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The Top 8 Bad Foods….That Aren’t So Bad

When someone says to you that you need to start eating healthier, what do you think? Chicken, rice, and salads all the time? If your mind instantly starts going to vegetables, fruits, chicken, and limited carb options, you aren’t alone. This is what most people think of when they think of healthy eating. The unfortunate…

Dieting or good health concept.You have to choose between apple and chocolate

When someone says to you that you need to start eating healthier, what do you think? Chicken, rice, and salads all the time?

If your mind instantly starts going to vegetables, fruits, chicken, and limited carb options, you aren’t alone. This is what most people think of when they think of healthy eating.

The unfortunate fact of the matter is that this is what puts many people off eating healthier in the first place. They think it’s going to be way too torturous to stick to a healthy diet plan, so they’d rather just forgo it entirely.

The thing to remember is that there are different spectrums of healthy. There’s purely healthy and excludes all unprocessed foods. Chicken. Apples. Broccoli. Spinach. Almonds. And so on. Those foods are unquestionably healthy choices.

Then there are foods that are a bit less optimal, but still good choices. Whole wheat flour tortilla’s, flavored canned tuna, bran flakes, and so on.

These foods, while processed, still contain a lot of nutrients.

Then there are foods that are moving further along the scale. Pizza, burgers, and nachos for instance. While they definitely have some bad things going for them, they still do contain nutrients.

Then you have your worst offenders. Candy. Soda. Cake. Pie. These foods are made up of mostly just sugar and/or fat. That’s about it. These are foods that really just do you no good.

If you want to eat healthier, you really only need to stay away from the worst offenders. Then if you can learn which of the quote-on-quote unhealthy foods do still have some health benefits going for them, indulge on those from time to time, and then try and eat purely healthy food the rest of the time and you’re set.

So with this said, let’s go through the list of our top healthiest ‘bad’ foods that you may want to consider adding back to your diet if it will help you stay saner.

1. Bring On The Burgers

The Good:

On the good side of the scale, a juicy burger is going to offer you some protein and will also provide some iron as well. These are two nutrients that many people in today’s world really struggle to get into the picture because they are too focused on cutting out red meat to try and be healthier.

Having a burger from time to time won’t kill you – in fact, it may just help you out. You need that protein to help with repairing and rebuilding muscle tissue and you also need the iron to help keep your energy levels up and prevent iron deficiency anemia.

It’s important to remember that iron is actually best absorbed when it comes from animal food sources than plant sources¹.

The Bad:

Onto the bad… most burgers do come with a bun, which is white and highly processed. This will spike your blood glucose levels, but the good news is that because you have the protein and fat there, this will help slow that increase down.

Second, burgers are typically quite high in cholesterol, so if heart health is something that you are concerned about, this definitely means that you should watch how often you are eating these.

Finally, the calorie count is quite high. Your typical burger will be upwards of 500 calories, so if you were to pair that with fries and a soda, you’d easily tally over 1000 calories.

How To Make It Work:

To make burgers work, here are a few tips.

· Try a topless burger. It’ll slash the processed carbs and still taste great.
· Opt for one patty only. No need to get carried away.
· Avoid any special sauces, which typically only add extra calories and fat.

2. A Piece Of Pizza

The Good:

Pizza is a long-time favorite for many and the good news is you can indulge, without so much guilt. When you stop and think about it, pizza actually contains all the food groups.

You have your meats in whatever protein topping you put on (assuming you don’t opt for vegetarian). You have your grains with the crust, you get your dairy with the cheese, and you have your fruits and veggies (make sure you do add vegetables!).

So overall, it’s a very well balanced food. Pizza will help control blood sugar levels quite well, give you some protein, and also provide you with some of the calcium you need.

The Bad:

The bad news is that pizza can be quite oily and is higher in total fat content. Because it’s also higher in carbs as well, this means it’s not the high fat friendly food that you may eat if you were using the ketogenic diet for instance.

Likewise, pizza is also quite calorie dense, but the good news is that if you limit yourself to just a single slice, you won’t be taking in THAT many calories. You’ll be looking at around 250-350 for the average slice.

One slice is an acceptable addition to most people’s day. Four slices are not.

How To Make It Work:

To help make pizza a part of your day, try these ideas:

· Limit yourself to just one slice as noted above
· Choose leaner sources of protein such as chicken, shrimp or ham over beef, bacon, and pepperoni
· Add as many veggies as possible – and possibly some pineapple
· Try and choose thin crust if you can. This will significantly cut down on the carb content

3. Handful Of Chicken Fingers

The Good:

You may not have had chicken fingers since you were a kid, but what adult wouldn’t love to dive into some chicken nuggets?

Even if you aren’t a fan of chicken, chances are you love these. The good news is that they do contain real chicken, so that’s a plus. They have the high-quality protein that your body can definitely use to help rebuild muscle tissue.

The Bad:

The bad news is they are breaded and deep-fried, so there’s that. Definitely less than optimal. But if you can know your brands and choose the ones that contain not as much breading, you’ll be off to a good start.

How To Make It Work:

To help add chicken fingers or nuggets into your diet, try one of these smart techniques:

· Remove some of the breading. You can actually detach it, leaving just chicken and limiting how much you actually take in.
· Choose less bulky breading. The thinner that breading is, the fewer carbs it contains
· Dab some oil off the nuggets/fingers. If they’re oily, dab, dab, dab.

4. Pass The French Fries

The Good:

French fries are another classic favorite for many and while it may come as a surprise, they actually aren’t the worst foods you could eat. They are made of potatoes and contrary to what some believe, potatoes aren’t totally terrible. Yes, the fries would be better if you had made them from sweet potatoes instead, but if it’s regular fries you are dealing with, it’s not the end of the world.

Regular French fries do contain fiber and also have some essential amino acids as well. If you struggle to get your protein intake up to where it needs to be, this can actually be quite healthy for you.

While potatoes do rank high in on the GI index scale, if you are active, it’s actually beneficial to have some foods like this in your diet from time to time.

The Bad:

The bad news, however, is that french fries are deep fried and often are very oily, very fatty, and very high in calories.

Couple this with the fact that they have no protein and they can cause you to gain body fat quite quickly.

The problem with eating high fat and high carbs at once is that you can spike your insulin level, and if you have a lot of fat available with high insulin, this can promote fat storage more readily.

How To Make It Work:

To make French fries work, here are some tips and tricks:

· Use the dab trick. Again, the more oil you can blot off, the better.
· Serve with protein. Always eat your French fries with a protein source to help slow down that insulin release. This will also help you eat fewer fries overall.
· Keep your French fries thick. The thicker the fry, the more potato and less deep fried crusting you get. Thicker cut fries will contain more nutrition than thinner cut fries.

5. Granola Bars On The Go

The Good:

A granola bar can be a fast option when you’re heading out the door for work. While we’re typically told to avoid granola bars because they are overly processed, you may actually be able to add them in.

The good news is that many contain nuts or seeds, which provide healthy fats and some do contain whole grains like puffed rice or oats.

The Bad:

Most granola bars are high in sugar and contain no protein at all, therefore are not considered a complete meal or snack.

They may also be very processed and some are made with white flour, which can spike blood glucose levels.

How To Make It Work:

To make your granola bar work, it all comes down to choose healthily and pairing it wisely.

· Opt for a granola bar that is a seed/oat based bar. No flour crust filled with jam or fruit. You want a true granola bar.
· The more nuts and seeds the better. This will help add healthy fats and slow down the blood glucose spike
· Pair your granola bar with a protein shake. This will complete the nutrition and help you stay sustained longer. Plus it only takes a few seconds to do.

6. Why Not White Rice

The Good:

White rice, while often regarded as a poor food choice because it’s ‘white’ not brown, isn’t really as bad as people think. When you stop and look at the fiber content of brown rice, you’ll quickly come to see that it’s really not that much higher than white rice is.

In addition to that, white rice is very easy for your digestive system to handle, so if you are someone who suffers from bloating or gastrointestinal distress quite regularly, white rice can actually be a good staple for you.

Also, if that’s a real issue for you, you might want to consider using a quality digestive enzyme product such as MassZymes as well.

The Bad:

The drawback of white rice is that it really doesn’t have a ton of dietary fiber. Even brown rice doesn’t have that much either, so there are simply better options you could be choosing (like sweet potatoes for instance).

Additionally, it contains no fat or protein, so it’s very important that you eat it with something to help prevent a blood glucose spike.

How To Make It Work:

· Focus on always pairing your white rice with a protein on the side
· Add veggies to your meal to boost your fiber intake

7. Have A Savory Steak

The Good:

Have you ever avoided steak because you thought it was too fatty? Too much of a heart disease risk? Too high in calories?

It’s time to rethink that! With steak, the main thing you need to concern yourself with is your selection. Choose the wrong cut of beef and yes, you will be facing a risk of increased heart disease.

Choose a leaner cut however like sirloin steak and you really aren’t taking in that much fat. In fact, if you opt for grass-fed beef over grain fed, you’ll actually get some healthy fats in your diet plan. This type of fat is CLA, which can help accelerate fat burning and improve heart health².

On top of that, steak also provides you with a high-quality source of protein as well as the iron that we mentioned when we spoke about burgers, so for those reasons alone, it’s a good one to include from time to time.

The Bad:

If you choose the wrong cut of steak, you will take in a hearty dose of fat and cholesterol, both of which are less than optimal for your health.

How To Make It Work:

To make steak work for you is really quite simple: choose right and cook smart.

· The best cuts to eat of beef include sirloin tip, top round, eye of round, bottom round, and top sirloin.
· Always opt for grass-fed beef if you can.
· Grill it or lightly pan fry. Don’t coat it in butter or excess oil

8. For the Chocolate Lover

The Good:

Ahh, chocolate. Who doesn’t love it? Chocolate is a favorite for just about everyone but something you almost always feel guilty after eating.

If you opt for the classic Oh Henry bar, Mars bar, or Snickers, then yes, you probably should feel a bit guilty. But if you opt for a dark pure chocolate bar or one with nuts added, you can actually indulge guilt free.

Chocolate has a high level of antioxidants³, will provide some healthy fats, and may even help boost your immune system as well. Not to mention, it puts you in a good mood (but you didn’t need me to tell you that!).

The Bad:

Chocolate is high in calories, so you do need to limit how much you eat. If you eat a full bar, you will take in over 200 calories, so it can put a dent in your daily diet.

How To Make It Work:

· Limit yourself to just a few squares
· Opt for the darkest chocolate you can find to minimize sugar content while maximizing the antioxidant content.

So there you have some of the best tips to know and remember when it comes to fueling your body well and still enjoying the foods you’re eating. Not every food that you love needs to be avoided. You can eat well and still maintain good health as long as you are wise with your approach.

Keep these in mind as you go forward on your quest to eat healthier and enjoy your food.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Are burgers really unhealthy?

Not all burgers are. If you choose leaner cuts of beef, thinner patties, and watch your condiments, you can still eat a burger and maintain good health.

Do I have to eat healthy to lose weight?

Losing weight does come down to how many calories you consume, so if you eat unhealthy choices but keep your calorie level in check, you can still see weight loss. Keep in mind however you may not be as healthy as you’d like.


1. Hallberg, L., et al. “Dietary heme iron absorption: a discussion of possible mechanisms for the absorption-promoting effect of meat and for the regulation of iron absorption.” Scandinavian journal of gastroenterology 14.7 (1979): 769-779
2. Park, Yeonhwa. “Conjugated linoleic acid (CLA): Good or bad trans fat?.” Journal of food composition and analysis 22 (2009): S4-S12.
3. Waterhouse, Andrew L., Joseph R. Shirley, and Jennifer L. Donovan. “Antioxidants in chocolate.” The Lancet 348.9030 (1996): 834

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