These 5 Foods Are Not as Healthy as You Think

By Nutritional Weight & Wellness Staff
May 18, 2021

protein-bar.jpgDiet “advice” and health trends come and go, but not here at Nutritional Weight & Wellness. We believe, and always will, that real food (the kind your grandparents ate!) is the key to good health. We’ve seen good nutrition (real food, real food!) turn around the health of our clients, everything from weight loss, Crohn’s relief, overcoming anxiety, Rheumatoid Arthritis pain gone, along with no more chronic migraines and brain fog.

However, all the diet news can leave people confused and unsure what’s considered “healthy” or not. To cut through the confusion we polled a few of our nutritionists on foods their clients think are healthy but are actually anything but.

  • dressing.jpgLow-fat salad dressings are full of chemicals, processed fats and most are also loaded with sugar to make them taste good. A trifecta that will spike your blood-sugar, impair your cells and make your liver work overtime. You’re trying to eat more veggies (yay!) in a salad, but then by loading it down with bad quality dressings like these we’re hurting more than we’re helping. It’s SO easy to create your own dressing, here are four simple recipes to get you started. – Melanie Beasley, RD, LD
  • Popcorn is not as healthy as we’ve been told. It’s a favorite snack for many of my clients and one that’s hard to cut back on. The problem is, it spikes your blood sugar—three cups of popcorn turns into about 4.5 tsp of sugar in your body! Plus, that’s assuming you’re eating only three cups, which never happens since a typical bag of microwave popcorn is 10 cups (15 tsp of sugar) and think about the serving size at the movies (pre-COVID) … yikes. Post-popcorn, the blood sugar spike will turn into a blood sugar crash which could lead to cravings, anxiety, lack of focus, fatigue or a headache. At that point you will probably eat more carbs as a pick me up and the cycle continues. (Also, regardless of the sugar, many individuals just don’t tolerate any form of corn very well.) Plus, when you read “butter flavoring” in microwave popcorn bags and the movie theater kind, just think: chemicals. Something we should all be aiming to cut out of our diet. All that said, if you’re going to have popcorn be mindful of the amount, pop it yourself and add real butter or coconut oil. The healthy fat will help to reduce the blood sugar spike. – Britni Vincent, RD, LD
  • Energy/Protein Bars are practically falling off the shelves, there are so many options on the market today. With bars it’s super important to read the food label on the back to make sure you are choosing one made from whole food ingredients. Unfortunately, most labels make it clear that many energy bars are really just candy bars in disguise.  From the ingredient list, ask yourself, where are those grams of carbohydrate/sugar coming from? Is it from whole foods sources like dates or from refined sugar and corn syrup? Are the fats coming from whole food sources like nuts and seeds? Or are the fats coming from hydrogenated oils? I recommend you avoid energy bars being marketed as ‘low carb’ or ‘low sugar’ before a workout. These often contain artificial sweeteners, sugar alcohols, and synthetic fibers that can cause gastrointestinal issues (GI) issues (think bloating, gas and diarrhea) mid-workout. What a nightmare!  To avoid GI from eating an energy bar, avoid bars with hydrogenated oils, high fructose corn syrup, added sugar, artificial sweeteners, sugar alcohols, and synthetic fibers like corn fiber and inulin/chicory root. So what can you have in a protein bar? Read this great post from one of my colleagues about How to Pick a Quality Protein Bar that details exactly what to look for. – Alyssa Krejci, RD, LD, LMNT
  • Diet Soda hopefully isn’t too much of a surprise, but in short a can of diet soda is absolutely full of chemicals as well as artificial sweeteners. Add the food coloring onto the list, not good for our bodies because dyes have been linked to behavior problems and difficulty concentrating. Nothing about diet soda is real, which means the body has to process chemicals and the artificial sweeteners to get rid of it all, which is a burden on the liver and prevents it from doing its main job of keeping our body running smoothly, processing fat, keeping metabolism moving, etc. – Melanie Beasley, RD, LD
  • sportsdrinks.jpgGatorade (and most “Sports Drinks”) markets itself as an electrolyte drink but it’s missing magnesium, chloride, and calcium, which are all key in muscle recovery and hydration. It only contains sodium and potassium. Plus, this is shocking, a 32oz bottle of orange Gatorade has 45g of sugar – that’s just about 11 teaspoons worth! Excess sugar consumption can dehydrate you in a similar way as salt. As sugar increases, water moves out of the cells to equalize the amount of sugar inside the cell and outside. It’s that loss of water from inside the cells that causes dehydration. Plus it contains food dyes, which as Mel touched on above, have been linked to behavior problems and difficulty concentrating.  – Teresa Wagner, RD, LD

For more information on what real food nutrition really means, check out these resources:

Inspire: “I came to Nutritional Weight & Wellness looking to lose weight and improve my digestion, but I also learned valuable lessons about how food affects our brains. When JoAnn told me that the Red Bull I was addicted to was a brain killer, it really struck me. My grandma has Alzheimer’s, and knowing that the nutritional choices I am making now could help my brain health in the future is priceless.” – Anastasia’s Story

About the author

This blog content was written by a staff member at Nutritional Weight & Wellness who is passionate about eating real food.

View all posts by Nutritional Weight & Wellness Staff


Sue E Allen
what a helpful article with interesting facts from your Dieticians. All of your Dieticians are very well trained and very knowledgeable in their field.
May 18, 2021 at 11:16 am


We're so glad you found this article helpful!

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