10 'Healthy' Foods that Are Actually Unhealthy (And How to Fix Them)

Surprise — your favorite lunch option may be on this listSurprise — your favorite lunch option may be on this listThere's an awful lot of pressure to pick the right option during lunch on a typical busy workday. Basically, everyone wants something that's quick, healthy, cheap, and still has some attempt at flavor. But, every once in awhile, we succumb to just grabbing whatever sounds good without giving it a whole lot of thought - such is the problem with grabbing lunch on the go.

Click here to see 20 'Healthy' Foods That Are Actually Unhealthy (And How to Fix Them)


So perhaps it's time to remove yourself from that situation; after all, it's much easier to make health-conscious choices when you're not in a time crunch. It may take a little planning the night before, but it's well worth it. We came up with a list of foods that may sound like healthy options when you're dining out, but are better made at home. The fixes are simple, and perhaps some may not necessarily be surprising, but every once in awhile, it's helpful just to have a reminder.

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For example, what's wrong with the situation pictured above? There are several things wrong, actually, and the first thing is the most obvious. It's huge. Yes, it's obviously a bit of an exaggeration, and a portion like that is meant either for a gargantuan or an army of ravenous teenagers. But, it does illustrate one of the problems common to many popular and "healthy" dining choices: The portions are sometimes big enough to feed more than one person. Yes, it is a turkey sandwich, and yes, it does have plenty of vegetables, but it also has way too much cheese, and that bun should be whole-wheat. And slathered onto the back of that bun is probably a whole bunch of mayonnaise.

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So we teamed up with a few nutrition experts to help untangle the mess. Laura Cipullo, R.D., CDE, runs her own nutrition consultation practice in New York City and takes a holistic approach to nutrition to help people get out of the "diet mentality." She offers advice to both adults and children.
Nicole Ring, R.D., is the director of restaurant and community partnerships at Healthy Dining, a service backed by a team of dietitians that helps people find healthy menu options when dining out. Ring was kind enough to help point us in the right direction when trying to figure out what popular dishes would be better made at home, along with what to add, and more importantly, what to leave out when doing so.

Last but not least, Tricia Williams, chef-nutritionist and founder of Food Matters NYC, marries the best of both worlds, with a sound restaurant background and a solid understanding of the principles of good nutrition. Williams holds a certification in holistic nutrition from Columbia Teacher's College and a Food Therapy Certification from the National Gourmet Institute, and is currently pursuing her masters in nutrition education at New York University.
We hope that you find their advice useful in making healthier choices.

Credit: Jane Bruce Smoothies
It's hard to avoid all the rage about smoothies! Cipullo says: Be sure to make your smoothies rather than buy them. Smoothies are not meant to be consumed like water or even juice. Instead, use whole fruits, Greek yogurt, and water to keep this a refreshing and healthy snack. Say goodbye to the scoops of sugar, the artificial flavorings, and the sweetened yogurts found in your smoothie store.


Credit: MeatlessMonday.comBran Muffins
You are at the coffee shop and are trying to find something healthy. The whole-grain message rings a bell and you see a bran muffin. You order it warmed and add butter. But that muffin is equal to a meal for some people, and just because it's made with bran doesn't mean it's healthy, says Cipullo. This muffin is usually made from a processed mix and then moistened up with butter and sugar. Instead, opt for homemade muffins.


Credit: iStockphoto/Thinkstock Linguine and Clams
Here's another dish that's better made at home. Nicole Ring, R.D., says that while linguine and clams in a white wine broth may seem light, the portion sizes are often enough for two or three people to share. In addition, all that white pasta adds unnecessary calories that will only leave you feeling hungry a short while later, and in many sauces, oil is used to sauté veggies, but then butter is used for the finish.
Instead, make this at home using whole-wheat pasta and cut out the butter, using just enough heart-healthy olive oil to coat the pasta lightly. Use chopped fresh herbs and garlic to make the dish light yet flavorful.


Credit: Brand X Pictures/Thinkstock Vegetarian Sandwich
Lettuce, tomato, onions, sprouts, avocado, and cheese on whole-wheat bread - sounds healthy, but here's why it can be a diet disaster if you're ordering out, says Ring: The bread can be oversized, toasted, and buttered; the description often doesn't mention mayonnaise or "secret sauce," and usually larger portions of cheese and avocado are used which can pack on extra fat and calories.

Instead, make this at home and turn it into an open-faced sandwich, reducing extra unnecessary calories. And forgo the extra slices of cheese. Just using one slice instead of two or three may cut up to 200 calories, depending on the type of cheese.

Most importantly, watch the portion size of the sandwich! Eat half now together with a broth-based soup, fresh fruit, or small salad (with dressing on the side) and save the other half for later.


Credit: Rachel Cannon Humiston Whole-Wheat Wraps
Tricia Williams, chef-nutritionist and founder of Food Matters NYC, says that whole-wheat wraps contain gluten and are high glycemic toss them out and switch to lettuce wraps; romaine and Boston lettuce are good choices.







Credit: iStockphoto/Thinkstock "The Fish Dish"
Williams says you're better off making this one at home, too. She says that in her time in the restaurant industry, she has observed that lots of kitchens brush their fish with melted butter. Instead, making it at home and pan-searing in an eco-friendly, nonstick pan with organic spray safflower oil is the way to go.




Credit: Lindsay S. NixonVeggie Burgers
Williams says that veggie burgers are often loaded with overprocessed proteins and soy products. While they are vegetarian, there aren't a whole lot of actual vegetables in veggie burgers, so they're not necessarily a healthy choice; rather, they're oftentimes just a non-meat junk food. Homemade veggie burgers are a snap to make out of actual vegetables, beans, and quinoa.



Credit: Yasmin FahrTomato Soup
Williams says that tomato soups are often loaded with sodium. In restaurants, they are often finished with cream or thickened with bread. It's best to make it on your own so you can control the ingredients.







Credit: flickr/charchen Credit: flickr/charchen Turkey Bacon
Williams says turkey bacon has as many calories traditional bacon, and it is loaded with sodium and artificial ingredients like liquid smoke. Your best bet if you're going to indulge is to look for a heritage variety of bacon from a small production farm that's free of nitrates and sugars.





Credit: Alison J. BermackAsian Chopped Salad
Williams says that salads are generally a bad pitfall for people who think they are making a healthy choice and option. Asian chopped salads, Cobb salads, and Caesar salads are loaded and coated with non-vegetable items (nuts, dried fruit, tortillas, cheese, bacon, croutons, etc.) that really stack up the calories. It's best to build your own salad and make conscious choices about what's in the mix!


Click here to see more 'Healthy' Foods That Are Actually Unhealthy


- Will Budiaman, The Daily Meal

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