…And if there's one processed food that truly lives up to its name, it’s Lean Cuisine. Even the higher-fat entrees like macaroni and cheese – which Jana Klauer, a physician specializing in nutrition in New York City and the author of How the Rich Get Thin
(St. Martin’s Griffin), says contains an impressive amount of protein – get the thumbs-up from many nutritionists, especially if you add a side of vegetables or a salad to improve the nutrient tally.
The Fake Sweets
A few years ago, nutritionists deemed white sugar the weapon of diet mass destruction. Many women turned to artificially sweetened drinks and desserts instead. It sounded like a win-win; same taste, fewer calories.
It turns out it’s not so simple. “Artificial sweeteners stimulate both a physiological and a psychological need for sweetness, making you crave more sweets. So you just end up eating more and more,” says Klauer. Making matters worse, artificially flavored foods are sweetened to a very high degree.
One especially popular fake sweet is Diet Coke. But despite much anecdotal evidence that would suggest otherwise, studies have shown that people who drink diet soda are fatter than those who drink the regular kind. Maybe it’s because the soda’s sodium had been causing them to retain water, “or they figure they’re saving calories by drinking diet soda, so they feel entitled to have a high-calorie treat later,” says Klauer, who lumps Diet Snapple in the same category as diet soft drinks. Instead of soda, Klauer recommends sparkling water. Because it’s carbonated, it feels like you’re drinking soda.