6 Expensive Health Foods That Are Just as Bad as Junk
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Back in the 1960s, if you wanted to lose weight, you had to do math.
You’d eat more vegetables and drastically cut down your portions of all the fun foods, like desserts and casseroles. Then you had to log it all in a Weight Watchers handbook, just like Betty Draper on “Mad Men.” It was annoying, but it worked.
But now, health food companies have realized they could make a shitload of money off of your food anxiety. Eating more veggies has been replaced with “eating clean,” or dropping serious cash on gluten-free, sugar-free, dairy-free substitutes that are often just as processed as the junk food we’re supposed to be avoiding.
Because here’s the thing: while healthy food choices are really important, a lot of companies are going overboard, using your urge to lose weight as an excuse to part you with your precious dollars. Obviously it’s better to eat a veggie-rich salad instead of a cheeseburger. It’s just that more often than not, the only thing health food companies are concerned with shrinking is your wallet, not your waistline.
So we’ve assembled a list of snacks and meals most people think of as healthy and natural, that are actually similar in terms of calories, carbs, and fat to what we consider junk. Think of this as a cheat sheet to avoid wasting money on fake diet foods. Just eat actual fruits and veggies instead!
1. KIND bars
KIND bars first hit the scene a few years ago and rapidly became everyone’s favorite faux-healthy snack. Not only did they boast a gluten-and-dairy-free ingredient list, but they even looked un-processed, resembling clumps of nuts and seeds instead of chocolate bars.
But it was too good to be true. The FDA even got on KIND bars’ case, asking KIND to take “healthy” off the label (except, UPDATE: they decided they were jk and changed their minds, sorry KIND bars). And according to that same label, they’re pretty similar, calorie-wise, to a Snickers bar.
KIND bar Dark Chocolate Nuts & Sea Salt calories: 200
Fat: 15 g
Carbs: 16 g
Sugars: 5 g
Protein: 6 g
Snickers bar calories: 240
Fat: 12 g
Carbs: 33 g
Sugars: 27 g
Protein: 4 g
So the main difference between a KIND bar and a Snickers? There are twice as many carbs in a Snickers, but everything else is about the same. So if you’re really craving a candy bar, just let yourself have the damn Snickers and enjoy it so you don’t feel deprived and eat more later on.
the SCHMEAR is an excellent healthy alternative to a bagel with cream cheese, made with a sprouted grain (lower gluten content) bagel with marinated kale, cucumber, rosemary cashew cream cheese and special sesame dressings #juicepress #usdaorganic #cleaneats
A photo posted by JUICE PRESS (@juicepress) on
2. Juice Press Schmear bagel
Back in the day, when I still believed “eating clean” was the answer to all my diet woes, I thought buying all-in-one meals from places like from Juice Press was a no-brainer way to lose weight. Their food is gluten-free, dairy-free, and super delicious — what could go wrong?
Then after yet another week of never seeing movement on the scale despite diligently eating clean, I checked out the nutrition info and was horrified by what I saw. Because you guys: my favorite Juice Press bagel has more calories than a Burger King bacon double cheeseburger.
Juice Press Schmear calories: 490
Fat: 21 g
Carbs: 61 g
Sugar: 4 g
Protein: 15 g
Burger King bacon double cheeseburger calories: 390
Fat: 21 g
Carbs: 27 g
Sugar: 7 g
Protein: 17 g
The verdict: I still probably wouldn’t eat fast food unless I was wasted or super hungover because god knows where that meat comes from. But next time I’m in a pinch I won’t feel so bad eating a BK cheeseburger, especially since it’s less than $2.50 while the fancy bagel is $6.
3. Jamba Juice Açai Primo Bowl
If you’ve ever had an açai bowl, you know they’re basically a way more delicious version of a yogurt parfait or a milkshake. And since they’re stocked with a Brazilian “superfood,” obviously they’re way healthier than either of those other options — right?
Eh, not really. The açai primo bowl from Jamba Juice is not only $6, but it’s got more calories than a Dairy Queen banana split. And it’s got 99 carbs and 67 grams of sugar. Sugar is sugar, y’all, and açai bowls have more of it than most candy bars.
Jamba Juice Açai Primo Bowl calories: 490
Fat: 10 g
Carbs: 99 g
Sugar: 67 g
Protein: 8 g
Dairy Queen banana split, small, calories: 450
Fat: 13 g
Carbs: 73 g
Sugar: 61 g
Protein: 11 g
How insane is it that a banana split has more protein and fewer carbs than a seemingly healthy (and definitely more expensive) açai bowl? If you’re trying to lose weight, skip both of these.
A photo posted by Chipotle (@chipotlemexicangrill) on
4. Chipotle salads
We all like to think of Chipotle as the healthy fast food option. Deep down, we all know that’s not the case. In fact, if you get a Chipotle salad that has rice, beans, cheese, and guac, like the one pictured above, it has 1,230 calories — which is fine if it’s literally the only thing you eat all day.
Shockingly, a McDonald’s salad — even one with the incredibly fatty sounding “buttermilk crispy chicken” — has less than half the cals of a Chipotle one.
Chipotle barbacoa salad calories: 1230
Fat: 70 g
Carbs: 110 g
Sugar: 22 g
Protein: 48.5 g
McDonald’s Premium Southwest Salad with Buttermilk Crispy Chicken calories: 520
Fat: 26 g
Carbs: 44 g
Sugar: 9 g
Protein: 28 g
Guess McDonald’s salads, even though they’re more caloric than a burger, aren’t so evil after all. Also, to be fair, it’s possible to make yourself a Chipotle salad that isn’t loaded with calories if you skip the cheese, beans, rice, sour cream, and guac. So like… lettuce and meat. Have fun!
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5. Alternative Baking Company vegan cookie
Ugh, when I first discovered these a few years ago, I thought my prayers had been answered. No eggs? No trans fat? And totally vegan? What could go wrong?
Well, a lot, starting with the fact that a serving size on one of these puppies is just half a cookie. Who eats half a cookie?!
In fact, you could eat two whole Pop-Tarts and still come in with fewer calories than one whole ABC cookie. Just look at the numbers.
Alternative Baking Company peanut butter chocolate chip cookie calories: 480
Fat: 16 g
Carbs: 76 g
Sugars: 28 g
Protein: 10 g
Frosted Blueberry Pop-Tarts calories, two pastries: 400
Fat: 10 g
Carbs: 72 g
Sugars: 32 g
Protein: 4 g
Obviously the Pop-Tart is less healthy overall. But if you’re trying to lose weight, a vegan cookie’s not a great option either.
A photo posted by terrachips (@terrachips) on
6. Terra chips
Who doesn’t love Terra chips? They’re freaking amazing. But I bet because of the healthy-looking wrapper, you think nothing of eating twice as many Terra chips as Lay’s.
For me, at least, it’s easier to stop after one serving when it comes to something like Lay’s chips, because I know it’s “bad.” But Terra chips are so colorful and healthy-looking, I’ll allow myself way more of those.
Well, guess what? Nutritionally, they’re almost exactly the same as Lay’s. Whoops.
Terra chips calories in 1 oz.: 150
Fat: 9 g
Carbs: 16 g
Sugars: 3 g
Protein: 1 g
Lay’s chips calories in 1 oz.: 160
Fat: 10 g
Carbs: 15 g
Sugars: less than 1 g
Protein: 2 g
A gram of fat here, a carb there, and they’re basically the same. Oh, except Lay’s have fewer sugars and more protein. Dammit to hell.