‘Diet’ Foods That Make You Fat, and How to Make Them Healthier

There is often more to diet foods than meets the eye. Unfortunately, many recipes that are deemed nutritious contain unhealthy ingredients that are high in sodium, fat, and calories, causing you to unknowingly eat dishes that are detrimental to your diet. To help you sift through the many recipes that claim to be healthy, we’ve compiled six healthy-sounding dishes that may be ruining your waistline, and their more nutritious counterparts.

1. Turkey burgers

a turkey burger

Turkey burgers sound nutritious, but they can be high in calories and fat. | iStock.com

Upon first glance, Cooking Light’s feta-stuffed turkey burgers may sound like a great dinner option. After all, ground turkey is much healthier than ground beef, and the vegetables and fat-free yogurt also appear to be solid choices. However, the nutrition facts reveal that this dish isn’t as healthy as it sounds. One turkey burger contains 386 calories, 13.7 grams of fat, 4.5 grams saturated fat, and 897 milligrams of sodium.

To help put this in perspective, The Dietary Guidelines for Americans suggests limiting your daily sodium intake to less than 2,300 milligrams. You should reduce your intake to 1,500 milligrams if you are 51 and older, African American, have high blood pressure, diabetes, or chronic kidney disease. Rather than risk consuming too much sodium, prepare Betty Crocker’s grilled cheese-stuffed burgers instead. You’ll get the same great cheesy flavors, but with less sodium and fat and fewer calories. One turkey burger contains 290 calories, 7 grams of fat, 3 grams of saturated fat, and 440 milligrams of sodium.

2. Chicken stir-fry

chicken stir-fry

Chicken stir-fry can have a lot of hidden calories. | iStock.com

Consisting of lean meat and nutritious veggies, AllRecipes’ chicken stir-fry probably seems like a healthy dish to enjoy for lunch or dinner. Unfortunately, it isn’t. One serving contains 700 calories, 12.1 grams of fat, and 1,790 milligrams of sodium. This doesn’t mean you need to swear off stir-fry, though. For a healthy dinner you can feel good about eating, prepare Eating Well’s lemon chicken stir-fry, which is filled with zesty flavors and vibrant colors.

This recipe calls for several reduced-sodium ingredients and cuts down on calories by omitting rice. Don’t worry; thanks to this dish’s fiber-packed vegetables and lean protein, you won’t need any rice to help fill you up. One serving of this stir-fry contains 223 calories, 7 grams of fat, and 555 milligrams of sodium.

3. Salmon


Salmon is nutritious, but watch what you’re pairing it with. | iStock.com

Filled with omega-3 fatty acids, salmon is a diet-friendly food that is great for your heart. Unfortunately, when paired with the wrong ingredients, this nutritious fish does more harm than good. For example, take a look at this honey and soy glazed salmon via Epicurious. While the salmon and honey offer notable nutrients, a look at its nutrition facts reveals that each serving contains a staggering 1,036 milligrams of sodium.

The ingredient causing most of this damage is the soy sauce; WebMD notes one tablespoon of soy sauce can contain up to 1,024 milligrams of sodium. Instead of eating a sodium-riddled supper, prepare Food.com’s salmon with honey and mustard glaze instead. The recipe uses one tablespoon less of soy sauce, which reduces this meal’s sodium content to 541.4 milligrams.

4. Whole-wheat blueberry pancakes


Pancakes are delicious, but they’re not usually good for you. | iStock.com

Driscoll’s blueberry whole-wheat pancakes appear to be a great way to start your day, especially since one serving contains 4 grams of fiber and 17 grams of protein. But it also has more calories, fat, and sodium than you may be bargaining for — 477 calories, 18.56 grams of fat, 9.27 grams of saturated fat, and 654 milligrams of sodium. Instead, get your day off to a truly healthy start by making Health’s whole-wheat blueberry pancakes.

A serving size has 212 calories, 6 grams of fat (none of which are saturated), and 286 milligrams of sodium. This dish also has 4 grams of fiber and 6 grams of protein. While Driscoll’s recipe does have more protein, you can easily make up the difference by topping your pancakes with Greek yogurt. Cooking Light notes that one 6-ounce container has 15 grams of protein.

5. Omelet


Omelets are full of protein, but watch what you put in them. | iStock.com

There’s no denying that eggs are nutritional powerhouses. They’re a great source of choline, a B-vitamin complex that is associated with reduced inflammation and better neurological function, states The Huffington Post. Eggs are also a great source of protein and are high in sulfur, which helps with vitamin B absorption, liver function, and collagen and keratin production. Since eggs are so nutritious, it’s only natural to assume that Sunset’s folded cheese omelet is a healthy meal to kick-start your day.

Unfortunately, when whipping cream, butter, and cheese are thrown into the mix, this potentially nutritious dish turns out to be a diet disaster. One serving contains 520 calories, 44 grams of fat, 23 grams of saturated fat, and 836 milligrams of sodium. A much healthier alternative is Cooking Light’s Southwestern omelet. One serving has 181 calories, 5.5 grams of fat, and 2.3 grams of saturated fat.

6. Waldorf salad

waldorf salad

Waldorf salads seem healthy, but don’t be fooled. | iStock.com

Chock-full of healthy ingredients, including apples, walnuts, and raisins, Taste of Home’s crunchy Waldorf salad appears to be a delicious and nutritious dish to enjoy for lunch or dinner. While it contains plenty of nutrient-rich items, this salad is also coated in fattening mayonnaise. As a result, one ¾ cup serving contains 299 calories, 26 grams of fat, and 3 grams of saturated fat.

Kitchen Parade presents a more nutritious and less fattening alternative with this healthy Waldorf salad, which uses nonfat vanilla yogurt in place of mayonnaise. One cup has 115 calories, 4 grams of fat, and no saturated fat. This nutritious dish certainly won’t derail your diet!