It seems like definitions for “healthy” and “unhealthy” foods are changing all the time. So when you’re trying to be mindful of which items you should and shouldn’t be stocking up on, it can make a trip to the grocery store a bit complicated. You want to make sure you’re eating the healthiest foods you can, but there are just some foods out there that will trick you into thinking they’re great when nutritionally speaking, they’re equivalent to a candy bar. Big yikes.
So in order to help you avoid filling up your shopping cart with foods that will just wreck your weight-loss goals, we rounded up 15 of the biggest offenders, aka the foods you should never have in your kitchen that even experts would agree are a total no-go.
Dried fruit might seem like a smart way to have a healthy snack on hand, as it’s much easier to carry around a little box of these than an entire fruit salad. But as Amy Shapiro MS, RD, CDN, and Eat This, Not That! medical expert board once pointed out, “when you dry the fruit, you remove the water and therefore make it more concentrated. So a plum becomes a prune and you can eat five prunes faster than you can eat five plums and get a huge sugar hit. No, thank you! Also, many dried fruits are sweetened with fruit juice or sugar to take away the tartness.”
The problem with flavored yogurts? They can have as much sugar as a can of soda, especially when it comes to the options that come with fruit at the bottom…They’re swimming in more sugar! This is not an ideal way to kickstart your morning or indulge in a midday snack. Instead, it’s best to buy plain yogurt and just add fresh fruit and some nuts to it.
These products are selling a lie (much like these other ‘healthy’ foods that are actually terrible for you!).
Another seemingly healthy food you’ll want to kick to the curb? Granola. Again, it all comes down to the sugar.
“Certain granolas can actually contain more sugar and calories than processed cereals. Avoid granolas that contain more than 6 grams of sugar per serving and brands that use artificial flavors and sweeteners,” registered dietitian Jillian Kubala, MS, RD advises in a previous article.
Rice cakes might seem like a perfectly harmless snack, but there really isn’t much going on with them nutrition-wise. They don’t have significant fiber or protein, and they’re known for being high on the glycemic index (GI), which measures how quickly your blood rises in response to food.
Basically, you’ll be hungry again in no time. No thanks!
If you’re making oatmeal yourself with some steel-cut oats and fresh fruit, you’re on your way to a healthy, filling breakfast. The problem with the instant packaged variety is that while they are convenient, they’re also packed with added sugars that can steal your energy and ultimately make you hungrier faster.
Grab-and-go smoothies seem great in theory. They’re an easy and tasty way to get your fruit in for the day, right? Not so fast. Once again, sugar is to blame; the average smoothies contain anywhere from 30-60 grams of sugar. You’re much better off making your own and having control over exactly what ingredients go inside!
This one should come as a no-brainer by now, but sodas (including diet sodas) should really never be a regular part of your diet. Between the astronomically high amount of sugar, which makes it hard for the body to maintain healthy glucose and insulin levels, to the fact that drinking soda can lead to weight gain (hello, high-fructose corn syrup), according to a study from The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, there really is nothing redeeming about the fizzy stuff.
Agave is sometimes billed as the better-for-you alternative to sugar, but it really isn’t. It’s high in fructose, which can cause high cholesterol and belly fat. As Marisa Moore, MBA, RDN, LD told us, “Yes, it comes from a plant, but it has little to no nutritional value.”
You can most likely guess what the issue is with these processed cereals. Yes, it’s all that sugar! If you take a look at the nutrition labels, this breakfast food is often high in calories, fat, and carbs, too.