If You're Eating These 6 Things, Your "Diet" Is Doing Nothing

by Amanda Meadows on 25 July 2014 5 comments

Dieting is hard. But guess what? Bad dieting can require the same amount of stress and effort, and no positive result. (See also: 14 Dumb Things Holding You Back From Losing Weight)

If you're trying to lose weight, it's hard to know what foods to avoid. Sometimes we fall into the traps set by food marketers, or fall prey to our own sweet tooths. We're especially susceptible to foods that superficially "feel" healthy, but are actually working against our regimens. If you're eating these six things, your diet is for nothing.

"100-Calorie" Snacks

We know that chips, crackers and cookies are bad, but even those 100-calorie snack packs are unhealthy. Part of the problem is how they train you to think about calories. The wrong idea that "a calorie is a calorie" fuels the marketing of the seemingly innocuous packs, which cause an insulin spike that works against you by storing more fat.

What's more, research shows that consuming a package boasting low-calorie count actually makes us eat more. Thus, diet ruined.

Eat Instead: A small handful of unsalted nuts will give you the power to last between meals without the useless empty calories.

Meatless Frozen Foods

Veggie burgers, meatless chicken nuggets, and everything else marketed as healthy or eco-conscious alternatives to meat are still processed foods. Many frozen veggie foods are full of grains and genetically modified soy. Also, think of the carbs. Put a bun on that Boca Burger and now you have three times the carbohydrates!

Many processed veggie patties also have upwards of 400 mg of sodium, which can increase the risk of high blood pressure.

Eat Instead: Make your own veggie patties with as few ingredients as possible. Skew to tasty but nutritious foods like beets and black beans.

Flavored Yogurt

If you're eating yogurt that is not "plain" or "unsweetened," you are hurting your diet with unnecessary sugar and calories. The average flavored yogurt contains around 16 grams of sugar. Some yogurts have more sugar content than a Twinkie.

Yogurts that read "fat-free" could be worse, because additives like cornstarch (known on labels as "maltodextrin") provide extra carbohydrates.

Eat Instead: Buy plain yogurt and add fresh (not preserved or dried) fruit for flavor to get more nutrition, decrease sugar, and fight the fitness plateau.

White Flour

We've been lying to ourselves with our flour tortillas, wraps, flatbreads, and "gluten-free" pasta. It's all refined carbs, and sometimes those items are even more calorie and sugar dense than regular old Wonder bread.

The author of the book Wheat Belly, Dr. William Davis, goes so far as to suggest that grains are the root of problems such as gut flora imbalance and diabetes. Other doctors suggest to keep some of your favorite white flour items to a minimum and mostly eat more satisfying high-fiber carbs.

Eat Instead: Choose high-fiber carbohydrates that will make you fuller, longer, such as a plate of vegetables. If you're jonesing for a sandwich, go for a half- or open-faced sandwich using a high-fiber, sprouted grain bread.

Smoothies

Delicious smoothies. They can be great for you. But the ones we're drinking the most, the ones we order while on the go from places like Jamba Juice, are basically just sugar delivery systems. Let's be honest, we usually don't use them as full meal replacements as intended, and here's why: You experience a sugar spike, crash, and then two hours later you're starving again.What do you do? Reach for whatever is closest to you regardless of health value (which, let's face it, is probably pizza). (See also: You'll Be Surprised How Much Sugar These 10 Foods Have)

Eat Instead: Make smoothies for yourself at home without unhealthy ingredients like sugary fruit juices, excess dairy, or added sweeteners.

Dried Fruit

Dried fruit can be mor accessible than fresh fruit. However, it's also a lot easier to overeat, because it's addictively sweet. Dehydrating fruit makes it taste sweeter and makes each unit smaller than its fresh equivalent. This places dried fruit high on the glycemic index. For example, a cup of grapes is 60 calories, while a cup of raisins is 460.

Dried fruit is also harder to digest than fresh fruit, making your attempt to eat healthy for nothing.

Eat Instead: Default to fresh fruit because it's easier to reap the benefits of its nutrients. If you do eat dried fruit, measure out a small amount (⅛ cup) before eating and mix it with a handful of nuts such as raw almonds.

Can you think of anything else that's touted as healthy but is actually killing you diet?

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Guest's picture
Denise

Very poor advice, in my opinion. For most people, losing weight is a matter of calories in/calories out. Maintain a modest calorie deficit below your Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE) and you'll lose weight, even if you eat white flour, smoothies, and dried fruit. Some people do have medical issues such as insulin resistance that make weight loss harder and requires a different macro balance than is generally recommended. What are the nutritional qualifications of the author to make these unsupported and unscientific statements? Dispensing nutritional advice should be done only by a Registered Dietician or qualified health professional.

Amanda Meadows's picture

Hi! Feel free to click though the links on the article to find cited sources and recommended reading. Many people, including me, have had trouble with the "a calorie is a calorie" and "calories in, calories out" theories. If one is not able to exercise as frequently as they should, cutting out certain calorie sources like simple carbohydrates (which are the most overeaten) does help.
In the end advice is just advice, not a prescription. Please talk to a Nutritionist or Registered Dietitian before changing your diet.

Guest's picture
Ruby

I disagree and think that it is good advice. Many people don't realize what they are eating, and think yogurt or veggie burgers are naturally healthy, and they don't look at the ingredients at all. Its all about educating yourself and cutting back on things that are hurting you.

Guest's picture
Jason

A calorie is a calorie to your body but you do have to consider the satiety index if different foods. You are going to feel fuller on 500 calories of grapes than 500 calories of raisins.

Amanda Meadows's picture

Yes, the satiety of a food is key. Regardless of calorie theory, Americans are the most likely to ignore serving portions and overeat (especially when one of the foods is marketed as "healthy" or "low-cal"). That's why it's so important to make a smarter choice in the first place –– like fresh grapes instead of raisins.