20 'Healthy' Foods That Are Actually Unhealthy (And Fixes)

Surprise — your favorite lunch option may be on this list

Giant Turkey Sandwich
iStockphoto/Thinkstock
What's wrong with this picture?

There's an awful lot of pressure to pick the right option during lunch on a typical busy workday. Basically, everyone wants something that's quick, healthy, cheap, and still has some attempt at flavor. But, every once in awhile, we succumb to just grabbing whatever sounds good without giving it a whole lot of thought — such is the problem with grabbing lunch on the go.

Click here to see 20 'Healthy' Foods That Are Actually Unhealthy (And How to Fix Them)

So perhaps it's time to remove yourself from that situation; after all, it's much easier to make health-conscious choices when you're not in a time crunch. It may take a little planning the night before, but it's well worth it. We came up with a list of foods that may sound like healthy options when you're dining out, but are better made at home. The fixes are simple, and perhaps some may not necessarily be surprising, but every once in awhile, it's helpful just to have a reminder.

For example, what's wrong with the situation pictured above? There are several things wrong, actually, and the first thing is the most obvious. It's huge. Yes, it's obviously a bit of an exaggeration, and a portion like that is meant either for a gargantuan or an army of ravenous teenagers. But, it does illustrate one of the problems common to many popular and "healthy" dining choices: The portions are sometimes big enough to feed more than one person. Yes, it is a turkey sandwich, and yes, it does have plenty of vegetables, but it also has way too much cheese, and that bun should be whole-wheat. And slathered onto the back of that bun is probably a whole bunch of mayonnaise.

So we teamed up with a few nutrition experts to help untangle the mess. Laura Cipullo, R.D., CDE, runs her own nutrition consultation practice in New York City and takes a holistic approach to nutrition to help people get out of the "diet mentality." She offers advice to both adults and children.

Nicole Ring, R.D., is the director of restaurant and community partnerships at Healthy Dining, a service backed by a team of dietitians that helps people find healthy menu options when dining out. Ring was kind enough to help point us in the right direction when trying to figure out what popular dishes would be better made at home, along with what to add, and more importantly, what to leave out when doing so.

Last but not least, Tricia Williams, chef-nutritionist and founder of Food Matters NYC, marries the best of both worlds, with a sound restaurant background and a solid understanding of the principles of good nutrition. Williams holds a certification in holistic nutrition from Columbia Teacher's College and a Food Therapy Certification from the National Gourmet Institute, and is currently pursuing her masters in nutrition education at New York University.

We hope that you find their advice useful in making healthier choices.

Will Budiaman is the Recipe Editor at The Daily Meal. Follow him on Twitter @WillBudiaman.


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5 Comments

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What you are suggesting is a bland tastless diet that I think no will follow.
As my three predecessors mentioned give us more common sense suggestions.
And you never mentioned the rule of moderation is the key to a long life. Like me I love the skin on a rotisserie chicken, is it going to significantly harm my life if I have it once a week or once every other week? You would probably have a fit if I told you that I have eaten RAW ground beef for the last 30 years and I'm still alive with no sign of cardio problems.
Suggestion - rewrite the article with REALISTIC ideas for eating healthy.

jessie's picture

I have never heard that egg whites alone can increase blood sugar. Where can I find more info on that?

candbj's picture

Wow, what a useless article. The entire substance of this story is centered around words of wisdom from some blabbering "nutritional gurus" who is GOING to find fault in anything no matter how much healthier it is compared to the standard restaurant fare. A few of the points are adequate, but most of them are laughably nit-picking. What was intended to be a thought provoking article telling us some shocking bit of information we didn't know is really not much more than poorly-written tripe showcasing the uninspired opinion of some self-proclaimed experts.

imio's picture

This is in regard to the slideshow and the portobello mushroom burger being listed as unhealthy. I can't seem to post on the actual slideshow right now, but.....
I have never seen a portobella burger be something like what is described here with cheese stuffing and breading and deep fried. Usually the mushroom is just that--the mushroom which is grilled, not fried. It's a healthy sandwich.

dcdale's picture

Too many of the alternatives to these prepared foods are home made, which does not help you if you do not have the time or desire to make your own food. Also, even if you make your own you need butter,oil and salt to achieve a similar level of taste. We all know that if we take the time to make our own egg white omelet in a non-stick pan without salt and butter/oil that it will be healthier than a buttery omelet, but who wants to eat that regularly?! How about giving us more info on what are the healthiest choices in the real world of purchased lunches/dinners?! And quit knocking cheese so much since that is the only form of calcium that many get on a daily basis; rather make real-life suggestions like substituting mustard for mayo when we have a slice of cheese on our sandwiches. Disappointed in this article - could have offered better tips, rather than suggesting that we all make our own food which isn't really going to happen.

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