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How to Navigate Diet Foods

How to Navigate Diet Foods

Looking around at society, the trends seem to indicate there are more people on a diet than not. Whether its the keto diet, the HCG diet, the Whole30 diet, or the Mediterranean diet, you are constantly bombarded by people telling you what to eat and what not to eat. Many food manufactures have addressed the dieting culture with prepackaged food or products marketed as “healthy” or “low fat,” but this advertising could be misleading. What you find at a store may be full of food additives, sugar, and other components that will damage your health.

Smoothie Bowls

A lot of people are turning to smoothies and smoothie bowls for a nutrient-packed start to their day or snack. It is true that a blend of fruits and vegetables will deliver a lot of nutrition, and with an added protein powder, a total health boost. However, purchasing these bowls or blends at juice shops or commercial chain restaurants often does more damage than good. The recipes are packed with fruit juices, sweetened yogurts, honey, and purees. These loaded with so much sugar that just one drink can skyrocket you past the daily recommended amount. You also blast through several hundred calories with very little to show for it. Blending your own smoothie using coconut milk, bananas, half a cup of Greek yogurt, some greens, and some nut butter is a much healthier option for a quick breakfast.

Veggie Straws and Chips

The idea of getting your vegetable servings in a tasty, crunchy chip sounds wonderful, but don’t get too excited. The labels will make claims about being made from real vegetables, the ingredient list may reveal that the product is made from a veggie powder. These powders have nowhere near the nutritional value of the real thing, and you may also find yourself contending with high sodium and sugar content. In the world of dieting, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably isn’t. The best way to get your veggies in is to snack on them throughout the day or add to your meal plate. Carrots, cherry tomatoes, and celery stick in hummus are tasty mid-day treat that holds as much crunch as your bag of chips.

Flavored Yogurt

Those interested in weight loss understand the importance of gut health. Probiotics are one of the most widely touted elements of creating a healthy microbiome, encouraging the growth of healthy bacteria. Good gut health can help defend your body from illness and disease and promote more efficient digestion of foods. Yogurt comes close to the top of the list for probiotic support, but most of the flavored versions are loaded with a lot of sugar. One cup could have as many as 20 grams. You should find a brand or flavor that has less than eight grams of sugar, but the lower the better. Plain Greek Yogurt can satisfy your probiotic needs in a healthy way, but so could kombucha and fresh sauerkraut.

Diet Anything

You will that just about anything you can find in the grocery store comes in a diet brand. Whether it’s called a diet soda or a low-fat snack cake, anything that is labeled as diet-friendly needs to be seriously evaluated before finding its way into the shopping cart. Take diet ice cream. While you can find a low-fat and low-calorie version of Rocky Road or Cookie Dough, you are still loading your body with artificial sweeteners. Though deemed a healthier option than straight sugar or any of its derivatives, your body still doesn’t need the extra encouragement to crave sweets. Low-fat options also tend to create less satiety, so you may be tempted to go back for another scoop or two. It may be better to enjoy a much smaller serving of the real stuff. The same can be said about diet sodas. They may be calorie-free, but they aren’t healthy. The artificial sweeteners can increase the number of unhealthy bacteria living in the gut, and it continues to tell your body to crave sweets or sugars.

Low-Calorie Snack Packs

For many people, falling off the diet wagon happens because of the challenges of time and resources for preparing healthy foods. 100-calorie snack packs seem like the answer to the problem, but these can slowly eat away at your dieting goals. Mentally, it is easier to eat one or two of these snacks because the calorie count makes you feel less guilty. However, it doesn’t matter if it is 100 or 300 calories of low-fat chocolate chip cookie bites. All of the calories are a waste since there is no protein, fiber, or anything nutritional to show for them. Don’t build a diet on quick, guilt-free sounding snacks. Create your own snack bags or make healthy treats from scratch and freeze them.


The dieting do’s and don’ts can get overwhelming, but there are ways to simplify your choices. When considering two options, don’t just go with what would be good. Opt for what is best.


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About the author

Dr. Constance Odom, MD

6 min read