Imagine that an old high school friend of yours recently started sporting crazy neon wigs, push-up bras, and 8-inch heels to work--and within a year, she'd become a millionaire. Maybe you should try doing the same, right?
Okay, but what if the friend in question was Nicki Minaj, while you were, well, a hardworking...accountant, paralegal, bus driver, or what have you. Chances are, the neon wigs and extra wiggle wouldn't exactly help in your place of business, right?
Something just like that is happening right now in the world of nutrition: the gluten-free craze. People who have a sensitivity to gluten--a protein found in cereal grains, especially wheat--have special needs (just like Nicki does), and eating gluten-free has a lot of benefits. But trying to copy that method when you're not, in fact, gluten-sensitive can have plenty of downsides.
Now, cutting down on gluten means cutting down on carbs, and that's generally a good thing. The fewer muffins, bagels, and breadsticks you're scarfing up, the healthier and leaner you're going to be--as long as you're replacing those carbs with nutritious foods like vegetables and lean meats. But as the number of gluten-free dieters has grown beyond those who simply can't digest gluten, we've also seen a spike in the number of foods marketed as "gluten free." Some of these foods are okay, but many others are simply new versions of the same old problems--essentially carb-loaded junk foods. They're the equivalent of wearing a pink beehive into a law office; can't help, probably hurts, maybe a lot.
So while the jury is still out on the effectiveness of gluten-free diets, one thing is certain: The six foods on this list aren't going to do you--or your belly--any favors. Banish them from your diet now and you'll have less nutritional closet-cleaning to do later.
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6. Worst Gluten-Free Cookie
Glow Gluten-Free Gingersnap Cookies (2 cookies)
- 220 calories
- 12 g fat (5 g saturated)
- 16 g sugars
If you're looking to indulge without too much remorse, gingersnaps are often the way to go. Ginger naturally packs a flavorful punch without tacking on the caloric heft of chocolate chips, nuts, or candy pieces. Unfortunately, just two of Glow's cookies contain as much saturated fat as 10 McDonald's Chicken McNuggets and more calories than seven Nabisco Ginger Snaps! Enjoy Life uses fruit juices, dates, and applesauce to help sweeten and soften its cookies while keeping fat and calories to a minimum.
Eat This Instead!
Enjoy Life Eat Freely Soft Baked Gingerbread Spice Nut & Gluten-Free Cookies (2 cookies)
- 120 calories
- 4 g fat (0 g saturated)
- 10 g sugars
(Craving chocolate instead? That's why we put together our list of 6 Genius Junk Foods.)
5. Worst Gluten-Free Bread
Aleia's Gluten-Free Farmhouse White Bread (2 slices)
- 8 g fat (0 g saturated)
- 36 g carbohydrate
- 4 g fiber
Aleia relies on a combination of eggs and canola oil to bind its loaves, which means more fat and calories per slice. Build a sandwich on this bread, and you'll be on your way to a belt-busting lunch before you've even added toppings. Instead, Udi's bread cuts calories by a full third, and it's bolstered by a substantial 6 grams of fiber and 5 grams of protein.
Eat This Instead!
Udi's Gluten-Free Millet-Chia Ancient Bread (2 slices)
- 5 g fat (0.5 g saturated)
- 28 g carbohydrate
- 6 g fiber
What foods should you avoid? Start with these 25 New "Healthy" Foods That Aren't.
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