nuh-uh. If you are one of those who cannot drink water because it is too “bland”, try slicing up some citrus fruits like oranges and lemons or putting mint leaves in your water pitcher. Let it sit for a few hours or overnight and the fruits will render its flavor on your water. As for “diet” soda just don’t! It is still just the cuter-looking devil incarnate of conventional sodas. It may not have as much sugar or it pretends to have zero sugar, but it has worse components in the form of artificial sweetener!

And there you have it, folks. Hopefully, this post helped in making us more conscious about “health” food and diet foods that we consume. Just because its marketing or advertising says so does it mean that we should believe it. Find this informative? Share it with your friends.

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