6 ‘Healthy’ Foods That Can Bust Your Diet
Fact: Most things that taste amazingly good aren’t good for you. (We’re looking at you, cheeseburgers and fries.)
READ: 10 Foods You Should Break Up With
The thing about these foods, though, is that we know were not doing ourselves any favors in the health department, but we also get that indulging once in a while isn’t the end of the world.
But then there are those so-called “healthy” foods that we think are great for us — or at least not terrible — but are packed to the gills with waistline saboteurs.
READ: 10 Foods That Could Help Boost Weight Loss Efforts
Like what, exactly? Read on for 6 “healthy” foods that’ll cause weight gain.
Wheat bread and multi-grain bread
Most people think they’re doing themselves a healthy favor when they opt for “wheat bread” on their deli sandwiches, or pick up a pre-packaged loaf of 7-grain at the supermarket, but the fact remains most brands are not much better for you than plain old white bread, as they’re made with refined grains, which means you’re not getting the full nutritional benefit of the actual whole grain.
A good way to tell whether your wheat bread is really whole is to read labels — if the first flour in the ingredient list is refined (code terms include “bleached” or “unbleached enriched wheat flour”) it’s most definitely not “whole wheat” or “whole grain" — it’s essentially white bread with a brownish tint. In a restaurant and can’t see the label? Take half the bread off a sandwich, which not only nixes calories and carbs, but also will lessen your refined flour intake.
Or “cakes for one” as we like to call them. It’s absurd that muffins are marketed to us as breakfast foods, when they should really be considered decadent desserts. Many pre-made muffins — even “healthy” kinds like bran — are completely oversized, clock in at over 350 calories (others can get as high as almost 700 calories and nearly 40 grams of fat!), and they’re packed with refined grains and sodium.
Homemade muffins can be a different story, as you control the size and what goes into them (check out Pinterest for some good healthy recipes), but most pre-made versions are one-way ticket to calorieville. If you’re at brunch and a basket of mini muffins arrive, one won’t hurt since they’re so small, but stop there if you’re ordering other things.
Store-bought apple sauce
In this case, we’re talking about mass-market applesauce that you find near the juice in typical supermarkets, which is loaded with added sugar. In fact, one leading brand’s snack-size cup of has 90 calories and 22 grams of sugar, and the second ingredient is high fructose corn syrup. Instead, stick with an actual apple — one small one has around 65 calories, 3 grams of fiber and 13 grams of sugar — but it’s natural sugar, not added sugar.
If you live near a specialty supermarket like Whole Foods or a health food store, look for unsweetened applesauce, or try to make your own this season.
You’ve heard it before: Just because something is called a “salad” does not make it automatically healthy. In fact, some salads have more calories than a Big Mac. The offenders: Salads packed with meats, cheese, bacon, croutons, and those drenched in dressing (yes, even heart-healthy olive oil.)
The trick here is stay away from already-made dishes like chef’s salads (which are packed with ham, turkey, eggs, cheese, and usually a creamy dressing), Cobb salads (blue cheese, egg, bacon, chicken, and occasionally avocado), and anything with fried chicken, crispy strips or heavy cream-based dressings. Craving a Caesar salad? Ask for dressing on the side and dip your fork into it before each bite, as opposed to pouring it on.
Again, all of the above salads can easily be prepped at home, and you can control exactly how much meat (try a slice or two of turkey or half a grilled chicken breast, as opposed to half a pound), cheese (one teaspoon of crumbled cheese, or one to two thin slices chopped), and other ingredients goes into them, which obviously makes them healthier.
Restaurants will also be happy to make substitutions, but while pre-made grab-and-go salads are occasionally a necessity, you can usually control the dressing, and weed out some offending ingredients.
Much like lemon or lime juice, pure cranberry juice is extremely tart and pretty much undrinkable on its own, so most types found in supermarkets and at restaurants — actually called “cranberry juice cocktail” — are jam-packed with sugar and sweeteners. In fact, an 8-ounce glass of most store-bought cranberry juices has more sugar than a can of soda!
The alternative? Seek out cranberry juice concentrate, which is often sold in very small bottles in the juice aisle. It’s purely the juice of untouched cranberries, so it’s way too tart to sip on its own, but when a little is poured into water or seltzer, you get the flavor and the many health benefits cranberries have to offer.
It’s ironic that we often attribute the word “granola” to healthy types, considering the crunchy snack is anything but. Most pre-packaged granola is made with rolled oats, honey and puffed rice, none of which have any real nutritional value. It’s also packed with sugar, fat and calories (some clock in at 400 a cup!) and low in vitamins and minerals. Plus, granola is a food that’s hard to digest, which can lead to bloating, gas and other stomach issues. Why not snack on fiber-rich cereal or a handful of almonds instead?