Foods that sabotage your diet

Foods that sabotage your diet

When you’re trying to lose a few pounds or just clean up your diet, it can feel like there are temptations everywhere you look. Doughnuts at the office, cake at the birthday party, and that adorable Girl Scout peddling cookies on your doorstep all threaten to throw you off track. However, these temptations are not the only dangerous ones.

There are much sneakier culprits lurking right in your kitchen. The problem is that you think some of these foods are healthy. Foods that parade themselves as health foods only to send your blood sugar skyrocketing are the real issue. Here are just a few of the foods that will sabotage your diet.

Whole wheat bread

Ordering your sandwich on whole wheat bread instead of white feels like the healthy choice, but you really need to read the labels. Many whole wheat varieties contain just enough grains to be considered “whole grain,” but have almost no nutrition left.

“Whole wheat products can sabotage weight loss goals,” Jackie Arnett Elnahar, a registered dietitian, told me. “Although whole wheat sounds healthy, you should make sure that you are buying a whole wheat item that has at least three grams of fiber.”

Flavored yogurts

The women in those flavored yogurt commercials always look like they’re having so much fun. Look, I’m having key lime pie for dessert! However, she would probably be better off just having a bite of the real thing. “Flavored yogurts look and market themselves as healthy, but many flavored yogurts have additives, starch, and high fructose corn syrup,” Arnett told me. “This all leads to excess sugar with some yogurts having more 15 grams of sugar! Parfaits can also be culprits especially when non fresh fruit is used.”

Many yogurt brands tell you about their high protein and probiotic content, but that might not be worth it. “Most yogurt brands contain very high amounts of sugar,” Scott Michael Schreiber, a chiropractic physician, acupuncturist, and nutritionist told me. “Many consume yogurt for the beneficial bacteria found within it. However, in many instances, the bacteria is dead and the amount of sugar far outweighs any benefit.”

Rebecca Lewis, in-house dietitian at HelloFresh agreed. “If you do enjoy yogurt, opt for a non-flavored one that has less than 12 grams of sugar per serving,” she recommended. “Instead add the sweetness from fresh fruits you choose yourself! Bonus, Greek yogurt is about two times higher in protein and often half the sugar of regular yogurt.” Arnett also recommended buying plain yogurt and adding the flavor yourself. “Making your own parfaits at home with unflavored Greek yogurt, unsweetened granola, and fresh fruit is best,” she shared with me.

Fruit juice

Your morning orange juice may be worse for you than the bacon and eggs. Juice is essentially straight sugar going right into our bloodstreams. “Fruit juice is another ‘healthy’ item that contains a ton of fructose,” Dr. Schreiber told me. “Since all the fiber has been removed, there is no protection against rapidly rising blood sugar.”

I’ve always known to stay away from the fruit juices on the grocery store shelves, but I thought that buying a juicer would surely be a healthier choice. Not so according to weight loss coach and Registered Dietitian Bonnie Klauber. “When we juice fruits and vegetables, we lose the fiber and many vitamins and minerals that provide health benefits and keep us full. Liquids tend to digest quickly, meaning that we get hungry again soon,” Klauber told me.” Instead of drinking orange juice, eat the whole orange instead!”

HelloFresh Dietitian Lewis also explained that even a small amount of fruit juice can be too much. “Even with a 100 percent fruit juice, what you end up consuming is a high-calorie and high-sugar drink, even with small four-ounce portions,” said Lewis. “Instead, opt for water and eat a piece of fruit or blend the fruit into a smoothie you make yourself!”

Agave nectar

Agave nectar certainly sounds healthier than sugar. Go ahead and eat five of these whole wheat, agave nectar, cacao nib cookies. They’re healthy! However, it seems like agave is just sugar by another name.

“Agave is marketed as a healthy alternative to sugar. However, agave nectar is so highly processed that it can actually end up being worse for you than table sugar,” Dr. Schreiber said. “It is almost completely devoid of all nutrients, and in some cases is composed of 90 percent fructose. Most high fructose corn syrup is between 50 and 60 percent.”

Yikes! Rather than bingeing on “healthy” desserts, go for a few bites of the real thing. You’ll be more satisfied and your body will actually be able to process that fuel.

Salad dressing

Nothing screams, “I’m on a diet,” more than ordering a salad at dinner. While everyone else is indulging in cheeseburgers and pizza, you’re rolling that cherry tomato around with your fork, willing it to turn into a mozzarella stick. However, the salad dressing may be just as bad for you as whatever your friends are having.

“As a nutritionist, I often find salad dressings are sabotaging many weight loss efforts,” Millie Shedorick, a registered dietitian, told me. “Only two tablespoons of most regular dressings contain approximately 200 calories of just fat. Many salads contain more than two tablespoons of dressing, adding an extra 200 calories or more.”

So what if you really do love salads? You can still have what you want, but just be smart about how you order it. “When ordering salads or sandwiches, always ask for ‘no dressing’ or to serve it on the side so you are aware of what you are adding,” recommended Shedorick. “You can squeeze a lemon on your salad or use vinegar for no added calories, or try a low fat dressing for half the calories.”

Peanut butter

I adore peanut butter. I start most mornings by stirring a heaping spoonful of it into my oatmeal. I need the protein, right? Well after doing a little research, I may start measuring my spoonful.

“One tablespoon is 100 calories, which barely covers a half of an English muffin. A peanut butter and jelly sandwich contains approximately four tablespoons or 400 calories just for the peanut butter,” Shedorick told me. “Many people are eating it right out of the jar or putting it on celery for a healthy snack and do not realize how many calories they are quickly adding. Instead, dip celery in low-fat dressing or measure one tablespoon of peanut butter and enjoy.”

Warning: I’ve actually measured one tablespoon of peanut butter. You’re going to be sorely disappointed.


Nuts are a great snack for anyone trying to eat healthier. They’re high in protein, which keeps you full, while also being incredibly easy to grab on the go. However, they are calorie-dense, so it is important to pay attention to portions.

“Nuts and trail mixes are super healthy, but people are eating too much,” explained Shedorick. “A quarter of a cup of nuts is about 200 calories. Many people are grabbing handfuls throughout the day or sitting with the jar.”

To make sure you’re not inadvertently eating multiple servings in one sitting, try pre-packing your snacks for the day. “Pre-portion nuts in a ziplock bag with a one-fourth cup measuring cup, or buy pre-portioned packages so you know when you are done,” recommended Shedorick.