10 Worst Food Tips

Some foods are so bad for you, they qualify as a nutritionist's nightmare. WebMD asked several registered dietitians and other food experts to nominate their favorite "food horrors". Their submissions ranged from empty-calorie foods masquerading as nutritious, to outlandish concoctions that tip the scales with obscene amounts of fat and calories. Have any of them ever lurked around your plate?
  1. Frightful Fried Foods

  2. From a nutritional standpoint, some of the scariest foods are the deep-fat fried concoctions you can find at carnivals and state fairs. Americans have tossed everything from turkeys to Twinkies in the fryer, but have you ever heard of deep-fried cola? Debuting at the Texas state fair -- and winning the creativity honor at the Big Tex Choice Awards contest -- was this deep-fried, Coca-Cola flavored batter, drizzled with cola fountain syrup, and topped with whipped cream, cinnamon sugar and a cherry.
  3. Scary Steakhouse Specialty

  4. Nutritional nightmares are readily available at many of your favorite neighborhood restaurants. Christine Palumbo, RD, nominated the deep-fried onion appetizer popular at some chain steakhouses. One such appetizer, Outback Steakhouse's Bloomin' Onion, has more than 800 calories, 58 grams of fat and 22 grams of saturated fat, plus 1,520 milligrams of sodium. These numbers don't include the dipping sauce, which is also loaded with fat, calories, and sodium.
  5. Monstrously Misleading

  6. Marion Nestle, PhD, MPH, a New York University nutrition professor and author of What to Eat, takes issue with not-very-nutritious foods that are labeled or advertised with healthy-sounding terms. She nominates "kids' fruit snacks that have no fruit whatsoever and are basically candy in disguise" as one potentially misleading food.
  7. Big, Bigger, Biggest Burgers

  8. There appears to be no end to the amount of calories and fat you can fit onto a bun. Hardee's has the Monster Thickburger, boasting 1,420 calories, 107 grams (g) of fat, 45 g of saturated fat, and 2,740 milligrams (mg) of sodium. Carl's Jr. takes it a step further with the Double Six Burger, featuring two burger patties and three slices of cheese -- weighing in at 1,520 calories, 111 g fat, 47 g saturated fat, and 2,760 mg sodium. Burger King is not far behind with its BK Stacker, loaded with four burgers, four slices of cheese, and 8 strips of bacon, coming in at 1,000 calories, 30 g saturated fat, and 1,800 mg sodium.

    And the list doesn't end at fast-food chains. Ever hear of the "Hamdog"? This culinary creation from the former Mulligan's Tavern near Atlanta starts with a hot dog padded with cheese and half pound of ground beef. That's dropped in the fryer, then loaded onto a hoagie roll and topped with chili, bacon, onions and a fried egg. Mulligan's was also famous as the home of the "Luther Burger," a giant bacon cheeseburger with a Krispy Kreme doughnut for a bun.

    Someone call the food police! Of course, "most people know when they order one of these that it is not good for them," says Jayne Hurley, RD, senior nutritionist for the watchdog group, Center for Science in the Public Interest. If you are thinking of your health, try ordering a plain burger with sauce on the side, along with a side salad.

    The bottom line is that we should eat no more than 20 grams of saturated fat per day. The U.S. Department of Agriculture's 2005 Dietary Guidelines recommend no more than 2,300 mg of sodium per day (equal to about 1 teaspoon). If you're salt-sensitive (that is, if your blood pressure is highly affected by salt), the number drops to 1,500 mg.
  9. Appalling Appetizers

  10. Dietitian Cynthia Sass, RD, nominated TGI Friday's "sizzling triple meat fundido -- a combination of cheese, pepperoni, bacon, and sausage served with breadsticks." While nutritional information for this appetizer was not available on the restaurant's web site, the fat-laden ingredients ensure that the fundido is a nutritional no-no.
  11. Calorie-Laden Cakes

  12. As if cheesecake were not high enough in fat and calories, the Cheesecake Factory adds chocolate candy, cookies, mousse, ganache, flourless chocolate cake crust, and other equally caloric extras to the rich dessert, says Jayne Hurley, RD. Even if you're just ordering a plain slice, cheesecake will set you back 630 calories. Looking for a little nosh with your coffee? Starbucks Old Fashioned Crumb cake looks innocent enough, but that little square packs 670 calories.
  13. Diet-Demolishing Drinks

  14. The real problem with high-calorie drinks is that they go down easily, and don't tend to fill you up. "Coffee drinks and smoothies don't set off bells and whistles to alert you to the calorie load," says Hurley. "Starbucks' white chocolate mocha is a Quarter-Pounder in a cup; any Frappuccino Blended Creme has 490-580 calories; and a venti Java Chip Frappuccino has the equivalent of 11 creamers and 20 packets of sugar. To reduce the calories in your favorite coffee drink, order a small size, make it "skinny" (with low fat milk), and skip the whipped cream.
  15. Mammoth Mall Munchies

  16. Most people know when they order a gigantic burger that it is not good for them. But what really scares Hurley are the not-so-obviously fattening foods that people snack on at the mall. "The highly aromatic cinnamon used in a Cinnabon (810 calories) or the smell of Mrs. Field's milk chocolate macadamia cookie (320 calories) tempts mall goers into thinking nothing of eating a snack that has half a day's calories or fat," she says. Bring along a 100-calorie pack of crackers, some trail mix, or raw veggies to help you resist the tantalizing aromas of such high-calorie mall treats.
  17. Dining-Out Diet Disasters

  18. "Fifteen years ago, when I first started evaluating restaurant food, I was blown away by the 1,500 calories in a serving of Fettuccine Alfredo, but the trend has gotten worse, not better," says Hurley. Fried macaroni and cheese and cheese fries were other nominees in the category of frightening foods found on restaurant menus.
  19. Stupendous Servings

  20. It's not just fast-food meals that have been super-sized in the last couple of decades. "Muffins, bagels, salads, sandwiches, pasta servings -- almost everything is much larger today than it used to be or needs to be," says Hurley. "You can expect most restaurant appetizers, entrees, and desserts to each weigh in around 1,000 calories." Here's a sure-fire way to start your day off on the wrong dietary foot: the enormous omelet sandwich at Burger King. This fork-free meal is loaded with two slices of cheese, three slices of bacon, two eggs, and a sausage patty on a giant bun, totaling 730 calories and 47 g fat.

    Do Food Horrors Really Matter? Yes, dietitians say, there are some truly frightening foods out there. But do they really matter to the average American's diet? Michelle May, MD, author of Am I Hungry? What to Do When Diets Don't Work, thinks that once a person indulges in a decadent dessert or monster burger, it triggers the "'I've already blown my diet, so why bother?" mentality.

    Beyond that, May believes, the real horror may be the American mind-set about food. "We were raised to clean our plates so we could be rewarded with dessert, which further enhances our desire to eat sweets and eat meals without recognition of fullness," she says. Further, consider that many of the most frighteningly fattening foods are sold in restaurants. Americans now spend 48% of their food dollars in restaurants, according to the USDA Economic Research Service. And the most popular restaurant food eaten by both men and women is the hamburger, according to the NPD Group, a market research firm.

    Hurley thinks most people would think twice about ordering food and drinks that they realize are "hideously high in fat and calories." She'd like to see nutrition information about restaurant foods become more readily available, and believes this would encourage restaurateurs to offer more healthful options. "Let's give consumers the choice and educate them with the nutritional information of restaurant foods at the point of purchase, not the web site," she recommends.

    Published Oct. 27, 2006.

Did you know?

  • Dieting affects everyone even children in the third grade and younger.
  • The National Cancer Institute spent $400,000 in 1992 on a campaign to get Americans to eat more fruits and vegetables. The same year, Kellogg'€™s spent $32 million to advertise Frosted Flakes.
  • Two out of three high school girls diet to lose weight. One in five take diet pills.
  • Almost half of American women and a quarter of men try to lose weight by dieting.
  • Some researchers believe obesity itself isn'€™t a threat to health, but the unhealthy diet and sedentary lifestyle that can cause it are.
  • Benjamin Franklin said overeating was a sign of moral weakness. He advised people to €œeat for necessity, not pleasure.
  • Americans eat more vegetables than 25 years ago. But 25% of those vegetables are french-fried potatoes.
  • Compared to a standard Body Mass Index (BMI) 59% of American men and 49% of American women are overweight.
  • Plump women were once the norm in America. But by the late 1890'€™s magazines began to advertise diet remedies and rubber girdles to reduce the look of full figures.
  • Nine out of ten dieters regain all or more of the weight they've lost.
  • $34 to $50 billion: the amount Americans spend on dieting each year.
  • The average American eats the equivalent of a stick of butter a day in fat- 8 times the recommended daily allowance.
  • 60% of the calories the average American consumes come from sugar and nonessential fats. This leaves only 40% of calories to provide all the essential nutrients.
  • Americans get 22% of their daily calories from snacks.
  • The idea of counting calories to lose weight began in the early 1900s with American chemist Russell Chittenden.
  • Half of girls ages 11 to 19 were getting less than 2/3 of the nutrients needed for normal growth and good mental performance according to a 1995 government survey.
  • About 90% of U.S. dieters are €yo-yo dieters.€
  • Girls who restrict what they eat are more likely to develop eating disorders than non-dieters.
  • Teens who diet usually skip breakfast. Studies have shown that not eating breakfast affects thinking and attention span.

10 Tips for Healthy Eating

  1. Consume 3 meals and 2-3 snacks a day. Eating every 3 hours helps to keep your metabolism(the rate at which your body burns calories) high.
  2. Stay away from processed foods
  3. Eat lean protein such as fish and chicken
  4. Always eat breakfast "break the fast"
  5. Add color to your meals
  6. Stay hydrated
  8. Keep fat calories low
  9. Plan meals ahead of time
  10. Add variety to your weekly meals

​​​​​Healthy Grocery List

If you are confused on what to purchase at the grocery store, look no further! Follow this list of healthy choices and you can't go wrong.


  • Each meal should contain a protein, fat, and a carbohydrate
  • Drink 96+ oz of water a day
  • >Eat 5-6 small meals per day (every 3-4 hours)


  • Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breast/Tenders
  • Tuna (Water Packed)
  • Extra Lean Ground Beef or Round (92-96%)
  • Protein Powder (100% Whey)
  • Egg Whites or Eggs
  • Ribeye Steaks or Roast
  • Flank Steak
  • Ground Turkey
  • Fish (Salmon, Seabass, Halibut, Talipia)
  • Shrimp

Complex Carbohydrates

  • Old Fashioned Oatmeal
  • Beans (Pinto, Black, Navy, Kidney)
  • Brown Rice
  • Farina (Cream of Wheat)
  • Sweet Potatoes (Yams)
  • Oat Bran Cereal
  • Wheat Pasta

Produce and Fruit

  • Cucumber
  • Onions
  • Tomatoes
  • Lemons or Limes
  • Apples
  • Blueberrries
  • Raspberries
  • Green or Red Peppers
  • Garlic
  • Zucchini

Fibrous Carbohydrates

  • Green Leafy Lettuce
  • Broccoli
  • String Beans
  • Bell Peppers
  • Cauliflower
  • Asparagus
  • Spinach
  • Brussels Sprouts
  • Celery


  • Crystal Light
  • Water


  • Reduced Sodium Soy Sauce
  • Balsamic Vinegar
  • Chili Powder
  • Steak Sauce
  • Chili Paste
  • Salsa
  • Sugar Free Maple Syrup
  • Mustard
  • Low Sodium Beef/Chicken Broth
  • Equal/Splenda

Healthy Fats

  • Natural Style Peanut Butter
  • Nuts (Peanuts, Almonds)
  • Olive Oil
  • Flaxseed Oil

101 Ways to Eat Healthy

  • Eat breakfast everyday
  • Trim the fat off meat
  • Use less salad dressing
  • Take your time when you eat
  • Read food labels
  • Eat less butter
  • Eat 5 meals everyday
  • Use nonfat yogurt instead of sour cream
  • Try healthier foods
  • Cut down on red meat
  • Eat 5 servings of fruits and vegetables everyday
  • Eat healthy snacks
  • Chose low-fat mayonnaise
  • Care enough about yourself to eat right
  • Eat whole-wheat bread
  • Make a healthy meal for your family
  • Eat the peel on apples
  • Plan meals ahead of time
  • Set eating goals
  • Use mashed peaches or strawberries instead of jelly
  • Eat raw or steamed vegetables
  • Get a low-fat cook book
  • Stay away from gravy
  • Eat a piece of hard candy instead of a candy bar
  • Use garlic or pepper instead of salt
  • Use low-fat cheese
  • Don't eat before bed
  • Stay away from caffeine
  • Chew your food well
  • Eat at the same time everyday
  • Drink 8 glasses of water a day
  • Use low-fat salad dressing
  • Chew sugar-free gum
  • Don't overeat
  • Eat low-salt pretzels
  • Use less salt
  • Ask your grocer to carry healthy foods
  • Buy foods low in fat and cholesterol
  • Broil hamburger for tacos and spaghetti
  • Put fruit on your cereal instead of sugar
  • Make a plan to eat healthy
  • Drink nonfat or low-fat milk
  • Eat at home more often
  • Only eat when you're hungry
  • Take the skin off chicken
  • Ask a friend to be your healthy eating buddy
  • Don't keep junk food in the house
  • Eat a variety of healthy foods
  • Eat fruit instead of sugar
  • Eat before you go out
  • Balance your diet
  • Make shakes with fruit and nonfat frozen yogurt
  • Snack on fruits and vegetables
  • Eat smaller portions
  • Make a list before you shop
  • Bake or broil food
  • Talk with your doctor about what you eat
  • Cut down on between-meal snacks
  • Eat fresh fruit for dessert
  • Order popcorn without butter
  • Combine fruit, veggies or whole grains with protein for an energy snack
  • Use egg substitutes
  • Sit at the table to eat
  • Watch fat grams-not calories
  • Enjoy the healthy hair and skin that eating right gives you
  • Eat less meat and more vegetables in your lasagna and pizza
  • Eat high-fiber cereal
  • Eat an energy bar instead of cookies
  • Drink juice instead of soda
  • Pack your lunch
  • Keep a food diary
  • Snack on apples and peanut butter
  • Don't crash diet
  • Budget your sweets
  • Eat about the same amount everyday
  • Choose nonfat frozen yogurt instead of ice cream
  • Eat whole grains
  • Start lunch and dinner with vegetables
  • Buy canned fruit in water instead of syrup
  • Use the energy your healthy diet gives you to workout
  • Don't eat on the run
  • Use cooling spray instead of oil or butter
  • Eat lots of greens
  • Buy low-fat peanut butter
  • Don't take more than you can eat
  • Make a healthy meal wit tofu and vegetables
  • Eat fruit instead of candy
  • Cut down on sugar
  • Don't eat when you're bored
  • Try tofu hotdogs
  • Choose fresh foods
  • Enjoy eating
  • Limit chocolate
  • Cut back on mayonnaise
  • Ask the cafeteria at school or work to serve healthier foods
  • Cook with olive oil
  • Use egg whites, not yolks
  • Split a big meal with someone
  • Eat a little junk food when your crave it
  • Be proud of yourself for making small changes
  • Add up the money you save by eating healthier​​​​​

Healthy Snacks

Snacks are an easy way for people to meet all of their nutritional needs and they often keep us from overeating at mealtime.

Daily Guidelines

  • Do not go longer than 3 hours without eating
  • Eat when you are truly hungry - do not deny yourself food if you are hungry
  • Consume a 100 calorie (or less) snack if you will be eating a meal within 1 hour
  • Consume a 150-200 calorie snack if the next meal is 1 1/2 - 3 hours away
  • Consume a 200-250 calories snack if the next meal is 3 + hours away
100 Calories or less
Piece of fresh fruit (size of tennis ball)
1 cup of Berries
3/4 cup applesauce
3/4 cup cherrios, 1/3 cup skim milk
1/2 cup of cottage cheese
1 cup sugar free jello
1 slice bread with 1/2 tbsp peanut butter
1/2 cup Kashi Go Lean Crunch (dry)
1/2 cup fat free-sugar free pudding
1 cup nonstarch vegetables w/ low fat dip
Fat free yogurt - some brands
100 - 150 Calories
1 cup non fat fruit yogurt
4 vanilla wafers and 1/2 tbsp peanut butter
1/2 cup cottage cheese, 1/2 cup fruit
3/4 cup cottage cheese
2 cups blueberries
1 slice bread with 1 slice cheese
1/2 cup sorbert
1 package oatmeal made with water
6 cups light butter popcorn
3 tbsp soy nuts
200 Calories
1 cup raisin bran and 1/2 cup skim milk
1 english muffin pizza
1 tbsp peanut butter with 6 ritz crackers
2 slices raisin bread
6 triscuits and 1 oz. reduced fat cheese
Nature valley granola bar
Snyders tortilla chips and salsa
2 slices bread and 1 slice cheese
1/2 turkey and cheese sandwich
1/4 cup nuts
1 banana or apple with 1 tbsp peanut butter
1 Luna bar or Balance bar
250 Calories
1/2 peanut butter and jelly sandwich
1 lean turkey and cheese sandwich
1 cup cottage cheese with 3 slices pineapple
1/2 cup chex cereal and 1/4 cup nuts
6 ritz crackers and 1 1/2 tbsp peanut butter

Sodium 101

Decoding labels

  1. Salt free: Less than 5 milligrams sodium per serving.
  2. Sodium free: Less than 5 milligrams sodium per serving.
  3. No Salt added: No salt added during processing; does not necessarily mean sodium free.
  4. Very Low Sodium: 35 milligrams or less sodium per serving.
  5. Low Sodium: 140 milligrams or less per serving.
1-150 mg per serving

Breads and Cereals

  • Breads, white, whole grain
  • Cakes, cookies, crepes, doughnuts
  • Cereals: cooked, granola, puffed rice, puffed wheat, Shredded Wheat
  • Crackers: graham, low salt, melba toast
  • Pasta: macaroni, noodles, spaghetti, rice

Dairy Products

  • Cheeses: cream, Monterey, Mozzarella, Ricotta, low salt types
  • Cream: half & half, sour, whipping
  • Ice cream, sherbet
  • Milk
  • Non-dairy creamer

Fruits and Vegetables

  • All fresh fruits and vegetables
  • Frozen fruits and vegetables (without sauces)
  • Vegetables, canned: low sodium or rinsed

Main Dishes

  • All unprocessed meats, fish, and poultry
  • Eggs
  • Peanut butter
  • Tuna: low sodium or canned that you rinse


  • Low salt products
  • Nuts, unsalted
  • Popcorn, unsalted
150-250 mg per serving

Bread and Cereals

  • Biscuits, rolls, muffins - 1
  • Pancakes - 1
  • Ready-to-eat cereals - 3/4 cup
  • Saltine crackers - 6
  • Sweet roll - 1

Dairy products

  • Cheeses - 1 oz
  • Cottage cheese - 1/2 cup
  • Pudding - 3/4 cup


  • Tomato and vegetable juice - 1/2 cup
  • Vegetables, canned - 1/2 cup


  • Corn chips - 1 cup
  • Potato chips - 1 cup
  • Snack crackers - 5-10​​​​​

Heart Rate Calculator

Measuring Heart Rate

Wearing a heart rate monitor is an easy, accurate method of checking your heart rate. If you don't have a monitor, you can take it manually.

The easiest place to feel your own heart beat is the carotid artery. Place your index finger on the side of your neck between the middle of your collar bone and your jaw line. (You may also use the radial artery on the under side of your wrist.)

You can count the beats for a full 60 seconds or count for 30 seconds and times the number by 2. The longer you count the more accurate your reading. Whatever you choose, be consistent in your method.

Your resting heart rate (RHR) is your heart rate first thing in the morning before any activity.
Calculation for Target Heart Rate
Target Heart Rate (THR)

(220) - (your age) = MHR

(MHR) - (resting heart rate) = HRR

(HRR) x (training zone %) = training range %

(training range %) + (resting heart rate) = (your target training zone)

Training Zones

Healthy Heart Zone (Warm up) --- 50 - 60% of maximum heart rate: The easiest zone and probably the best zone for people just starting a fitness program. It can also be used as a warm up for more serious walkers. This zone has been shown to help decrease body fat, blood pressure and cholesterol. It also decreases the risk of degenerative diseases and has a low risk of injury. 85% of calories burned in this zone are fats!

Fitness Zone (Fat Burning) --- 60 - 70% of maximum heart rate: This zone provides the same benefits as the healthy heart zone, but is more intense and burns more total calories. The percent of fat calories is still 85%.

Aerobic Zone (Endurance Training) --- 70 - 80% of maximum heart rate: The aerobic zone will improve your cardiovascular and respiratory system AND increase the size and strength of your heart. This is the preferred zone if you are training for an endurance event. More calories are burned with 50% from fat.

Anaerobic Zone (Performance Training) --- 80 - 90% of maximum heart rate: Benefits of this zone include an improved VO2 maximum (the highest amount of oxygen one can consume during exercise) and thus an improved cardiorespiratory system, and a higher lactate tolerance ability which means your endurance will improve and you'll be able to fight fatigue better. This is a high intensity zone burning more calories, 15 % from fat.
Red Line (Maximum Effort) --- 90 - 100% of maximum heart rate: Although this zone burns the highest number of calories, it is very intense. Most people can only stay in this zone for short periods. You should only train in this zone if you are in very good shape and have been cleared by a physician to do so.

Caloric Expenditure

Calories Expended During Certain Activities

Activity In 30 Mins Male (about 175 lbs) In 30 Mins Female (about 135 lbs)
Basketball 334 258
Biking 12 - 14 mph 334 258
Canoeing/Rowing - Moderate 292 225
Children's Games 209 161
Circuit Training 334 258
Dancing - Ballet, Modern 251 193
Dancing - General 188 145
Football 334 258
Frisbee 125 97
Gardening 209 161
Hiking 251 193
Horseback Riding 167 129
House Cleaning - Light 104 81
House Cleaning - Vigorous 188 145
Jogging 292 225
Kayaking 209 161
Mowing Lawn by Hand 251 193
Playing w/kids - Moderate 167 129
Running - 6 mph 418 322
Skating 292 225
Soccer 292 225
Softball/Baseball 209 161
Swimming Laps - Freestyle 334 258
Tennis 292 225
Walking - Leisure 146 113
Walking - 4 mph 167 129
Yoga/Stretching 167 129