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“Diet Friendly” Foods That Aren’t Friendly At All

Sugar free, diet, and fat free, oh my!  These terms are probably all too familiar to most of us.  Whether you’re a health nut or just trying to squeeze into those skinny jeans, it is easy to turn to diet foods as a way to cut a few calories or carbs here or there, or because they simply seem like better choices.  However, these “healthy” foods and drinks are not all they are cracked up to be.  In fact, many of the diet products on the market today are actually worse for you than regular foods and beverages.  Below are some of the most popular “healthy” foods and drinks that are sneakily harmful.  Beware!

Diet Soda

We all have that one friend that will not part ways with his or her precious diet soda.  Perhaps you’re that person!  If so, listen up.  Diet soda has a laundry list of negative effects that are just plain scary.  First, diet soda has a pH that makes it very acidic. Thus, it strips the enamel off your teeth and causing them to decay.  Second, diet soda can cause kidney problems down the road.  An 11-year study by Harvard Medical School revealed that diet soda is significantly linked to declining kidney function. Third, this beverage can cause cardiovascular issues.  The American Stroke Associate discovered that individuals that consumed diet soda every day had a 48% higher risk of having a stroke or similar problems. Finally, diet soda can cause bloating, according to bodybuilding.com.  The carbonation and sodium in diet soda is linked to water retention. These are just a few of the negative side effects of diet soda.  Put the soda down and drink some water.  It’s the best way to stay hydrated and even beat cravings for sweets, like diet soda.

Sugar Free Desserts

If you’re like me, you live and breathe by dessert.  I’ve got quite the sweet tooth to say the least…. However, if you’re avoiding guilt by opting for sugar free desserts, put down that cookie. Sugar free foods are full of artificial sweeteners, which have been linked to bloating and diarrhea.  Not cute.  Some sources even claim that these sweeteners actually cause you to crave more sweets.  Just like diet soda, several sources have linked sugar free desserts with diabetes and heart disease.  Finally, when companies take out the sugar, they lose a lot of flavor.  To compensate for this loss, foods are stuffed with other additives, like extra fat or sodium.  So a sugar free chocolate chip cookie could contain more fat, calories, and sodium than the regular cookie.  If you’re going to treat yourself, just go for the real deal.

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Frozen Meals

One stroll down the frozen food isle in the grocery store could convince anyone that frozen meals are a healthy go-to dinner option.  There are so many varieties these days, all of which advertise things like, “low calorie”, “preservative-free”, or “diet friendly”.  However, let me give you the skinny on these not-so-skinny frozen meals. While many of these meals may in fact be low in calories, they are often packed full of sodium and sugar.  Yes, I said sugar.  The Healthy Choice Roasted Sesame Chicken frozen meal may seem like a healthy alternative, but it has 23 grams of sugar! For that much sugar, you could have a cup of ice cream! Frozen meals are great to have on hand, especially when you’re crunched for time, but make sure you check out the nutritional facts. 

Fat Free Salad Dressings

Picture this:  A great big salad with a drizzle of fat free dressing.  Doesn’t that sound like the epitome of healthy eating? Actually, no.  Just like sugar free foods, fat free salad dressings contain added ingredients to make up for flavor loss when the fat is removed.  In this case, it is usually added sugar. Skip the fat free dressings. In fact, you actually need some fat in a meal to help you better digest food and absorb as many nutrients as possible.  Healthy fats, that is.  Monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats are healthy fats found in foods like olive oil. These are fats that you want in the foods you eat.  Opt for a dressing that is oil based and contains such fats.  A rule of thumb that typically works for me is the transparency test.  If I can see through the dressing, it’s probably healthy.  If it is opaque, stay away! Those dressings are nothing but unhealthy fat and calories.

I am a 2015 graduate of Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina. I graduated summa cum laude with a degree in communication, journalism. Upon graduation, I moved to Nashville, Tennessee to work for my college sorority, AOII. I am currently the Assistant Director of Communications of AOII and Editor of our internationally-circulated magazine, To Dragma. I'm a fitness enthusiast through and through. I love weightlifting, running and boxing, and I am always up for a new workout! I am also a coffee addict with a killer sweet tooth. When I'm not at work or at the gym, you can find me scoping out the latest and greatest coffee and donut spots in Nashville.  I've been part of the Her Campus team since 2012, when I joined App State's team of writers. I was the CC of my chapter my senior year, as well as a Chapter Advisor. I have remained a CA since graduating, and I love having the opportunity to stay connected to Her Campus in this role!
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