There are the foods that nutrionists eat every day. Then there are the foods a nutrionist always keeps in the fridge. And then, there are the foods a nutritionist wishes you would never, ever eat again. Before you head to the grocery store for your next food shopping trip, here are the seven worst offenders.
1. Cauliflower Rice
It may be healthy, but nutritionist Rebecca Scritchfield, author of Body Kindness, just can't get behind this cruciferous craze. "I've tried a few of the frozen bags of cauliflower rice and it really didn't taste that good. Rice is delicious and it has a purpose (even white rice, though brown has a smidge more fiber, vitamins, and minerals)," she says. "Now, I'm all about enjoying cauliflower the ways that taste the best and making room on my plate for rice." Hallelujah! But if cauliflower isn't typically for you and the rice is your gateway to slipping more veggies into your diet, by all means, go ahead.
2. Shelf-Stable Salad Dressing
"So you're eating more salad. Good for you! But that dressing you bought that's been sitting on a grocery store shelf for months isn't doing you any favors," offers nutritionist Christy Brissette, president of 80 Twenty Nutrition. "It's usually made with low-quality oils and loaded with preservatives you don't need." Pro-tip:If you don't have time to make your own dressing, grab refrigerated salad dressings at the store; they may be a touch pricier, but typically have fewer preservatives.
3. Tomato Sauce
These jars are more of a healthy eating foe than friend. In addition to high sodium levels and additives, "[they] frequently have a lot of sugar in them," notes Hillary Goldrich, a Nashville-based nutritionist. "It’s just as easy to open a can of crushed tomatoes into a pan with olive oil and garlic. Add some basil (dried or fresh) and simmer for the time it takes to cook your pasta."
4. Bulletproof Coffee
It may get a lot of buzz, but nutritionists would smartly advise you to step away from this health halo gimmick, made from coffee, coconut oil, and butter or ghee. "The strongest case for drinking the calorie-laden stuff is if and only if you enjoy the taste," says nutritionist Maggie Moon, author of The MIND Diet. Even so, it's best to nix this concoction from your diet and a find a less caloric swap in its place, like heated almond milk with cinnamon and a touch of vanilla extract.
You swear your fit hiking guide cousin lives on the stuff. But….many store-bought varieties are actually filled with salt and sugar. "Granola is often considered a healthy cereal or addition to yogurt in a parfait," shares Goldrich. "Typically they are high in calories for a small serving-size and have less fiber and more sugar than many other options." To keep calories and sugar in check, make your own, or carefully scan labels for added sugars beyond those naturally occurring in fruits.
6. Spray Butter
"Deep in my dieting days butter was not allowed, but the chemically-tasting spray butter was OK," recalls Scritchfield. "This mistake ended up making me regret eating broccoli because it didn't taste as good as when I use real butter and little salt and pepper." Better yet, swap in nutritious olive oil when sautéeing or drizzled over your veggies. We hear Costco's massive jug of extra virgin olive oil retails for about 28 cents a serving.
7. Beef from Factory Farms
"The average American diet is higher in meat than we need for optimum functioning—contributing to food-related health diseases. We should be reducing our meat intake, and the first place to start is by removing the lower quality of factory farmed beef," notes Rebecca Lewis, nutritionist for HelloFresh. "Factory-farmed cattle typically are fed a grain-based diet and are given growth hormones to make them grow faster." Instead, opt for sustainable sources of beef that feed mainly on grass, which will give you more essential omega-3 fatty acids.