7 Foods That Are Ruining Your Diet

Prevent diet sabotage by keeping an eye out for these seven foods.

Your intentions are healthy, but your choices may not be. Prevent diet sabotage by keeping an eye out for these seven foods.

1. Snack Mixes

Trail mix and other sweet-salty-crunchy concoctions may be handy snacks, but be careful that you’re not mindlessly munching on not-so-healthy versions. Many packaged varieties come filled with sugary candies and super-salty seasoned munchies. Some also contain highly processed sweeteners and partially hydrogenated oils (aka trans fats).

2. Diet Drinks

Calorie-free bevvies like soda, fruit drinks and sweetened teas may help reduce your calorie count but may still not be worth gulping. Recent research has linked the artificial sweetener aspartame to leukemia and lymphoma in both men and women. Consumption of just one diet soda a day may pose a risk. There’s also research that suggests increased intake of these faux sweeteners can increase cravings for other sugary foods.

3. Lowest-Calorie Yogurts

The lowest-calorie option isn’t always the healthiest. When it comes to junk food in disguise, yogurt may be one of the worst offenders. Some of the super low-cal yogurts cut back on sugar and fat but replace them with artificial sweeteners and thickeners – which doesn’t seem like a healthier choice to me. Check the ingredient list on your favorite brand.

4. Protein Powders

There seems to be mass appeal surrounding a protein-infused shake to start your day or end a workout; as it turns out, it’s not doing you much good. According to the CDC, many Americans consume more protein than they actually need. You might just be whirling a whole lot of extra calories into your day. Instead of expensive powders, opt for food-based options like yogurt or peanut butter to moderately boost the protein in your smoothies and shakes.

5. Oils

Plant-based oils like olive, safflower, grapeseed and canola can benefit heart health but still must be consumed in moderation. Any oil packs in about 120 calories and 14 grams of fat per serving. Pay attention to portions when cooking and drizzling, to avoid a steep increase in calories.

6.  Gluten-Free Baked Goods

Gluten-free is often mistaken for a healthier alternative, but a cookie is still a cookie even when made sans gluten. In fact, many gluten-free baked items are higher in calories than their wheat-filled counterparts. Folks who suffer from celiac disease must steer clear of gluten, but carefully reading the nutrition facts on food labels is good advice for everyone.

7. Whole-Grain Pasta

Whole-grain breads, pastas and cereals are certainly the best options to increase or boost fiber, vitamins and minerals, but portions still matter. Two cups of cooked whole-wheat pasta contains 420 calories (compare that with the 4-to-6-cup servings that most restaurants offer up). For the healthiest results, pair pasta with fresh veggies and protein from lean meats and legumes to make a meal most satisfying without going overboard.

Dana Angelo White, MS, RD, ATC, is a registered dietitian, certified athletic trainer and owner of Dana White Nutrition, Inc., which specializes in culinary and sports nutrition.

Next Up

8 Holiday Foods That Are Ruining Your Diet

These eight holiday foods can sabotage your healthy diet.

7 Foods to Include in a Weight Loss Diet

Don't waste your money on secret potions and potentially dangerous supplements to lose weight. Including these real foods in your diet is a safer way to lose weight.

7 Pantry Staples for a Pre-Diabetic Diet

Stock up on these foods to make eating for prediabetes easier.

7 Foods You Should Refrigerate

You might buy juice, natural peanut butter and ketchup at room temperature, but be sure to keep it in the fridge after it's opened.

7 Foods to Fight PMS

Premenstrual syndrome affects an estimated 40% of American women. Studies have found that eating certain foods may help decrease those pesky symptoms.

7 Foods Nutritionists Won’t Eat

Find out which seven foods nutritionists avoid eating at all costs.

Food Fight: Regular Soda vs. Diet Soda

Should you go for the sugar-filled soda or the one made with artificial stuff? Find out which is better to sip on when you're in the mood for soda.

Ask HE: Are Food Combining Diets Legit?

Learn more about the idea behind food combining diets and if they really work to help you lose weight.

7 Health Food Trends for 2014

Which ingredients will be in health food stores everywhere? And what will restaurant menus be peddling? Here's the scoop for 2014.

7 New Foods on the Market

Here are seven new trendy foods you’ll find at the market.