It's officially a brand-new year, and for many people, that means one thing: resolutions. Losing weight, eating healthier, or just generally focusing on wellness is, without a doubt, one of the most common resolutions, which means there are plenty of people looking to make healthier choices when it comes to their daily meals.
The problem is, if you're not too knowledgeable about nutrition, things can get a little tricky. Perhaps you're under the impression that something is healthy, so you begin incorporating a fair amount of it in your diet. However, you aren't seeing the results that you thought you would, or perhaps, you're just not feeling as good as you thought you would. Before you blame yourself, take a second to look at the label and the nutritional information of the food you've been consuming—there are many things that seem healthy and are even advertised as healthy options that really aren't the best choice.
Now, that's not to say all of these items are totally unhealthy. With a few tweaks, there are some that can actually be a really good choice. However, you need to be aware of all the information and can't simply eat any version of them you come across—because they're definitely not all created equal.
In order to stick with your healthy eating goals, you need to empower yourself with a little bit of information about what's truly a healthy choice—that's why we've pulled together these 20 'healthy' foods that are actually surprisingly bad for you.
20 Flavored Yogurt
Yogurt is a great addition to a healthy diet—it's creamy, it's delicious, and it helps your gut health thanks to all those probiotics. And yogurts are absolutely packed with protein, which is another plus. However, when you're looking for yogurt, try to steer clear of the flavored versions. Many flavored yogurts have a ton of sugar in them, especially if they're a type with a lower percentage of fat. You absolutely don't need to eat it plain, but you'll probably be better off getting plain yogurt and adding a drizzle of natural sweeter or a bit of fruit rather than getting the pre-flavored versions.
19 Smoothie Bowls
A smoothie bowl isn't inherently bad for you. If it's a reasonable size and has great ingredients, it can actually be a great addition to your diet. The problem is, many smoothie bowls are absolutely packed with sugar thanks to the juices, sweetened yogurt, honey, and other components—and many of them come in massive portions. So, while none of the ingredients are all that bad on their own, when they're combined, you're likely slurping down hundreds of calories and a load of sugar. If you really love smoothie bowls, make sure to always make your own so you know exactly what's going in it.
18 Low-Calorie Ice Cream
Sometimes, when you've been eating super healthy, you really just need a treat — and for many people, that's a bowl of delicious ice cream. While there's nothing wrong with treating yourself every now and then, automatically going for the low-fat version isn't actually the healthiest way to go. While you might think you're making a healthier choice than if you picked the regular kind, most low-fat versions actually have a lot of artificial sweeteners and flavors that make it taste so delicious. Instead, when you're craving a frozen treat, just have a small portion of a full-fat version—you'll be more satisfied, and you'll avoid all those pesky artificial ingredients.
17 Beef Jerky
Many people assume that beef jerky is essentially just dried meat, which means it would make a great snack if you're looking to add a little more protein into your diet. However, the problem is that many jerky options are absolutely packed with sodium in order to preserve the meat, which means your sodium intake will be off the charts, and your body will probably respond by bloating like crazy. If you love a carnivorous snack, try your best to find low sodium options—they're less common, but they're out there! That way, you get all the healthy protein with none of the additives.
16 Fruit Juice
For many people, fruit juice is a natural replacement when they're trying to give up soda. And sure, most fruit juices don't have the same amount of chemicals as soda, so it's a slightly different option. However, it still isn't a healthy option—fruit juice is absolutely loaded with sugar. You're essentially taking all the fiber and bulk out of fruit and just consuming the sweet, sugary juices, which isn't nearly as healthy as you might think. A great tip if you're a soda drinker is to dilute a small amount of fruit juice with regular club soda for a fizzy, fruity beverage.
15 Trail Mix
Okay, if you see a trail mix that has additions like chocolate or candies, you probably know that's not the healthiest choice. However, you need to be careful even with versions that look healthy. For example, most trail mixes have nuts that are roasted in oil and salt, which can take a super healthy snack and make it pretty bad for you. And the addition of a ton of dried fruit can also be problematic, as it causes the sugar content of your snack to skyrocket. If you truly love the variety of trail mix, there's a simple solution: make your own!
Granola can be a great way to add a bit of crunch and texture to your yogurt and can be a great source of healthy fats. However, again, not all granola is created equal. Many brands include additions like dried fruit and even chocolate that can pack your granola with sugar, and in order to make things taste good, many also use a ton of oil when roasting the components. Oats are a great addition to any diet, and some of the components that are mixed into granola can be good, but it's always better to make your own so that you know exactly what you're putting into it.
13 Microwave Popcorn
Popcorn is one of the best snacks out there if you're looking to make healthier choices. It's got fiber, it's got crunch, and it's easy to customize and flavor however you'd like. If you're picking up microwave popcorn, though, that's an entirely different matter. While air-popped popcorn is a great choice, microwave popcorn is often packed with sodium and even a ton of chemicals that you definitely don't want to be ingesting. If you're a huge popcorn fan, just learn how to make your own air-popped version that you can flavor a different way every time and enjoy.
12 Light Salad Dressing
Many brands offer salad dressings in a regular version and a light version, so when you're trying to make healthier choices, you should always reach for the light version, right? Well, not exactly. When a lot of the fat is removed from a product, they have to replace it with something, and that something is usually sugar and chemicals and other additives. We're not saying you should go for the super creamy dressings, but you're better off drizzling your salad with a little homemade vinaigrette made with extra virgin olive oil for a dose of healthy fats without all the preservatives.
11 Veggie Chips
Okay, speaking of crunchy things, let's talk veggie chips. Again, many people feel that by reaching for these rather than regular potato chips, they're making a healthy choice. After all, they're veggies—how unhealthy could they be? Well, while veggie chips do contain some actual veggies, they're super processed and in such minimal amounts that it really doesn't count. If you're looking for something crunchy to pair with your favorite dip, you're much better off going for raw veggies. You can even cut them into fun shapes or slice them really thin if that's part of the appeal of chips for you.
10 Energy Bars And Protein Bars
Look, we get it—sometimes, you really just want a snack on the go, and you don't have time to prep anything. In situations like that, you might assume that an energy bar or protein bar is a great pick. After all, the packaging boasts everything from a healthy dose of fiber to a protein punch. However, in actuality, the vast majority of those bars aren't much better than eating a chocolate bar. Sure, they may have more protein, but they're also absolutely filled with sugar and a ton of artificial flavors in order to recreate those decadent flavors. You're better off reaching for real food, like some cheese or yogurt, for a quick snack.
9 Gluten-Free Snacks
Many people nowadays associate gluten-free eating with healthy eating. After all, there are a ton of gluten-free foods like vegetables and quinoa that are super healthy. And many of your favorite treats are filled with gluten. So, naturally, a gluten-free choice is a healthy choice, right? Not exactly. Many of the gluten-free snack foods on the market replace the gluten with chemicals and added sugars in order to create a product that still tastes good. It's fine if you're a Celiac, and it's okay to consume in moderation, but a gluten-free cookie is still just a cookie at the end of the day; it's not any healthier than your gluten-packed favorites.
8 Dried Fruit
Many people view dried fruit as a great snack option when they're trying to eat healthier. And yes, dried fruit may be a little better than chowing down on a candy bar—but not by much! The issue with dried fruit is with portion size. Fruit itself isn't super calorie-dense, so you can eat a big bowl of fruit salad and feel absolutely satisfied and full. Dried fruit is a little different—with all the water removed, you've got the same number of calories and amount of sugar in a much smaller package, which means that a small handful probably has way more calories than you would've guessed.
When you're wandering the snack food aisle, it can be easy to reach for pretzels and feel good about your choice. After all, they're way better than potato chips, right? Well, while pretzels do usually have less fat than potato chips, they're far from a healthy option. They're made with white flour and really have zero nutritional value—it may feel satisfying to crunch your way through them, but you're not actually providing your body with any nutrition. You're far better off indulging your desire for something crispy and crunchy with something like fresh vegetables or an oven-baked treat of some kind.
6 Baked Beans
Beans are a great option for a plant-based protein and can make any meal way more satisfying. However, not all beans are created equal—there's a huge difference between beans you make from scratch and baked beans. Most baked beans contain a load of sugar, ingredients like molasses, and even additions like pork fat. You're much better off just adding a ton of spices and flavorings to regular beans if you're looking for a great side dish that's still healthy. That syrupy sauce that makes baked beans so addictive and delicious basically cancels out any health benefits within the beans themselves.
5 Bran Muffins
You're at a coffee shop getting a coffee and decide you want a muffin to go with it, so you're browsing the pastry case and trying to find the healthiest option. Obviously, you need to pick bran, right? It's bound to be way healthier than blueberry and all those other options. It turns out, that isn't always true. Bran itself is super healthy and packed with fiber, but when you add all the ingredients required to make most muffins, such as sugar and flour, it becomes more of a dessert. If you bake them from scratch, you can make them healthier, but most pre-made versions have as much sugar and calories as a doughnut.
4 Reduced-Fat Peanut Butter
Many people have heard horror stories about just how calorie-dense peanut butter is and how you have to be careful with portion size. While that's definitely true, one thing you never want to do is go for the reduced-fat or light versions. Often, they've got nearly the same number of calories as the regular version, and they've just swapped out that healthy fat for sugar, which is certainly not what you want. When looking for a peanut butter to incorporate in your diet, make sure you go for a regular full-fat version where the ingredient list contains only two things—peanuts and salt.
3 Fruit Cocktail
Fruit is always a healthy option, and when you can't get a lot fresh, it's fine to go for alternatives like fruit cocktail, right? Well, not if you're trying to make healthy choices. It can be tough sometimes to find fresh fruit in season, which is why frozen fruit can be a great option—it's frozen at peak ripeness and is just the fruit on its own. Fruit cocktail, on the other hand, usually contains a syrup that transforms a healthy snack into a sugar-filled treat. Fruit itself already has a fair bit of natural sugar, so there's really no need to add any more into the mix.
2 Rice Cakes
Rice cakes are one of those foods that many people associate with dieting and healthy eating. After all, they have almost zero calories per cake—what's not to love? The problem with rice cakes is that, while it's true they're quite low-calorie, they also have pretty much zero nutritional value. Not to mention, many people way underestimate the harm that the toppings they're putting on are doing, which means what you think is a small amount of peanut butter atop your rice cake could actually be a snack that clocks in at a few hundred calories. There are better options when it comes to a base for your snacks.
1 Flavored Oatmeal
Oatmeal is a fantastic breakfast option if you're trying to eat healthily—it's quick, it's easy, it's a whole grain, and it's easily customizable. The problem is when people look to flavored packets. Sure, they may be a tiny bit more convenient than regular oats, and those flavors can sound really delicious. However, those packets usually contain a fair amount of sugar and sodium—not to mention, they're way more expensive! If you love to add a little something extra to your oatmeal, just make some from plain oats and jazz it up however you'd like—fruit, nuts, flax seed, honey—the options are limitless!