The more I research proper dietary habits, healthy lifestyles, and balance, the more I realize that I have adopted this misconceived notion that I can eat whatever I want if I just workout every day.  Yes, physically, that might pay off, but you can't out-exercise a bad diet. A mindful diet is so important not only in unleashing your potential at the gym, but also in maintaining high energy levels, bettering your sleep, and becoming in-touch with your body. Food nutritionists emphasis the importance of balance - not every meal has to be healthy, but keeping your diet at a 70% healthy, 30% less healthy has been proven to be beneficial to a person's fitness levels. 

All food nutritionists will offer different advice to their clients regarding what they should eat or prioritize in their diet, but all have fun tips to change our grocery store shopping habits and our day-to-day munchies. Shopping slowly allows for more time to process what you're buying by reading the label. Also, alternating heavy and light meals, splitting dessert, and packing nutritious snacks are great ways of managing your nutritional consumption and promoting a balanced lifestyle for yourself.   

With all these tips we are told to focus on, food nutritionists also supply information about what we should restrict in our diets, which is equally as important.  

Here are common foods food nutritionists advise us not to eat:

1. Bacon

I'm sorry, I really didn't want to put this on here... but everyone kinda knew bacon was unhealthy, right? 68% of the calories in bacon are from saturated fat, and each strip contains 200mg of sodium (and no one just eats one strip of bacon). And bacon is pretty much just the long layers of fat from a pig's belly. Yikes.

2. Pre-Baked Toaster Pastries

With foods #1 and #2 making the cut, I'm pretty much out of options for breakfast. These toaster pastries are filled with calories in sugar (one pastry has 200 calories and 15-20 grams of sugar, and we all know that since the packet comes with 2, we eat 2). Foods to start off your day should be high in fiber (like oatmeal) and high in protein (like eggs or Greek yogurt), and these pastries, although convenient, fail to supply you with either.

3. Reduced Fat Peanut Butter  

How can something with reduced fat be unhealthy? Well, regular and reduced fat peanut butter are equal in their amount of calories (200 cals per 2 tbsp). However, reduced fat peanut butter has more refined carbohydrates and sugars to replace for the fats lost. Crazy! The best type of peanut butter is the one that is the most natural so look at the whole label, not just the grams of fat.

4.  Pretzels

Shocked, yet again, seeing that I always likened pretzels to being better than chips and thus "healthy", but actually they contain no beneficial nutrients. They have no fiber, no protein, no healthy fat, they are literally just refined carbohydrates. Boring sugar sold to be healthy? No thanks. 

5. Flavored Yogurt 

Way too much sugar to be beneficial, unfortunately for us. The flavoring is sugar loaded jelly that makes the yogurts actually quite fattening, and the higher calories don't add to any other nutritional values like fiber or protein. When you're in the dairy aisle and looking at yogurts, reach for a plain greek yogurt and make it flavored by adding granola or fruit.

6. Agave

Agave is actually the third worst sweetener you could choose. It's not healthier than honey, sugar, or high fructose corn-syrup. Just because it's natural, doesn't mean it's healthy. It actually has higher fructose content that high fructose corn-syrup, which must be rather impressive, so consider the myth that agave is the healthiest sweetener debunked. If you want a syrupy sweetener, use honey! 

7. Red Meat

Red meat is found to be a potential carcinogenic linked to colorectal, prostate, and pancreatic cancer. I definitely don't like all of those words linked together in the same sentence, especially when it has something to do with burgers. Now for the immediate effects of eating red meat - one or two servings of red meet can actually take you over the limit of saturated fat. Try replacing red meats with fish and lean meats like chicken or turkey. The adjustment will be something to get used to, but your body will thank you. 

8. Flavored Coffee Drinks

I think we all knew how calorie intensive these drinks are, but because they're seasonal and festive, it's hard to resist. But in the end, it's not worth it - they're not filling, nor do they provide enough nutrients to make their calories worth it. Better to opt for black coffee or coffee with a splash of nonfat milk, or if you're trying to cut back on caffeinated beverages, stretching and eating a healthy snack can do just the trick.  

9. Wraps

Turns out the "healthy" alternative to a sandwich isn't so healthy after all.  Most deli or cafe wraps have around 300 calories, which is totally not worth it for just the wrapping. Lame. Two slices of whole- grain bread is about 200 calories. Save those 100 calories for food that's actually worth it! Another trick I use is peel off the excess wrap, so it doesn't cover the taste of the meat, cheese, and veggies and it also lowers the calories.

10. Soy Sauce

When low-sodium soy sauce is so easily accessible at most restaurants, why choose the regular one? It doesn't taste any different, but the difference in ingredients is huge. High sodium holds onto water and thus causes for water retention and weight gain. Don't leave from sushi places uncomfortably bloated when there is an alternative that is practically the same as the real thing.

11. Dried Fruit

Fruits are high in sugar, but these less healthy fruits are bigger in size (mangos, bananas) so after one, you tend to be content. With dried fruit, you can easily go through a pack without even thinking about it.  The serving size is the reason for the problem, as because it's fruit, people are less cautious with the quantity they eat, but little do they know that the sugar and calories from dried fruit can add up to an unhealthy amount.  I recommend reading the label, seeing the serving size, taking one serving, and then put the bag away.  

12. Protein Bars

30 grams of protein is too much for most people at one time for a snack, and that brings about the question. How is there 30 grams of protein in one bar? When looking at the ingredients, it's possible to notice that components of the bar are unrecognizable, and for this reason, these bars might not be so healthy. For a quick snack, try RXBar Whole Food Protein Bars, whose ingredients are written right on the front of the package, where there is truly is nothing to hide.

That was a fun intervention to myself. 

Eating healthy is hard, but your body will thank you for the positive changes you make.  Be active in creating a healthy lifestyle for yourself.