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5 Foods That Destroy Any Diet

They are the five words every dieter dreads hearing: Wanna go out to eat? Eat This, Not That! knows the feeling.

What used to be a fun call to action is now a palm-wringing call to go and Google the restaurant's menu to see if they have any low-carb, gluten-free, kosher, Paleo options—a meal to make you feel OK.

Fortunately, we've compiled this go-to list of restaurant staples to avoid, and others that'll keep you slim—and full—at the sushi place, cafe, dessert spot and more. Incorporate them into your diet, and relax. Studies show worrying makes you fat.

Diet-Destroyer #5

soy sauce

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Soy Sauce
Japanese sushi purists scoff when they see Westerners drowning their fish in puddles of soy muddied with a mound of wasabi. They should: A single tablespoon of soy sauce has over 1,000 mg of belly-bloating sodium. At a reputable sushi spot, the chef will serve the fish exactly as it's intended to be eaten, which means hands off the soy.

Eat This Instead

Spanish Mackerel
Oft-overlooked for more glamorous fish like salmon and tuna, the humble mackerel has twice the amount of heart-healthy, inflammation-reducing, cancer-fighting omega-3 fatty acids as salmon, making it one of the healthiest fish at the sushi restaurant.

Diet-Destroyer #4

taco salad

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Taco Salad
It's a huge fried tortilla shell with ground beef, cheese, sour cream and a few token shreds of iceberg lettuce. The result: 900 calories, 55 grams of fat and perhaps the most liberal use of the word "salad" ever.

Eat This Instead

Chicken Fajitas
A heap of onions and peppers is a plus, and the chicken adds the protein. But keep this sizzling skillet from breaking the calorie bank by skipping the cheese and the sour cream—it will save you 300 calories and 15 grams of fat. To slice additional calories, ask for just one tortilla and stuff it full. Have leftover veggies and chicken? Eat it with a fork.

Diet-Destroyer #3

bran muffins

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Bran Muffins
One of the great health food imposters, bran muffins are simply excuses to get you to eat cupcakes for breakfast. Each can deliver about 440 calories, with nearly a quarter of them coming from fat. Also avoid the scones: The rich, flaky taste comes from gobs of butter, flour and sugar, adding up to 500 calories a pop.

Eat This Instead

Egg and Cheese Sandwich
An egg and cheese sandwich usually comes in under 400 calories no matter where you go, as long as it's not on a bagel. Plus, the protein hit helps temper your appetite as the day wears on.

Diet-Destroyer #2

cubed tofu

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Tofu is a block of soybean curd, and soy is high in naturally occurring chemicals called phytoestrogens, which have the opposite effect of testosterone, and can influence our hormonal balance and lead to weight gain. Enjoy it occasionally, but don't make it your staple if you're going meat-free.

Eat This Instead

Tempeh and Quinoa
While not technically a meat replacement, quinoa is a good non-meat source of protein. One cup contains 8 grams. And tempeh is made from fermented soybeans, but unlike tofu, it uses whole soybeans, so it's denser than its spongy cousin. This density makes it a better protein source with 18 grams compared to 9 for the same amount of tofu (100 grams).

Diet-Destroyer #1

frozen yogurt

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Non-Fat Frozen Yogurt
Beware of non-fat yogurt: the fat is usually replaced with a lot of sugar. In the battle between two evils, sugar is the nastier of the two. And it adds up once you throw on the toppings. One half-cup of Pinkberry's Peanut Butter, for example, is 140 calories—pretty good for a frozen treat. But if you add some roasted hazelnuts, mochi and Nutella, your ½ cup is now 340 calories—or almost exactly what you'd get from two scoops of Baskin-Robbins Cookies 'N Cream in a cake cone.

Eat This Instead

Frozen Yogurt with Fresh Toppings
Use the smallest cup size, and don't go above the brim. Don't stop to consider that waffle cone, either—bowls and cones made of food just increase empty calories. Then add walnuts—all nuts are healthy, but walnuts are especially so, for their high levels of healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Other winners: fresh cut fruit (not the sugary canned stuff) and just one candy (not three).

Eat This, Not That!
Inspired by The New York Times best-selling book series, Eat This, Not That! is a brand that's comprised of an award-winning team of journalists and board-certified experts, doctors, nutritionists, chefs, personal trainers, and dietitians who work together to bring you accurate, timely, informative, and actionable content on food, nutrition, dieting, weight loss, health, wellness, and more. Read more about Eat This