I’m not a proponent of diets. In the United States there are a lot of foods available that are marketed as diet foods or healthy alternatives. When in reality they are the exact wrong things you should be eating if you want to live a healthier lifestyle. I’ve made a list of 9 dieting mistakes that make you fat.

  1. Thinking turkey bacon is healthy. Turkey bacon is made from the worst leftover scraps of a turkey, then processed with nitrates and shaped into little sticks. The only benefit over real bacon is that you are not eating pork. But don’t think for a second that turkey bacon is good for your body. It’s full of sodium and harmful nitrates. Microwaving it only compounds its awfulness. Step away from the turkey bacon.
  2. Eating fruit yogurt. If yogurt tastes sweet and fruity, that means it’s full of sugar. Fruit-filled and fruit-flavored yogurt does not have as much calcium and healthy probiotics as plain yogurt because the fruit is taking up space in the container. Even real Greek yogurt, which has many health benefits, is not low in fat. Yogurt can be good for you, but it’s not really a diet food.
  3. Eating low-fat foods and snacks. Low-fat cookies, energy bars, protein bars, and protein shakes are super processed and not good for you or your waistline. If you really need a cookie, eat one real cookie. It’s better than eating a box of fake diet cookies.
  4. Thinking gluten-free means diet. Some people are allergic or unable to process wheat gluten. But it has become a fad that people mistake for low-carb and low-calorie. Gluten-free does not mean diet, it just means it does not contain gluten. In some cases, gluten-free foods contain more calories than their non-gluten alternatives, because the manufacturer adds more sugar.
  5. Eating multigrain bread. It’s better for you nutritionally than white bread, but it’s still full of carbs. Carbs are good for you in moderation. Super low-carb diets are not good for you, and whole grain carbs are still carbs. Carbs are not your enemy. Too many carbs — too much of anything — is not a good thing.
  6. Eating fruit. Fruit is good for you but contains sugar, lots of sugar. It’s a natural source of sugar, but it’s still sugar. If you are looking to lose weight, try limiting fruit and eating more vegetables instead.
  7. Juicing. Putting five kinds of fruits and vegetables into a blender or juicer is another way of overeating in one sitting. If you buy juice blends at the store to use as a meal replacement, read the label. They are full of calories and one bottle is usually more than one serving. Replacing a meal with a bottle of juice can actually make you gain weight if you’re not careful.
  8. Giving up coffee. If you’re giving up coffee to eat cleaner, that’s great. But don’t give up coffee because you think it will help you lose weight. It’s not coffee that is the bad guy. It’s the sugary creamy versions of coffee like full-fat caramel mocha lattes that make people gain weight.
  9. Eating vegetables but dipping them in fattening condiments like ranch dressing or peanut butter. There are a lot of calories in a small amount of salad dressing and peanut butter. You may get excited about eating healthy and cut up loads of beautiful vegetables like sweet peppers, carrots, celery, cucumbers. But then you dip them into ranch dressing which has 73 calories per tablespoon. Peanut butter has 94 calories per tablespoon.

When trying to eat healthier or lose weight, we often go to extremes and that’s how we end up making dieting mistakes. Usually people think of diets as temporary austerity to lose some pounds (oftentimes for an event) and then they go back to their normal eating habits afterwards. They usually gain back the weight, maybe even a little more than before they started.

That’s why I recommend lifestyle change, specifically the Mediterranean Diet as interpreted by Italy. If you learn to eat real food, you’ll find you can eat more of it and that you stay satisfied longer. Avoid dieting mistakes.

For more on this subject, read my article, “Living the Sweet Life by Eating Italian Style.”

What foods did you think were healthy, and then found out were full of hidden calories?