7 Surprisingly Unhealthy Diet Foods

You hear the term 'diet foods' and automatically think it's a healthy option. Don't be fooled; many of them are surprisingly unhealthy.
unhealthy diet foods

If you think these surprisingly unhealthy diet foods are helping you reduce fat and calories, you might want to think again. Sometimes, eating the fuller-fat version of a food is actually the healthier option because to get the fat and calories out of food, it needs to be processed, and science consistently tells us that’s not always a healthy option.

If you’ve grown a fondness for one of the foods on the list, you might still eat it occasionally, but as with everything, do it in moderation. Having a diet soda once a week if you’re dead tired isn’t going to be the end-all of your health journey, but if you find yourself drinking one (or more) every day, you might want to consider some new habits. You’ll find that returning to the real deal will help you feel better – and if you’re worried about adding extra calories, simply get up and get moving more often. Getting more active will benefit you in many ways – not just for weight loss attempts. 

Turkey Bacon

Turkey Bacon

Healthier diet food options are available, so be sure you check the packaging and read the labels. But in general, turkey bacon, which is obviously not bacon, consists of mechanically separated turkey parts ground together, shaped, colored, and artificially flavored to become bacon-like. As a result, two ounces of turkey bacon has more than 1,900 milligrams of sodium, compared to 1,300 milligrams in pork, making it an unhealthy diet food. Pork bacon also provides more vitamin B complex nutrients and selenium (a mineral that activates certain cancer-preventing proteins). Why sacrifice nutrients, flavor, and satisfaction to save about 25 calories? Go ahead and enjoy a slice or two of lean, lower-sodium, center-cut bacon.

Fat-Free Dressing

Salad Dressings

Salad dressing is supposed to be a tasty combination of vinegar (which helps control blood sugar) and plant oils (full of essential fatty acids and sometimes antioxidants). However, food companies have altered this perfect blend by removing the oil and then adding high fructose corn syrup and emulsifying agents to create fat-free dressings. But guess what? The body’s digestive tract needs oil to absorb nutrients from the veggies in your salad! Control the oil and sugar by whipping up your own tasty dressings, and avoid this prime unhealthy diet food.

Rice Cakes

Rice Cakes

This iconic diet snack of the 1980s remains a versatile yet bland substitute for bread or crackers. Rice cakes are low in calories and fat but make the unhealthy diet foods list for a reason. They are 80% carbohydrates with a glycemic index rating as high as 91 (pure glucose has a rating of 100). A small baked potato, on the other hand, is only 23% carbohydrate, which won’t cause a blood sugar spike and will leave you more satisfied.

Low-Fat and Fat-Free Margarine


First of all, margarine is not natural. Hydrogen is added to vegetable oil to make a semi-solid spread. The more solid margarine is, the more trans fat it contains–as much as 3 grams per tablespoon. The artificial ingredients and synthetic vitamins in these butter substitutes do nothing to boost your immune system. On the other hand, real butter is one of the best dietary sources of vitamin A and is rich in selenium. Because it is full fat, butter tastes better and is more satisfying. Ditch artificial spreads and add extra virgin olive oil and a handful of nuts to your daily diet to reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, dementia, and cancer.

Diet Soda

Diet Sodas

When you drink a diet soda, you’re not digesting any calories–but you aren’t doing your body any favors either. Artificial sweeteners like aspartame and saccharin trigger insulin, which sends your body into fat-storage mode and leads to weight gain. This is just one of the many reasons diet sodas make the list of unhealthy diet foods. In addition to harmful artificial sweeteners, diet sodas contain citric acid, which weakens tooth enamel over time. Try adding superfruit juice concentrates to mineral water for a healthier alternative.

Granola Bars

Granola Bars

Once thought to be the epitome of a natural healthy snack, most granola bars are anything but. High fructose corn syrup (linked to weight gain and insulin resistance), hydrogenated oils (elevates cholesterol levels), and monosodium glutamate (MSG) are just a few of the many unhealthy ingredients packed into these deceptive bars. If your granola bars don’t contain oats, nuts, fruits, and at least 4 grams of fiber, you might as well eat a candy bar.

Low-Calorie Frozen Meals

Frozen Meals

Who doesn’t want a meal that is portion-controlled, low-calorie, and ready in five minutes or less? And, unlike most items on this list, low-calorie frozen meals aren’t full of added sugar or saturated fat. So why are they considered an unhealthy diet food? Because these meals are loaded with sodium and simply unsatisfying. Most of these meals contain 700-1800 milligrams of sodium (more than 1/3 of the daily recommended allowance), have very little nutritional value, and lack taste–which means you’ll be snacking within an hour.

Avoid these unhealthy diet foods by choosing fresh, whole foods over processed and occasionally giving your body the bacon it craves!

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