It’s no surprise that nutritionists advocate healthy diets packed with wholesome, natural foods and plenty of fruits and veggies. On the plus side, most of them do allow a little wiggle room for the occasional unhealthy indulgence. That said, there are some foods that even the most accommodating of professionals won’t touch.
Here are a few items that nutritionists have blacklisted and why they’re on the “do not eat” list.
Fat-Free Sweets and Dairy
With so many packaged desserts boasting fat-free labels, it’s easy to make the assumption that these are the healthier choice. However, registered dietician Abby Greenspun recalls that when she first started working as a nutritionist, fat-free cookies and cakes didn’t exist.
“There’s fat-free everything now, but it wasn’t always that way,” Greenspun explains. “You’re better off having a piece of the real thing.”
Fat contributes to satiety, she says, which is why low-fat dairy is a better option than fat-free. Low-fat cheese, for example, can be combined with crackers or an apple for a satisfying snack.
“If a food is not the color nature intended, you can pretty much bet that it is pretty awful for your body,” said Keri Glassman, MS, RD, CDN on Today.com.
“It’s usually 100 calories of sugar and junk,” says Greenspun. “There’s nothing nutritious, nothing that’s going to give your body anything good.”
In lieu of a 100-calorie pack of Oreo crisps, Greenspun recommends packing real, natural foods for a midday snack. Her suggestions: a handful of nuts, slices of turkey wrapped around avocado, hard-boiled eggs, turkey jerky, cottage cheese mixed with cinnamon or roasted chickpeas.
It starts with a healthy whole grain, but fake flavoring, artificial color, added chemicals and trans fats quickly turn this movie snack into a nutrition nightmare. What’s more, the popcorn bag is lined with a chemical called perfluorooctanoic (PFOA), which is used to make Teflon and other stain- or stick-resistant materials. PFOA is also classified as a likely carcinogen by the Environmental Protection Agency.
Heavily Sweetened Yogurt
When choosing a yogurt, it’s important to look at both the fat and sugar content. Greenspun highlights the popular YoCrunch as an unhealthy example. “It’s just candy on top of heavily sweetened yogurt, with lots of added sugar,” she explains.
Plain, low-fat yogurt is best, says Greenspun, because it doesn’t contain any added sugars. She recommends mixing it with honey, fresh fruit, cinnamon or a dash of Stevia organic drops to add some extra flavor and sweetness.