9 Foods You Thought Were Healthy, But Aren't

Back in the '90s, everyone decided fat-free diets were the best way to eat healthier and lose weight. So, people gorged on carbs and got even fatter than before. Now we know better, and surely we’ll never be wrong about what to eat ever again, right?! Just ignore the five fro-yo shops you'll pass on way home from work today, and then think wistfully about these nine other foods we wish we still thought were healthy. Ignorance really would be bliss right about now.

Lee Breslouer/Thrillist


This line of low-fat/no-fat cookies (remember Devil's Food Cookie Cake?), chips, and ice cream used to be so popular they couldn't keep them in stock at the grocery store. They were the supermarket version of the Beanie Baby, if you will. There was a time you could eat an entire box of cookies and still pretend you felt healthy. That time was 1993. Do it now and you know you're a disgusting pig.

A "complete" breakfast

Because you were 10 and your parents wanted five minutes of silence before you went back to terrorizing them, your siblings, and your poor hamster, they sat you in front of Saturday morning cartoons with "part of a complete breakfast." This included a cup of juice (100% sugar), a piece of fruit (nutritious, but also more sugar), a piece of toast (carbs), and then a pile of cornflakes covered in sugar and drenched in 2% milk. Such a shame that starting your day off with 400 tablespoons of sugar went out of style.

Sugar substitutes

I have a memory of watching commercials where people poured sugar substitutes on top of fruit. It didn’t matter that the food was naturally sweet. People were dumping the fake stuff on because it had far fewer calories than sugar and somehow made foods taste both artificial and so much more delicious. The party ended when there were some debates about its healthfulness. But it’d be nice to once again eat pure, unadulterated sweetness and feel that nothing bad (like cancer!) was ever going to happen.

Andrew Zimmer/Thrillist


No nutritionist in 2015 would tell you to start your day with a pile of white flour, dehydrated fruit, and sugar, but once upon a time, a muffin used to be considered a healthy, convenient breakfast option. It's actually an explosion of carbs and sugar detonating in your stomach.

Tropically themed "juice" in a box or a silver pouch

It tastes like juice, so it's basically juice! Except it's very much just sugar in a box. The telltale sign was always the ".1111% JUICE" disclaimer next to the ingredients. If your parents gave you that growing up, it's proof they didn't care about you. Then again, I always got the healthy drinks in my lunch (where are my JUST JUICE fans at?) and people made fun of me with such frequency that it ruined my self-esteem during lunchtime. That's probably a net negative.

"Enhanced" water

Back in the 2000s, I remember buying bottles of these drinks at my local bodega when I was feeling run-down. I believed the label's claims that it was packed with vitamins and minerals and would make me feel better! And it might have, not because the drink actually works, but because there's research to suggest that even the placebo effect can have a positive effect. On the downside, those drinks always pack in a ton of sugar. And apparently what we've learned in the last decade is that sugar's the devil.

frozen yogurt
Flickr/Selena N.B.H.

Frozen yogurt

A low-fat, ice cream-like substance covered in chocolate sauce, a million M&M's, sprinkles, and whipped cream? Sounds healthy to me. And to Americans in the '80s, '90s, and the more recent fro-yo boom of the aughts, it was!

Diet soda

Cola is one of the most delicious flavors ever concocted, and diet soda was invented so you could drink it absolutely guilt-free. Just like water, it doesn't have sugar or calories! Unlike water, it might cause you to gain weight, and we've already covered artificial sweeteners' bad reputation.

Low-fat, sugary yogurt

High-protein, full-fat yogurt with low sugar content is all the rage nowadays. But once upon a time, the exact opposite was true: low-fat yogurt packed with as much added sugar as a can of soda was de rigueur. All those '80s ladies working in corporate America took lunch breaks to eat a single-serving cup of yogurt that would power them through the rest of the day. Hell, the cocaine that everyone was snorting back then probably had less sugar, and therefore might've been healthier. But we don't know, we're not doctors!

Lee Breslouer is a senior writer for Thrillist and eats muffins for breakfast a few times a week. Follow him to muffin recipes at: @LeeBreslouer.