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Diet & Nutrition | Wellness
Diet foods to avoid

6 Diet Foods That Kill Your Diet

Stay away from these “healthy” foods

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Have your efforts at dieting sapped your energy without moving the scale at all? That can happen when you follow claims and promises made by diet food manufacturers rather than sound nutrition principles.

Sticking to reasonable portion sizes and filling up with healthy food are always preferable to relying on diet foods. If you want to maintain a healthy weight or shed pounds, avoid these 6 kinds of “diet” foods and snacks:

1. Drinks with calories

This includes many vitamin drinks that are loaded with various types of added sugars. Choose drinks that contain zero calories. Water is always a great option. If you need to jazz it up, add some fresh lime, lemon or mint.

2. Store-bought smoothies

Before you order that smoothie, check the calories; some smoothies contain up to 1,000 calories and use ingredients only a world-class bodybuilder would need! Your best bet is to grab your blender and make your own smoothie with fresh fruits and vegetables and plain, low-fat yogurt. In Lifestyle 180, we add chia seed to one of our smoothies to get an omega-3 fatty acid boost as well.

3. Trail mix

If the mix contains yogurt-coated ingredients, it probably has partially hydrogenated fat (trans fat). Trans fat has been shown to decrease your good cholesterol and increase your bad cholesterol. You’ll do better making your own trail mix with peanuts, walnuts, raisins and chocolate bits that are at least 70 percent cocoa. Don’t overdo the dark chocolate, though — research shows that you need just a few ounces a week to benefit heart health.

4. Frozen diet entrees

These are typically loaded with sodium. And while they may be low in calories, they’re also typically low in nutrients (for example, refined grains may be used instead of whole grains). Instead, take some time on your days off to make nutritious meals that you can freeze and bring to work throughout the week.

5. Fiber/protein bars

These bars are about two steps away from a candy bar! Skip the bars and fill up with an apple or another piece of fruit. If you do choose a bar, look for the bars with the fewest ingredients. That’s often a sign that they are better for you.

6. Fat-free sweets

Fat-free cookies and cakes are deceiving. People think that ‘fat-free’ means ‘calorie-free,’ so they tend to eat too much. What’s more, sugar replaces the fat in these products — so you’re still getting a high number of calories.

Tags: diet, diet foods
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Kristin Kirkpatrick, MS, RD, LD, is a registered dietitian and wellness manager for the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute.

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  • Scottlinabarger

    Great advice!

  • guest

    Thanks for the information. I’ve been eating those Kashi bars for quite some time.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000656553516 Toni Kulma

    Fruit is the best snack when on a diet or anytime!

    • http://profiles.google.com/tychabrahe Lauren Eve Pomerantz

      Actually, it’s really not. It’s a better snack than candy or manufactured snacks. But fruit is high in sugars, and even though they are natural sugars, they are still sugars. For those on a low-carb diet or diabetics, fruit needs to be restricted.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jane-Skeen/1641639193 Jane Skeen

        Many of our vegetables are in fact fruits and can be high in sugars and/or sodium. It is best to use moderation, educate yourself, and definitely avoid processed foods. Our bodies were never intended to exist on all the additives and insecticides we encounter

    • IHaveHighCholesteral

      Try to stay away from bananas if you have high cholesteral

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Carol-Rhyner/1403912234 Carol Rhyner

    what about almonds fruits and veggies for snacks

  • Dillonvale10

    Gotta gp with water all the time. Don’t drink your calories.

  • marystod

    Why no mention of one of the 800 lb. gorilla in the room – Aspartame? In the recent Framingham Study, published in AHA’s Circulation journal, for example, diet sodas w/Aspartame caused weight gain and were considered no different from regular sodas in the author’s final analysis. This surprised even the scientists who conducted the peer-reviewed study. While I appreciate, and agree with, the other things mentioned on your List of Diet Foods to Avoid, I couldn’t help but notice a conspicuous absence of any mention of artificial sweeteners of any kind. This is most concerning to those of us who have made a three decade in-depth study of both sides of the artificial sweetener issue. Thank you so much for allowing my response. — Respectfully, Mary Nash Stoddard/author Deadly Deception Story of Aspartame (Odenwald Press 1998) http://marystod.blogspot.com/

    • krisitinkirkpatrick

      Hi Mary — I agree with you 100% and I thank you for your comment! The evidence related to diet cola’s in particular is clear. I always try to come up with creative ways to engage individuals about nutrition but sometimes, it’s impossible to say everything I want to on one blog. You’ll be happy to know that my latest blog (which has been submitted and will be published in the next week or so) discusses the “gorilla” in depth! Thank you for reading my blog and for your valuable feedback. I hope you enjoy my next blog which I believe will be more in line with what your looking for!

      • marystod

        Hello Kristin – Thanks so much for your thoughtful and much appreciated Response. I will, indeed, look forward to your next blog and those thereafter. Thank you for all you do, Kristin, to educate and create awareness of these very important health topics on the part of your readers. And, you do it in such an entertaining style – beautifully showing us serious topics need not be dull reading! :) — All best to you, Mary Stoddard

    • joe stolfi

      I’m interested in reading your article on aspartame, and the language translator on the page doesn’t list English … perhaps there’s a link in English somewhere? Thanks

      • http://profiles.google.com/tychabrahe Lauren Eve Pomerantz

        It’s in French. Google Chrome translates it passably well.

      • Mary Nash Stoddard

        This URL has links to English version from American Heart Association’s Circulation journal. Check it out. BTW, Ms. Kirkpatrick has followed up with a magnificent article addressing the issue. Highly enlightening and well written. http://marystod.blogspot.com/search?q=Framingham+Study

    • Krista

      A study on aspartame and weight gain would add to this study, but there is the confounding factor in studying aspartame and weight gain. Those who tend to drink diet sodas and soda in general tend to be less conscious in their food choices than those who avoid diet sodas/soda altogether. It would be hard to separate out weight gain caused by aspartame versus weight gain caused by making poor food choices.

      • Carl Colaizzi

        I agree Krista, its the SUBSTITUTION of calories consummed that causes the weight gain, not the diet drink

  • http://twitter.com/just4TheALofit TheAL

    Want snacks? Almonds. Fruit. Veggies. Plain water or water w/ True Lemon. Have to go for something made/processed? Look at calories and not whether or not it has sugar or fat. After finding 0 calories, then avoid fat and sugar alcohols.

  • http://www.facebook.com/gspee1 Garry Spee

    i like the bar code rule. if it got a bar code on it it’s bad. eat whole foods and pass by the grains.

  • http://www.facebook.com/thomjulian Thomas Julian

    I really enjoyed your article and agree that although some foods seem healthy, in all reality they are not. However, I tend to disagree with the addition of protein bars on this list. While protein bars can be a detriment to those who are not doing a workout, I find that supplementing protein is almost a necessity for a person with a heavy workout regimen. While whey protein may be a better option, some bars will offer an amount of protein that only large portions of meat can offer without the fat. Other than that I really enjoyed your article! I would love to read something about how to control sodium which is a topic you touched on in your frozen entree section. Thank you!

    • Health Hub Team

      Hi Thomas. Thanks for your awesome comment and for reading the article! I agree that some individuals may need more protein than others when it comes to specific weight training routines. I just want to make sure that when individuals are getting protein…or energy…or meal replacement bars, that they read the ingredients and ensure that they are not getting candy bars in disguise. I also think that many individuals don’t need this excess protein. Many Americans get too much protein as it is, and I had a few patients who did some light weight training a few nights a week and increased their protein considerably for it. It matters for a lot of serious weight trainers, yes — I just don’t want people using it as an excuse to ingest tons of sugar. — Kristin Kirkpatrick, MS, RD, LD

  • grammyb

    Reading labels has become so essential. I wanted to get some almond butter the other day and read the label of one and it had FOUR ingredients, one of which was sugar. Had to hunt to find “almonds and salt” as the only ingredients. I say if I can’t pronounce any of the words, I don’t need to ingest it. Also, I’m not a yogurt fan… Try tofu in your smoothie. It doesn’t change the flavor and it takes on whatever else you have put in. Thanks for reminding me to get some Chia seeds. I’d been using Flax. Also Dr. Amen recommends pea protein. Jarrow makes a wonderful plant protein powder that also contains Chia. Too bad processed foods have “taken over” so much!

  • mimiho04@yahoo.com

    To me, I eat a lot of fresh fruits and veggies, drink the best Kangen Water daily.

  • gypsy269

    Im tired of the attacks on artificial sweeteners,,im a diabetic and without them i might as well drink only water and we all know water is nasty for us with all its chlorine and crap in it,,sugar is bad fake stuff is bad,,this veggie is bad that one is bad,,if we listen to all the hype we will all be living on vitamin pills and rain water oh no wait cant do that either our skies will contaminate before we ever get it to our mouths even if we hang upside down in a rain storm ,,the fact is we are all gonna die someday ,,its in the grand plan,,born live die,,,thats life,,me? i ha gonna enjoy myself while im here for my little blink of time,,in ten or twenty years anybody who know me is gonna be dead foo so who is gonna say,,,gee she should not have had that diet coke,,lol,,,live love and be happy people screw the rest of it,,,