A nutritionist is someone who has a degree in health and nutrition, while a registered dietitian undergoes a special program to receive a health certification. Both help others set diet plans and work with health complications. It’s no wonder why health enthusiasts crave their advice.
While registered dietitians and nutritionists often recommend healthy choices, there are plenty of foods and drinks that they don’t recommend. Some foods are even disguised as “healthy” options. Don’t be fooled; nutritionists and dietitians recommend that you avoid these foods.
Avoid Non-Fat And Low-Fat Salad Dressings
Like peanut butter, low-fat salad dressings are the wrong way to go. The fats in most salad dressings are healthy. “The fat, fat, especially something like olive oil, can actually help you better absorb nutrients from the vegetables in your salad,” explains registered dietitian Tanya Freirich.
On her blog, registered dietitian Lily Nichols says that the ingredients replacing fat are not healthy. “Aside from water, corn syrup is the main ingredient,” she details. Remember that eating fat doesn’t make you gain weight, especially with healthy fats in salad dressings.
Choose Your Cheese Wisely
Cheese-lovers may be shocked to hear what nutritionists have to say. Dr. Neal Barnard, the author of The Cheese Trap, calls cheese fattening, habit-forming, and terrible for your health. However, nutritionist and registered dietitian Samantha Lynch doesn’t believe that all cheeses are bad. If you choose wisely, she says, you can pick healthy cheeses.
Lynch recommends feta, goat cheese, and cottage cheese as healthy, low-fat options. Katherine Tallmadge, a dietitian from the American Dietetic Association, warns against buying cheese with over 7% fat. Sadly, this includes most hard cheeses.
Pop-Tarts? No Thank You
Every Pop-Tart contains 16 grams of sugar and 200 calories. That’s just not worth it according to nutritionist and registered dietitian Ha Nguyen. She adds that most of the ingredients are not healthy. “If you simply look at the first few ingredients, they consist of refined sugars including corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, dextrose, and sugar,” she says.
That said, eating a sugary breakfast is better than no breakfast at all, explains Registered dietitian and nutritionist Elisabeth D’Alto. If you eat a Pop-Tart, D’Alto recommends pairing it with a glass of milk for more protein.
Forget Fruit Juices, Even Expensive “Healthy” Ones
“The alarming trend of expensive juices is concerning,” says registered dietitian and nutritionist Andy De Santis. Although fruit juices provide vitamins and minerals, they also contain a lot of sugar. With fruit juice, you’ll drink a lot of calories without feeling any fuller, explains De Santis.
According to research, fruit juice is just as bad as soda, even 100% real fruit juice. In the Journal of the American Medical Association, researchers reported that drinking fruit juice consistently raises your chance of death by 24%. It’s not worth your time or money.
Throw Out Certain Rice Cakes
Crunchy, light, and low in calories, rice cakes seem like a perfectly healthy snack. But depending on the brand you buy, they could be harmful. Registered dietitian and nutritionist Frances Largeman-Roth recommends steering clear of the ones with chocolate drizzle or other decorations. Plus, avoid rice cakes made with white, refined flour.
Although rice cakes have low calories, they aren’t nutrient-dense like fruit and vegetables, says dietitian Dr. Kelly Pritchett. If you can find rice cakes made with brown rice or quinoa, go for those instead. They’ll have more fiber and a bit more protein.
Don’t Cook With Canola Oil
Although canola oil is popular, it’s not the healthiest option. As a partially hydrogenated oil, canola is highly processed and bleached, says functional diagnostic nutritionist Cate Ritter. This strips canola of its healthy nutrients, such as omega-3 fatty acids.
Dr. Guy Crosby of Harvard adds that canola oil has a similar amount of healthy fats to olive oil. However, there are health concerns about its processing. Partially hydrogenated oils produce an unhealthy solvent called hexane and result in more trans fats. Why use canola oil when you can switch to olive, avocado, or coconut oils?
Flavored Fruit Yogurts Aren’t Always Healthy
Fruit in yogurt doesn’t always make it healthier. According to nutritionists, many fruit-flavored yogurts are packed with sugar and carbohydrates. Amy Plano, a registered dietitian, wrote on her blog that some fruit-flavored yogurts have over 30 grams of added sugar!
“It is basically dessert for breakfast,” says nutritionist and exercise physiologist Rachel Straub. According to her, almost 50% of the calories in these yogurts come from sugar. Always check the ingredients before buying yogurt, and aim for Greek yogurt or low-fat options if you have high cholesterol.
Skim Milk Isn’t As Healthy As It Advertises
Despite its name, skim milk doesn’t skim on much. Registered dietitian Frances Largeman-Roth says that skim milk replaces fat with sugar and less protein. Plus, we need the fats in milk to build muscles and aid our nervous system, adds nutrition consultant Karen Brennan.
Evidence suggests that skim milk can also make people gain weight. In one Virginia study, kids who drank skim milk were 80% more likely to become overweight. Because skim milk is less filling and more sugary, it prompts people to eat more.
Mix Up The Margarine
Although margarine has fewer fats than butter, it still isn’t the healthiest option. Terese Scollard, regional clinical nutrition manager for Providence Nutrition Services, says that margarine is full of trans fats and hydrogenated oils. The American Heart Association advises against trans fats for the sake of your heart.
But these are mainly old school margarine, adds registered dietitian Kimberly London. “Non-hydrogenated margarine is the best choice, made with unsaturated fats like soybean and canola oils,” she advises. Before you buy a tub of margarine, check the ingredients for soybean oil, palm oil, or hydrogenated oils.
No Need For Fat-Free Peanut Butter
Less fat means healthier, right? When it comes to peanut butter, not so much. According to registered dietitian Keri Gans, fat-free peanut butter only removes 0.5 grams of saturated fat and ten calories. In return, it adds more artificial sweeteners and vegetable oils, which are less healthy for you.
Plus, the unsaturated fats in peanut butter are healthy for you. “Foods that contain these fats protect our heart, lower bad cholesterol while raising good cholesterol, and fight inflammation in our bodies,” says dietitian Cristina Rivera.
Diet Soda Doesn’t Fit Into Diets
Soda isn’t the healthiest option, but diet soda offers a healthier option for fewer calories. Although diet soda can help people transition away from sodas, they’re still not the healthiest option. According to a 2015 study from the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, diet soda drinkers build on three times more weight over nine years than non-soda drinkers.
“If you want to consume something with zero calories, water is your best choice,” says registered dietitian Keri Gans. She adds that diet sodas should not be considered a health food for the number of preservatives and chemicals inside of them.
Hot Dogs Are A “Sometimes” Food
Hot dogs are a “sometimes” food, says registered dietitian and nutrition professor Katie Ferraro. As processed meats, hot dogs are preserved with too much sodium and fat. In the International Journal of Cancer, researchers wrote that hot dogs and other processed meats increase your risk of cancer.
Kristin Kirkpatrick, a wellness manager, and registered dietitian at the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute, also warns against “healthier” hot dogs that have gone on the market. “Organic junk food is still junk food,” she told Healthline.
Instant Ramen Isn’t Worth It
Depending on the brand, instant ramen packets may contain over 1,000 mg of sodium. That’s almost half of your daily recommended sodium, according to the U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Carbs and salt are all you’ll get from instant ramen, says dietitian Abbey Sharp. There’s little to no protein and fiber to fill you up.
The Centers for Disease Control warns that over-consuming sodium can make people dehydrated, bloated, gain weight, and even remember less. Plus, instant ramen contains preservatives that are dangerous to your health, says registered dietitian and nutritionist Jim White.
Keep An Eye Out For Certain Canned Soups
Many canned soups are preserved with high amounts of sodium, which could have health consequences, says nutritionist and dietitian Tracey Lesht. “Too much sodium can put you at risk for health conditions such as hypertension and cardiovascular disease,” she explains.
However, registered dietitian and nutritionist Lisa Young believes that canned soups aren’t as bad as their reputation. She recommends choosing canned soups that don’t exceed 350 mg of sodium. If these soups don’t have BPA and offer at least five grams of protein, you can eat them guilt-free.
Double-Check Your Boxed Cereals
Although boxed cereals are convenient, many nutritionists steer clear of them. “As a dietitian, I never recommend dry cereals to clients,” says nutritionist Gisela Bouvier. She explains that most dry cereals are packed with sugar and carbs, with little added fiber.
That said, you can still eat cereal if you know what to look for. In an interview with TODAY, registered dietitian Jackie London advised people to keep an eye on sugar. Look for labels that say “good source of,” because under FDA laws, that claim must offer at least 10% of your daily nutritional value in that mineral.
Put Away Processed Deli Meats
Processed meats may be convenient, but they’re less healthy than fresh meat. According to nutritionist Megan Faletra, deli meats contain preservatives that inflame the body. “[They] have even been scientifically linked to increased risk in colon cancer,” she told The Healthy.
Faletra is referencing a study in the International Journal of Epidemiology. According to the research, every 25-gram serving of processed meat increases the risk of colorectal cancer by 19%. That’s equal to one slice of ham. Take the nutritionist’s advice and buy non-preservative meat.
How To Substitute Flavored Coffee Creamers
Although flavored creamers are delicious, they aren’t the healthiest option for your coffee. According to registered dietitian Caitlin Bus, these creamers are packed with unnecessary fat, sugar, and calories. For instance, Nestle vanilla creamer provides 35 calories and five grams of sugar per tablespoon. However, many people add more than one tablespoon to their coffee.
Bus recommends giving your coffee some creaminess with 2% milk. Then, add flavor with honey, cinnamon, nutmeg, unsweetened cocoa powder, or a dash of vanilla extract. That’ll add plenty of flavor without the sugar bomb.
There’s No Benefit To Eating Donuts
Donuts are “empty calories”– treats that provide calories that aren’t filling or nutritional. Nutritionist and wellness coach Jamie Logie says that donuts will only give you a sugar high (and subsequent crash). Plus, the refined flour used adds a lot of carbohydrates and is high-glycemic.
That said, there’s no need to choose a “healthy” donut, says registered dietitian Amanda Li. Donuts should be seen as a treat, and since all are inherently unhealthy, there’s no need to pick the flavor with the lowest calories or sugar.
Pretzels Provide Nothing
Although pretzels are delicious, they offer no substance as a snack. “Pretzels are a snack food made from enriched flour, which provides very little fiber and overall very little nutritional benefit,” explains registered dietitian Kate Patton. Plus, there’s no protein to fill you up.
Cara Walsh, a New York nutritionist and dietitian, states that pretzels are just simple carbs that convert to sugar inside the body. Because they contain no protein, many people tend to over-eat them, Walsh added. In short, there’s no benefit to eating pretzels–only downsides.
No One Knows What’s In Energy Drinks
Although some energy drinks advertise healthy nutrients such as electrolytes and vitamins, we still don’t know what’s in most of them. “The brands almost never share the[nutrient] dosage,” says registered dietitian and nutrition expert Shawn Wells. He adds that although energy drinks provide some nutrients, they also contain inflammatory ingredients.
“They have just lots of caffeine and stimulants,” says nutritionist and dietitian Keith Ayoob. “That’s not energy–it’s speed.” People who consistently have energy drinks are at a high risk of weight gain, according to a 2018 study in The Anatolian Journal of Cardiology.