unhealthy foods

Unhealthy Foods Uncovered! 10 Deception Shockers!

January 16, 2023

Do you easily get influenced by words such as “Natural”, “Gluten-free”, or “Healthy”? There are hidden calories and sugar lurking everywhere. Just because a food label may use a word that appears positive, it may be overshadowing ingredients in the product that are unhealthy foods for you.  Let’s investigate and uncover the truth about some of the foods we may choose to eat, thinking we are making a good choice, but really are not!  Let us break the myth about granolas and yogurts and some of those “Natural” bars we purposely select over other items. Let us no longer be fooled by marketing ploys and fancy labels that deceive us from checking a label and seeing what is inside rather than the deceptive outside. We are smarter than them! We can no longer be fooled!

Here is the Top 10 list of unhealthy foods deception shockers!



This includes trail mix, bars, clusters, mixes with oatmeal, etc.  Most are jam-packed with white sugar, honey, butter, and oil. Granola without additives does not have a lot of flavors, so things are added to sweeten them, such as dried fruits. The sweetener that holds it all together now turns this into an unhealthy choice. Always check to make sure it reads low-sugar granola if you are having and use sparingly. A healthier option is to try muesli, which is really granola minus the sugar and fat, or make your own granola, so you know what additives are included!


Yogurt and Yogurt Parfaits

Looks like a healthy and quick pick for a meal on the go at your local deli or bagel eatery. Beware! As mentioned previously, the granola and the yogurt used in the parfaits are usually high fat. Yogurt is a healthy choice since it is high in probiotics but read the label and make sure both the total fat and the total carbohydrates are each 5% or less per serving (the 5% rule). A low-fat Greek yogurt is your best choice and if you want to add a few berries in it as a topping (after 3 months) that’s a good option too! Frozen yogurts are generally high in sugar and once you add toppings to them, they do not provide any nutritional value.


Flavored Soy, Almond, Rice, Oat milks

Yes. These milk and milk alternative products are healthy in their original form. Once flavor is added to them, it increases the sugar content by more than 10g per serving. Always choose the purest form of the food for a healthier alternative. Ignore the chocolate, vanilla, strawberry, or fancy flavors. They are eye-catching and entice you to purchase them, even though they are not a healthy choice.


Turkey Bacon vs Pork Bacon

Believe it or not, turkey bacon still has high levels of nitrates, sodium, and saturated fat. Turkey and pork bacon are processed meats that are not a good source of protein. Turkey bacon has 4g of saturated fat per serving, which can lead to unhealthy outcomes. Turkey bacon is not a good stand in for breakfast food. Refrain!


Sushi Rolls

Here is a lean protein that starts out healthy and is literally surrounded by rice that swells and bloats in your stomach and potentially can stretch it. When you really analyze the portion of rice to the fish in the roll, you can easily see just how little protein you are consuming. A healthier option is to order sashimi or your rolls of Naruto (wrapped in cucumber). Lay off the soy sauce and spicy mayo too! They only add sodium and fat to your once healthy fish option.


Low-fat Peanut Butter

So here is a basic example of something being made low-fat and being passed off as “healthier”. The bonus about peanuts is they are filled with mono-unsaturated fat (the good kind). Once it is stripped of its fat, you are only left with sugar and calories and NO mono-unsaturated fat. Look for the peanut butter that has no added salt (NAS) and enjoy half the recommended serving size.


Wheat Anything

Wheat bread, cereal, rice, pasta- it does not matter. Unless the product is 100% whole wheat it will have added enriched flour, which can contribute to poor control of blood sugars. Better words to look for on a label are “sprouted” or “multigrain” which will pack in more fiber and nutrition and make it worthy. Otherwise, forgo the bread and try a crunchy sandwich wrapped in lettuce. 


Sports and Energy Drinks

Marketing may really trick you here. Colorful labels and cool shaped bottles. These drinks are targeting a population of people that want to have high energy. Don’t we all want good energy? Drinking a beverage that is higher in sugar or is caffeinated will give you a quick false hit of energy and then crash- you are lower in energy than before. Choose a drink that is non-carbonated, decaffeinated, and sugar-free for the best hydration. Good old-fashioned water is best. Try flavoring it naturally with a slice of vegetable such as cucumber or celery or a small slice of fruit like apple or watermelon. You will save money and have better energy. Goal: 64oz or eight 8oz glasses a day.



Some people have certain restrictions in their diets, such as gluten.  Unfortunately, many gluten-free processed products contain higher levels of sugar and calories. They also can lack quality protein, folate, calcium, potassium, iron, and fiber. The biggest myth about Gluten-free diets is that they are low in carbohydrates. Be mindful of the label and check that 5% Rule again. Also, check the protein level to make a quality food choice.



This is another tricky topic. Words to look out for are “partially hydrogenated” and “saturated fat”. We are looking for monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats that will not raise your bad cholesterol levels and put you at risk for heart disease. Oils to avoid are corn, safflower, coconut, soybean, margarine, and butter. Research shows extra virgin olive oil and avocado oil are the best choices. However, try using them sparingly and as a spray, not a dripping oil. Once you start to drip-you have already used too much. Using a spray makes it much easier to control the volume. 

So…how did you do? Have you been fooled or are you wiser than the false advertising of various foods and drinks? Some of your favorite “healthy” items could be very deceiving based on their labels. These were just ten of the many foods that are unhealthy for you. When purchasing new foods, always remember to look for some of the key words that mean a food product is an unhealthy food undercover! 

Sharon George, MS, RD, CDN has dedicated her career to Bariatric Nutrition for the past 15 years at the New York Bariatric Group.



Sharon George, MS, RD, CDN received her B.A. in Psychology from Syracuse University. She completed a second Bachelor’s degree in Nutrition at L.I.U.C.W. Post and received her Master’s degree in Community Counseling from Hofstra University. She has been published in OH Magazine and Bariatrics Today. Sharon has dedicated her career to Bariatric Nutrition for the past 15 years at the New York Bariatric Group.
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Unhealthy Foods