World’s Worst Diet Foods (and what they taste like)

The phrase “diet foods” is really a misnomer, and we all know it. These aren’t foods that you eat while trying to lose weight — at least, not for everybody. Instead, these are lower-calorie approximations of real foods. In college, finding these foods was like a hobby. It was probably the only hobby I’ve had that was even a little useful, actually. Considering a typical college Saturday would find me getting a diner breakfast sandwich at noon, snacking on Goldfish crackers while watching afternoon tv, getting Chinese for dinner, drinking until 2 a.m., then getting pizza and garlic knots — well, a few aspartame-laden cancer puddings probably offset things. Having the rapid-fire metabolism of a 19-year-old didn’t hurt, either.

So, yeah, diet foods are not really foods for being on a “diet.” And — well — they’re not really foods in the traditional sense. They’re factory produced food-equivalents. These are the worst of them:

Shirataki Noodles

One of my friends used to go to this website where they’d give you low-cal approximations of actual foods. Instead of pasta, they recommended these zero-calorie noodles. That’s right, ZERO! You know what else you can eat for zero calories? Air and water, both of which would be better than these. It’s no accident that “shirataki noodles” is a perfect anagram of “akin shit-loosed air” (or “one kilo sad shit-air” if you’re eating a whole lot).

You knew you were in for it when you read the caveat: “these may produce a slight fishy odor.” Know how smell and taste are connected? They tasted like fish noodles, too. If you boiled one of those curly phone cords after soaking it in a bucket of mackerel, it would taste like shirataki noodles.

Better’n Peanut Butter

What could be better than peanut butter?! I don’t know. Probably not this shitty spread that was made of like 50% crushed peanuts and 50% crushed hopes and dreams. Maybe, if I weren’t expecting this to be a little bit like peanut butter, it would have been okay. Maybe if my expectations were more on-point, it wouldn’t have tasted like peanut butter cut with plain gelatin and desperation. Just call this Creamy Self-Loathing Spread instead, and I’d be all over it.

Handi-Snacks Sugar Free Gelatin Dessert

If you have strep throat, and don’t think you deserve real Jell-O, and have a coupon or something, then I guess it’s okay to buy this. Otherwise, skip it. I actually like sugar-free Jell-O, but there’s something about the off-brand that you don’t have to refrigerate that’s just terrifying. The texture is jiggly and gummy all at once. I imagine if you added a Kool-Aid packet to that 90s toy where you could suspend an undersea diorama in a tiny tank, it would taste like this.

Diet Bread

At 45 calories a slice, it’s better not to think about this as bread in a traditional sense. After all, it does taste like reconstituted sawdust. It’s more of a vehicle — a vehicle to make it easier to swallow egg salad, sliced turkey, or your self-esteem.

Wegmans CoCo Lite Pop Cakes

Please don’t take this as me saying anything against Wegmans. I love them so. And, well, it is pretty fun watching these cakes pop out of the machine in the store! I’m sure there’s even a topping that makes these 20-cal disks taste good. I just haven’t found it yet. If you’ve been looking for a frisbee-sized communion wafer, then this is the snack for you! So if you want to pretend that you’re an elf or fairy receiving the Eucharist, you should probably buy these.

Low Fat Cream Cheese

If you like yourself enough to buy bagels, but hate yourself enough to buy low fat cream cheese, I don’t think I can help you. Or, maybe I can. Just go with neufchatel instead! I think it might be lower-cal than regular cream cheese, AND it doesn’t taste like cream cheese made with the way baby formula smells.

Light ‘n Fit Yogurt

This product’s ad slogan is “Eat Light ‘n Fit – Be Light and Fit!”. Sorry, no. Light ‘n Fit is about as likely to make you BE light and fit as it is to make you be yogurt. Just buy the Fage or Siggis. A friend said that yogurt tastes the way bad breath smells, and generally I disagree, but that’s the most apt descriptor of Light ‘n Fit I can think of.

Lest you think I sit around eating chemical-based food equivalents, let me set you straight. All of these purchases were a one-off after I realized how awful they were, and I really do eat a lot of whole grains and fresh veggies and quality vegetarian protein.

But, let’s be honest, I’m also drinking a giant bottle of Crystal Lite as I write this. I’m pretty sure it’s washing my insides in cancer. What can I say, old habits die hard.


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