Smart Woman: Diet Foods that Aren't

SEATLLE (Ivanhoe Newswire) – This is the year—the year you’ve vowed to finally shed that extra weight! But you might be making poor choices without even knowing it.

One common mistake: going gluten-free.

“There’s really nothing to do with weight loss when we talk about gluten.” Judy Simon, MS, RD, Clinical Dietitian at the University of Washington Medical Center, told Ivanhoe.

Simon says gluten-free dieters often lose weight because they consume fewer calories and carbs – not because they cut gluten.

Another culprit: healthy drinks – like vitamin water.

“You’re kind of drinking sugar water, and you’re spending a lot of money on it,” Simon said.

Also beware of snacks labeled “low fat” – like a bag of Chex Mix. “The claim on it is it has 50 percent less fat than potato chips,” Simon said. But when you compare it to a bag of plain chips – it actually has more than twice the calories.

“Low sugar” ice cream can be another trap. One brand has 100 calories per serving – the same as regular ice cream – but it has more artificial flavors and ingredients.

“What I tell people is if you want to enjoy a dessert, you’d probably do better with a smaller portion of the real thing,” Simon said.

Low-fat salad dressings are often loaded with hidden sugars; one of these has eight grams per two tablespoons. That’s like tossing 10 jelly beans in your salad! And one brand of low-fat cottage cheese has 400 milligrams of sodium per serving. That’s like eating more than two, one ounce bags of potato chips!

Another diet food to watch out for: fast food salads. You might think you’re being healthy, but these are often very high in calories and sodium. A McDonald’s Caesar salad with grilled chicken contains more than half the recommended amount of sodium, and that’s without the dressing. The worst part is usually the chicken, which is often cooked in a high-sodium marinade and injected with a sodium solution to keep it moist.

The bottom line?

“Just because it has a health claim, doesn’t mean it doesn’t have calories,” Simon said.

Advice that could make this year’s weight loss plan a success.



REPORT #3716


“Just because it has a health claim, doesn’t mean it doesn’t have calories.

Judy Simon, MS, RD

Clinical Dietitian, University of Washington Medical Center



“Healthy” Alternatives


Recent years have seen a push toward “healthy” alternatives to unhealthy food options like fast food.  But many of these alternatives are not any healthier than the “unhealthy” burger and fries. A 2012 report from Temple University found although menu options at fast food restaurants increased by 53 percent over the previous 14 years, average calorie content hardly changed at all. Fast food salads, with chicken and dressing, can often have more calories than a regular burger and fries. (Source:


Artificial Sugars: It’s not just the food at these restaurants that’s adding calories, diet sodas are sweetened with low calories artificial sweeteners. Although research on the effects of artificial sweeteners has only recently begun, the indications seem to be the sweeteners may actually make you consume more calories. Sugar is the byproduct of one of two plants: sugar cane and sugar beets.  But the first artificial sweetener, saccharin, was actually a mistake: in the 1870s, two Johns Hopkins University researchers were researching coal tar derivatives, and one of the researchers found out saccharin was sweet when he touched the tip of his cigarette to the substance and tasted it.  It was already being used as a substitute for sugar by the late 1800s, and companies flocked to using it because it was so much cheaper than actual sugar.  Since then, other sweeteners like aspartame and sucralose have become as popular and widespread as real sugar. (Sources:,





Judy Simon, MS, RD


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