5 Unhealthy Diet Foods to Ditch Now

We all have staples we turn to when we’re trying to slim down—some readers tell me they switch to frozen, low-fat dinners, for example. Truth? Hearing about habits like these makes me cringe a little, because I know they’re not as healthy as people think they are. Consider leaving these popular “skinny” foods out of your shopping cart:

Diet soda

Though it has fewer calories and far less sugar than regular soda, diet soda may actually keep you from losing weight. A study last year found that people who drank two or more diet sodas a day had waist size increases six times (yes, you read that right) greater than people who didn’t drink the diet stuff. Experts don’t know exactly why, but suspect that the sweet taste may prime your body to crave more sweets and may wind up overeating on other unhealthy food later on.

Smoothies

Although they can be packed with healthy vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients, smoothies can also carry loads of calories, fat, and sugar. Make sure your smoothie is filled with whole fruits and vegetables and low fat milk or milk alternatives. Skip those laden with peanut butter, chocolate, or fruit syrups.  If you’re substituting a smoothie for a meal, stick to 350 to 400 calories; if you’re having one as a snack, it should be 200 calories or fewer.

Frozen “healthy” dinners

These foods are high in sodium and sugar, as well as other chemicals you don’t need. They do teach you about portion control, but many dieters find themselves starving and bingeing on snacks later. A smarter option: Stick to a realistic portion of a real food, like whole-wheat pasta (about 2 ounces) or a grilled chicken breast (about 3 ounces), then pile your plate with a mountain of veggies, which will bulk up your stomach and prevent post-meal hunger pangs. 

Flavored yogurt

Yogurt is filled with calcium and protein that’s great satiating hunger, but flavored yogurt can also carry loads of extra sugar and calories that sabotage your healthy eating and prime your palate to crave sweet flavors. Try plain yogurt and adding in a small teaspoon of honey for sweetness.

Baked chips

Although these are a good alternative to saturated fat-laden regular chips, baked chips usually have tons of sodium, sugar, and empty calories—and lack filling fiber. If you’re in the mood for something crunchy, try dipping fresh, raw veggies into a healthy dip, like hummus, or plain rice cakes with two teaspoons of peanut butter.

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