You eat healthy, you keep up on the latest health food out there, but are you really? Here are 7 foods that often have a health halo that are probably doing more damage than good to your waistline.

1. Gluten-Free Snack Foods

An estimated 1% of our population have Celiac Disease {an autoimmune response to the gluten protein found in wheat, rye, and barley} and an estimated 10-30% more have a gluten sensitivity. With that, gluten has become a 4-letter word these days. However, a gluten-free muffin or bread is typically going to have just as much, if not more carbohydrates and sugar than their gluten-filled version.

The key to going gluten-free for health and weight loss is to focus a diet around whole foods that are naturally gluten free like fruits, vegetables, healthy fats like nuts and avocados, and animal proteins.

2. Coconut Water

Coconut oil, coconut milk, coconut butter…so why not coconut water? Coconut water has been praised as a sports drink alternative chock full of vitamins and minerals that can hydrate you better than plain ol’ water. The problem with coconut water is that in a typical single box or can of coconut water there is anywhere from 15-20g of sugar. Most likely you are not working out hard enough to warrant that much sugar post-workout, especially if weight loss is your goal. If you still want to stick with coconut water, it is way better to drink it fresh. The video below shows how to open a cocount.

3. Veggie Burgers

Veggie Burger

You can never get enough vegetables, so a veggie burger is an obvious healthier choice than a traditional burger right? Not so fast. Veggie burgers are typically heavily processed and made with soy protein concentrates and fillers, food colorings and additives to make the texture and look more appealing.

Looking to add more veggies to your diet? You are better off just eating whole versions to your meals.

4. Soy Milk

Soy Milk

While we are on the subject of soy, we might as well address the problem with soy milk. Has soy been positively linked to heart health? Yes. Does that mean we need to eat and drink it all the time? No. In cultures that regularly consume soy and have low incidence of heart disease eat fermented soy and whole soy beans in fairly small amounts.

They are not downing glassfuls of GMO {genetically modified organisms}, toxin-exposed, modified soy “products”. Soy is also a phytoestrogen which when consumed in large quantities as in soy milk can disrupt your endocrine system and hormone balance.

5. Juicing

If you see a new raw juice bar cropping up nearby, stay away if you are trying to drop weight. Juicing, while it does contain tons of vitamins and minerals also contains about as much sugar as a regular soda. Even vegetable-based juices often contain a fruit juice base or coconut water {see #2} to make it palatable because after all, if it doesn’t taste great, who is going to return to pay $10 for a beverage.

Kudos for trying to increase your plant-based nutrients, but opting for whole foods is going to be better for both your waist line and pocket book.

6. Fat-Free Fill-In-The-Blank

This is a very broad category of food I know, but let me explain. If a food product is marketing itself as a low-fat or fat-free version of itself that means it has had to go through extra processing steps to alter it. It also means that it probably has extra sugar, sodium, or fake additives in order to make it taste good.

Fat doesn’t make us fat , and it is what gives food great texture, flavor and increases satiety and we should not shy away from it in its natural form. So when it comes to foods like peanut butter, dairy, or salad dressings, opt for the full fat versions.

7. Yogurt Parfaits

Yogurt Parfaits

Anytime I check out a new breakfast joint I both love and hate looking at their “healthy start” section of the menu because inevitably, I always see a yogurt parfait there. It looks and sounds healthy and you always see those commercials advertising how healthy yogurt is for you.

However, the fact that it’s usually vanilla yogurt used, and then you throw some granola and fruit in there, before you know it, you have a complete sugar bomb including anywhere from 30-60g of sugar! If you are going to choose yogurt as a meal or snack, opt for a full fat, plain yogurt and add a handful of berries and you will cut that sugar content by more than half.

If you have found yourself falling for any of these health halo traps, don’t worry, marketing and the media have a way of doing that to all of us at some point, I would be lying if I said I have never ordered a latte with soy milk before learning the truth. The key is we learn and grow and apply our nutrition philosophy as we go along.

Thanks for reading! If you found value in this, it would mean a ton to me if you hit one of those fancy share buttons down there.
Registered Dietitian and owner of Your Food Nerd , a private nutrition consulting business. Amaris has over 10 years of nutrition and wellness experience and her specialties include treating digestive disorders, hormone imbalances, blood sugar diseases, food allergies/intolerances, and cardiovascular disease. When she is not counseling clients, she enjoys doing Pilates, strength training, hiking, and playing with her four-legged kids. Follow her on Twitter