7 Foods You Should Avoid Eating

Local nutritionists and dietitians say they wouldn’t touch these foods with a ten-foot pole and offer healthier alternatives.

Twinkies are beloved by many, but contain more than 35 ingredients—many of them unrecognizable. Registered dietitians and nutritionists say there are always healthier alternatives to our favorite, unhealthy foods. Photograph courtesy of Flickr user Christian Cable.

Think you’re being healthy by eating veggie chips instead of kettle chips? Think again. Tons of foods lining grocery shelves tout themselves as nutritious, but a few local registered dietitians suggest otherwise. We asked them to share the one type of food they absolutely refuse to eat, whether it’s because they hate the taste or because the food is packed with unrecognizable ingredients. While some of the experts noted that they rarely encourage people to avoid certain foods altogether, they were quick to offer healthier alternatives to these popular foods below. 

Raw Bean Sprouts
Raw sprouts are just not worth it, says registered dietitian Rima Kleiner. “While sprouts like alfafa and mung bean can be nutritious, raw sprouts are just too likely to harbor foodborne pathogens.” Last February, raw sprouts from the sandwich chain Jimmy John’s were linked to an E.coli outbreak in five states. You’ve been warned. Next time, be safe and cook or steam the sprouts instead.

Veggie Chips
“They’re mostly overpriced versions of potatoes,” says registered dietitian Nour Zibdeh. She admits that in the rare occasions she wants chips, she’ll even opt for normal chips over veggie ones. “I prefer to get my vegetable servings from real fresh or cooked and seasoned real vegetables.”

Fast Food
“Just won’t touch it,” says nutritionist Robyn Webb. “No way, no how!” It can be tempting to chow down on that tub of fries when you’re on the road, but Webb says there are always better alternatives. Still having trouble navigating your options while traveling? Consult our guide to healthy food options at gas stations and rest stops.

Boxed Meals
Registered dietitian Katherine Tallmadge won’t touch boxed or bagged processed meals. “They’re not only unhealthy, they’re gross tasting, too!” So avoid that broccoli pasta in a bag and buy and cook the ingredients yourself. Not only is it healthier, it’s likely to be cheaper, too. 

Not only does she hate the taste, but Elana Natker says there are many better-for-you options than fatty mayo. While there are fat-free and light options, Natker says, “Why bother?” She recommends substituting mayo with a tangy, spicy mustard or a creamy overripe avocado. Making tuna salad? Try olive oil instead. Chicken salad? Even low-fat ranch dressing is a better choice.

Is there anyone who can vouch for Twinkies these days? Certainly not registered dietitian Sonja Goedkoop, who says Hostess Twinkies are “the epitome of a processed food with no real nutritional value.” She cites that the more ingredients in a food, the worse it is, and a Twinkie contains more than 35 ingredients—“especially ones you can’t pronounce or have never heard of.” Need to curb a craving for sweets? Take a bite of dark chocolate instead.

Sugary Drinks
For dietitian Kait Fortunato, sugary drinks means any drinks with calories, including soda, Gatorade, and the like. They contain “unnecessary calories, usually laden with sugar and food dyes. [ . . . ] I’d rather get my kcals (kilocalories) from food!” Instead, try seltzer water or cold brewed tea with lemon. For naturally flavored water, throw some lime, mint, orange, or lemon in your glass.