When I was larger and I started on my weight-loss journey, I thought I had it all figured out when it came to eating. I avoided fat like the plague, I counted calories and carbs and “points” and a whole bunch of other things. I ate less, because that is what I thought you were supposed to do when trying to lose weight.

I had no idea what to eat and didn’t know much about cooking anything that didn’t come out of a box.
 

I’d stop eating the day before a weigh-in and then not eat again until after weigh-in so I would be lighter, then it was the weekend and I could binge! Which was fine because I had all week to get rid of the bloat and repeat the cycle. That in itself was bad, but what was worse was the fact that I was addicted to diet foods and they were keeping me fat.

Like any average person, I was looking for things to make life more simple. I had no idea what to eat and didn’t know much about cooking anything that didn’t come out of a box.

Even though I had worked in the advertising industry for many years and should have known better than to believe product claims, I fell for the hype. I fell for those products that well-known diet companies were promoting and that the health industry was supporting, not realizing that these items are actually not even real food. Or that these items were probably making me gain weight.

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Here is a list of some of the worst offending franken-foods that could be derailing your weight loss goals:

1. Diet soda is only fooling your gut.

I was addicted to the stuff, I had three a day because in my mind I didn’t drink coffee, so this was a great pick-me-up! AND it had zero calories. Does it get any better than that?

Well, studies have shown that artificial sweeteners are hundreds to thousands of times sweeter than regular sugar, activating our genetically programmed preference for sweet taste. They trick our bodies into thinking that sugar is coming, causing the body to pump out insulin, the fat storage hormone, which lays down more belly fat. When your body doesn’t actually get the sugar, it craves more.

2. Low-fat yogurt is full of other junk.

I don’t even like yogurt, but I forced myself to eat it because the TV said it was good for me. Plus, it was NO fat and low in calories —that’s practically free food! Problem is, the good/healthy fats in normal yogurt are removed and replaced with things like sugar and additives like high-fructose corn syrup or artificial sweetener, which drive up insulin resistance and, you guessed it, can make you pack on the pounds.

3. Low-fat, low-calorie frozen microwave dinners are sodium nightmares.

These were a dream come true, a whole low-maintenance meal in a tiny box, low in fat and carbs and sometimes flavor. The problem with these is, when you take all of the nutrients out of something, especially fat, which is what makes food taste good, you have to replace it with something.

Most products replace it with salt and sometimes sugar so that you can actually stomach eating them. Just look at the ingredients — some of those tiny little meals have upward of 600 mg or more of sodium. The recommended daily allowance is 2,400 mg, so if you eat more than one of these little meals you can pretty much assume you are going way over your daily recommendation, and you are likely very bloated.

4. "Good-for-you" breakfast cereals aren't good for much.

You know the ones, that help you fit into that polka-dot bikini or that sexy red dress. I used to eat these as a snack, out of a little plastic bag at work. I bought into the claims that they were a great snack, super simple and quick to grab.

I’ve since learned that “enriched” breakfast cereals is code for “we took all of the nutrients out of this, processed the stuff to death, and then had to enrich it with some added in nutrients so we could call it healthy.” Cereal is actually a bad way to start your day. Most breakfast cereals spike your blood-sugar and insulin levels and by mid-morning you are crashing. These cereals are also typically loaded with sugar and the actual serving sizes are very small. I don’t know anyone who eats half a cup or three-quarters of a cup of cereal.

If you want to see and maintain real results, then just say no to franken-foods! Food is fuel. Would you put crappy gas in your car and expect it to run well? Our bodies need a balance of healthy fats, protein, and carbohydrates to run efficiently. A good rule of thumb: If it comes with a nutrition label in a box or a bag, then limit consumption, or avoid all together. Eat real food. Watch how not only your body changes and responds, but your overall well-being and moods change.

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