Have you already been dieting but aren’t seeing the results? No matter what you’re doing to lose, gain, or maintain weight, it’s always important to know what’s good and bad food for you. Though the difference between healthy and unhealthy foods may be fairly simple to distinguish, it’s actually not as straightforward as you think.

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It’s easy to get confused with the many food options available in the Middle East. Below, however, are the foods most people don’t know are actually bad for you.

1. Fat-free Foods

Foods You Didn't Know Were Bad For You

Foods with the ‘fat-Free’ labeling are usually the most misleading info. Fat-free or fat reduced often means that the food is heavily processed. It is because foods that are fat-free or fat-reduced may become bland, tasteless or less appealing. It leads to refined and unnatural additives add up in your food. So if you actually break down the nutritional content, fat-free foods may be higher in calories and unhealthy ingredients.

2. Diet Soda

Foods You Didn't Know Were Bad For You

Diet sodas are popular because not only do they contain no sugar, but if you check the nutritional label, they are also extremely low in calories. As the name suggests, diet sodas are a popular alternative than regular sugary sodas. Though low in sugar, diet sodas have an abundance of added chemicals and artificial flavors that can do damage to your body in the long term. The best solution to curbing soda consumption is to stop it altogether.

3. Margarine

Foods You Didn't Know Were Bad For You

As we all know that butter is high in saturated fat and isn’t the best choice for your toast or cooking ingredients, margarine comes as its healthy alternative. Margarine indeed has significantly less fat than butter, but that doesn’t make it healthier. Butter is made of natural sources. Margarine, on the other hand, is made from multiple vegetable oils and chemicals to make it look and taste good.

4. Breakfast Cereals

Foods You Didn't Know Were Bad For You

It needs to be clear that not all breakfast cereals belong in the unhealthy category, only most. Breakfast cereals are usually marketed as a healthier breakfast choice. Cereal is extremely popular in the UAE and all over the world for its convenience to prepare as well as an abundance of vitamins, minerals and health pros such as ‘whole grain’, ‘low fat, as well as ‘high fiber’. The fact of the matter is, most breakfast cereals are heavily processed with added chemicals, artificial additives, and refined grains.

5. Dried Fruits & Veggies

Foods You Didn't Know Were Bad For You

Dries fruits and vegetables are pre-packaged and extremely convenient to eat as there is literally no preparation time. Unless you’re making you’re own dried fruits and vegetables, most of the pre-packaged sort are loaded with added salts and sugars. Fyi, dried fruit and vegetables will never look good, or taste good compared to when they’re fresh.

6. Protein & Nutrition Bars

Foods You Didn't Know Were Bad For You

Before we talk about protein and nutrition bars, let’s make it clear we cannot assume all of them are bad for you. Protein and nutrition bars can have an abundance of healthy nutrients such as protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals. The downside with protein and nutrition bars is that they’re not just highly processed with additives, but also high in calories and can make you gain unwanted weight.

7. Processed Fruit Juices

Foods You Didn't Know Were Bad For You

Fruit juice is one of the most common food and beverage items discussed when it comes to anything to do with diet. Although there are multiple upsides in terms of fruit juices, the general consensus call it is bad for you. Fruit juices that state they are 100% pure juice as well as being organic, are still likely to have added sugar. If you check the nutrition labels, most fruit juices have the same; if not more calories than regular sodas.

Things to Keep in Mind

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  • Moderation is the key. Should junk food be avoided at all costs? Only if you can. As we’re all human, it’s okay to eat a little junk food now and then but knowing how much we can eat is the key. Have a bit, at every occasion while maintaining a healthy diet is the best way to go.
  • Exercise is still essential for any diet. You need to be exercising regardless of what you’re eating. The UAE has an abundance of fitness resources such as parks, walking tracks, as well as recreational gym facilities. So regardless of whether your diet is clean or dirty, you should be incorporating some form of physical activity in your lifestyle.
  • Watch what you eat. The best way to know what your body is consuming is by checking nutritional labels when possible. This can help you to count your calories, ensuring a balanced diet, as well as monitoring all the little additives, ingredients you didn’t know was present. By having a better understanding of foods, you won’t be misled by other foods that didn’t make this list of foods you didn’t know were actually unhealthy.

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