The Foods Nutritionists Won't Eat
Everyone splurges once in a while, even nutritionists. But these are the foods they'll never touch.
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"I cut out diet soda from my life about five years ago. I came to the conclusion that I didn't need a dose of artificial ingredients on a daily basis, and I would be much better off drinking water and plant-based beverages, such as home-brewed iced tea, hot tea (herbal and regular), and coffee during the day. I don't believe there's enough science today to indicate that the diet beverages are harmful, but I also don't think there is any true benefit to including them. About a year ago I tried a diet soda on a plane — after not tasting one for several years — and I found that it tasted absolutely awful. So, I guess I haven't been missing much!"
-Sharon Palmer, RDN, author of Plant-Powered for Life
Coconut Milk Ice Cream
"Would you give up a high-end product for a 'wannabe' product? It sounds healthier because it’s 'plant-based,' but this alternative to the real thing will make you run for the hills. Coconut ice cream's texture is inferior, it usually has lower protein content, and the hype for using coconut oil is overrated. The worst part of this ice cream alternative, is with EVERY bite you taste coconut. I love coconut, but not with every bite with my chocolate, strawberries, blueberries, and other flavors. With coconut ice cream and regular ice cream having a similar caloric make-up, you must ask yourself...do I cry in a bowl of bad tasting wannabe ice cream or relish in a good tasting high-end cow’s milk-based ice cream? The answer is clear, regular ice cream."
-Jonathan Valdez, MBA, RDN, CDN, CSG, CCM, ACE-CPT Owner of Genki Nutrition and Media Spokesperson for New York State Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
"I won't eat raw oysters on the half shell...I don't trust them to be safe. Plus, they are slimy and I don't get to chew them, just swallow them. That's no fun."
-Nancy Clark, M.S., R.D., Boston-area sports nutritionist and author of Nancy Clark's Sports Nutrition Guidebook
"You'll never catch me eating a carnival corn dog — so creepy. I know wayyy too much about what's lurking inside of fatty, processed hot dog meat: corn syrup, nitrates, fillers, fat and more fat. In fact, there's very little protein. Place it on a wooden stick, cover it in refined cornmeal batter and fry it up in a vat of oil? No thanks!"
-Joy Bauer, M.S., R.D., founder of Nourish Snacks and nutrition/health expert for NBC’s Today Show
Reduced-Fat Peanut Butter
"Many of my clients are surprised to hear that most reduced-fat peanut butter is not necessarily a healthier version of regular peanut butter. While both regular and reduced-fat peanut butter contain about the same amount of calories (200 calories for two tablespoons), the reduced-fat variety contains more refined carbohydrates and sugar. Why? The fat that would be in the reduced-fat peanut butter spread is replaced with ingredients like corn syrup solids, sugar and molasses (read: even more sugar), plus starchy fillers. Those add-ins boost the spread's sugar content to 4 grams and its total carbs to 15 grams. Compare that with natural peanut butter, which has just 1 gram of sugar and 6 grams of carbs."
-Tanya Zuckerbrot, M.S., R.D., CEO of F-Factor, author of The Miracle Carb Diet
"I'm a big believer that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but if all you grab in the morning is a donut, then you're missing an opportunity to fill your belly with something much more nourishing. Starting your day with a donut means you're probably opting out of healthier breakfast fare including eggs, fruits, whole grains, yogurt, and even vegetables. Donuts are made with white flour, sugar, oil, artificial flavor, and not much more. They don't provide vitamins, minerals, fiber or protein nor do they help consumers achieve the goal of adding more nutrient-rich fruits and vegetables to the diet."
-Liz Weiss, MS, RDN hosts the Liz's Healthy Table podcast and blog
"I never eat or buy commercially grown bean sprouts because they’re so prone to bacterial contamination, since they are grown in optimal conditions — wet and warm! In fact there been many illnesses linked to eating sprouts like alfalfa and bean sprouts."
-Sherry Coleman Collins, MS, RDN, LD of Southern Fried Nutrition
"Typical ingredients include corn syrup, partially hydrogenated oils and a host of various additives. Yuck, no thank you. In fact, I avoid most foods that contain partially hydrogenated oils; the limit for trans fats is so low (2g) that it's not worth it."
-Alex Caspero MA, RD, owner of Delish Knowledge and author of Fresh Italian Cooking for the New Generation
Soy-Based Veggie Burgers
"Lab-based meat products are making headlines on a daily basis it seems and I have no desire to give these engineered patties a try. I've had plenty of delicious and satisfying plant-based burgers in my day made from black beans, grains, and veggies, and will happily continue to enjoy them on occasion. These analog meat products are far from what I consider a 'minimally processed, whole food,' which is what we all should be enjoying more of on a daily basis. Touting a food as plant-based does not necessarily make it healthy. In the case of these lab-made meat alternatives, they are highly processed, stripped of fiber, phytochemicals, vitamins and minerals our bodies need, and often contain refined carbohydrates."
-Karman Meyer, Registered Dietitian/Nutritionist, TheNutritionAdventure.com
"While I love a good dessert, these types of pre-packaged treats don't appeal to me in the least. First of all, the ingredients list is highly processed containing artificial colors and flavors, and in some cases contains trans fats. Second, these are truly high-calorie desserts that can be marketed as snacks for kids or on-the-go eating. Desserts should be a special thing and I always prefer a higher quality, homemade version."
-Jenna Braddock, MSH, RDN, CSSD, sports dietitian and blogger at MakeHealthyEasy.com
"I won’t eat rare beef because I don’t want to get sick. Bacteria in undercooked meats can give you a minor stomachache, a case of the runs or something far more serious. And in rare cases, it can be life-threatening. To me, it’s just not worth it. A steak needs to be cooked to a minimum internal temperature of 145-degrees Fahrenheit. Ground beef, which is more likely to be contaminated, requires an internal temperature of at least 160-degrees Fahrenheit. Always, always, always use a good meat thermometer!"
-Virginia-based Jill Weisenberger, MS, RDN, CDE, CHWC, FAND, author of Prediabetes: A Complete Guide
"Lots of people are jumping on the cricket bandwagon, but you won't be catching me eating cricket products. I know that they are an amazing protein source that's great for the planet, but I just can't bring myself to eat them. I think I could choke them down if I was in the wild with Bear Grylls, but as a post-workout snack, I just can't go there."
-Frances Largeman-Roth, RDN, nutrition expert and author of Eating in Color
Imported Farm-Raised Shrimp
"I make a conscious effort to purchase and consume sustainable seafood, for both environmental and personal health. Imported shrimp are often unsustainably farmed and laden with chemicals and antibiotics. Sticking to this can certainly be a challenge, since 94 percent of the shrimp we consume in the U.S. is imported!"
-Kristy Del Coro, M.S., R.D., CDN, senior culinary nutritionist at SPE Certified
"To each their own, truthfully, but for me, the mere thought of bologna has always made my stomach turn. Perhaps it’s the vivid memories I have from my childhood lunchroom where the smell comes back to me, who knows. I'll be the first to admit I do eat lunchmeat like nitrate-free, low-sodium turkey on occasion. But the Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends we minimize our intake of sodium. In just one ounce of bologna there's usually over 250 mg of sodium, making a sandwich with 3 ounces of meat and 2 slices of bread easily upwards of 1,000 mg of sodium in one serving. A better swap if you like lunchmeat, roast your own pork (or turkey) and slice it fresh for a sammie!"
-Elizabeth Shaw MS RDN CLT, Author & Nutrition Expert, ShawSimpleSwaps.com
"I'm not saying I would starve to death before eating one, but they are definitely a food I avoid even when there are very [few] choices available. Here is why: They are basically a big bowl of sugar! The refined-carb product contains no nutrients that are beneficial for health or provide satiety. And they are easily overeaten for this reason — they have no fiber, protein or healthy fat. I always imagine a bag of pretzels as the same thing as a big bag of jelly beans. Those sugar calories affect your hormones and cause you to gain. And for what? A boring pretzel? No, thanks."
-Keri Glassman, RDN, CDN, of Nutritious Life
Fat-Free Whipped Topping
"The one food I would never eat is fat-free whipped topping. I find it tastes like the artificial ingredients it is made of, and I don't care for it. If I want a creamy dessert topping, I use a small dollop of fresh whipped cream — a little goes a long way to make a dessert special — and you cannot beat its taste. Or, to lighten that up naturally and deliciously, I will fold in some plain Greek yogurt, for a topping that is wonderful with any fruit-based dessert."
-Ellie Krieger, RDN, nutritionist, TV personality and award-winning cookbook author
"Low-fat or nonfat cheese (excluding cottage cheese and cream cheese) just won't leave me satisfied with its stringy texture and 'meh' flavor, so I'll likely end up eating more, whereas if I eat the full fat, full flavor cheese that I really want, I'm more easily able to stop once I'm satisfied (often on much less)."
-Kaleigh McMordie, MCN, RDN of Lively Table
Blended Coffee Drinks
"I am an avid coffee drinker who enjoys a morning and afternoon java run, but the assorted-flavor, sugar-loaded, blended coffee drinks are definitely something that I stay away from. These blends can go up to 81 grams of sugar!!! That amount of sugar is the equivalent of drinking two cans of soda, roughly 20 teaspoons of pure sugar, which can spike your insulin and build fat around your waistline. Aside from the sugar content, these drinks can have up to 510 calories, which can be a whole meal for some people."
-Manuel Villacorta, M.S., R.D., author of Whole Body Reboot: The Peruvian Superfoods Diet
"The nacho cheese at any concession stand, like a football game, ballpark, or fair. The nacho cheese is just a sauce that usually doesn’t use real cheese, and it grosses me out, as it always looks the exact same and I know it is fake and cheaply made."
-Mitzi Dulan, Author of The Pinterest Diet and Team Nutritionist for the Kansas City Royals
"I’ve been a vegetarian for about 18 years. So, while I don’t eat meat, poultry or seafood, I do make sure to get my fill of quality protein to help keep myself fueled and my muscles strong! My favorite way to ensure I get protein is by eating eggs. One large egg offers 6 grams of protein for 70 calories — and the protein in eggs is one of the easiest for our bodies to utilize. I make sure to eat both the whites and the yolks, as the yolks provide important nutrients involved in brain health like choline, as well as more than 40 percent of the egg’s protein content. I love making omelets, as well as egg 'crepes' filled with ricotta and berries, and avocado deviled eggs."
-Amy Gorin, MS, RDN, owner of Amy Gorin Nutrition in the New York City area
Packaged Toaster Pastries
"The serving size for one toaster pastry, with most flavors, averages about 200 calories and 15 to 20 grams of sugar. But most people eat two pastries (which come in a typical package), doubling the calories and sugar. These toaster pastries also have little fiber and protein, two nutrients that should be included in a healthy breakfast."
-Jim White, R.D., CPT, Owner of Jim White Fitness and Nutrition Studios
"Although I admit that I enjoy the aroma and sounds of sizzling bacon, and I find it amazing that our country has such a fascination with this breakfast meat, I'm still happy, however, to take a pass on consuming it. Sixty-eight percent of bacon's calories come from fat, half of which is the saturated type. Each strip of bacon contains almost 200 milligrams of sodium, and most people don't stop at one strip. But hey — even though everyone should have a splurge now and then, it's not just the nutrient quality that bugs me about bacon. Bacon comes from the long layers of fat from the pig's belly, running parallel to the rind. Not a pretty picture ... and not on my plate."
-Bonnie Taub-Dix, RDN, owner of BetterThanDieting.com