- Gluten free – while eating a gluten-free diet can be very important to those with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, it can also be a trap for those simply looking for healthy dietary alternatives. Obviously, limiting carbohydrate intake by focusing on lean meats, non-starchy vegetables and some dairy is a great idea, beware of gluten-free bread and other gluten-free processed foods. These gluten-free alternatives tend to be lower in protein as well as vitamins than the gluten-containing foods they replace.
- Protein bars and breakfast bars – these easy meal supplementing or meal-replacement options can sometimes be misleading when touted as healthy food choices. Some bars, in fact, have high protein, lots of vitamins and low carbs, and these can be helpful additions to your diet, especially when you’re short on time. However, some have large amounts of added sugars and high levels of saturated fats and/or sodium. Be sure to check out the nutritional content, and if there is a large amount of added sugar, then that protein bar is simply a candy bar masquerading as a healthy choice.
- Low fat foods – while it seems intuitive to think that low-fat foods are inherently healthier than their full-fat replacements, this generally isn’t the case. For instance, low-fat flavored yogurt and low-fat sweetened breakfast cereal have large amounts of added sweeteners for flavor. This typically not only increases calorie content, but the fat of the non-sweetened alternatives is no longer there to help with satiety. The bottom line is that you end up with more calories per serving, and you eat more because you’re less full. Other low-fat traps can include frozen yogurt, low-fat peanut butter, low fat cereal bars, and low-fat pastries and cookies.
- Diet soda – no calories and enough flavor to satisfy your sweet tooth? Seems like a no brainer for a healthy diet alternative. Unfortunately, that’s not exactly the case. Studies suggest that these artificial sweeteners may still cause insulin release, and over time, sustained insulin release can develop into insulin resistance, weight gain and even diabetes. Also, these artificial sweeteners are hundreds of times sweeter than sugar, which may make it harder to satisfy your cravings for sweets, and when taken at the same time as real carbs, can cause negative changes in how your body metabolizes carbs in the future.