dark chocolate squaresFor the past 20 or so years, there's been no getting away from fat-free, low-fat, no sugar added, low-carb labels. We've just added fuel to the fire by thinking we're all suffering from celiac disease and having to worry about pesticides, hormones, and GMOs, so now we've also gotta sort through gluten-free, GMO-free, rBST-free labels. Even if you're not trying to lose weight, it's enough to make your head spin. But when you are trying to lose weight, the mix of advice out there can feel especially confusing. Especially because many foods that used to be considered "bad for you" and no-nos while getting in shape have actually proven to be integral to slimming.

I feel like there was a fork in the road at which I sort of had to face my fears about some of these foods -- and come to the harsh realization that many of them might not be as evil as I grew up thinking.

When I was a kid and a teen who had to watch her weight, fat-free and low-fat snacks were the obvious choice for dieters. I didn't look at sugar or carbs or even the ingredients nearly as much as I do today. It didn't matter. The more fat, the "worse" the food had to be, right?

Ha, my how times -- and I! -- have changed. In the time that's passed since then, the diet world has evolved through plans like South Beach and Paleo ... many of which encourage us to eat good fats, like olive oil and avocado. I swear by bananas with some almond butter as a pre-workout snack in the morning, when I used to worry about bananas being "too high carb/sugar" and any kind of nut butter being way too high fat. Similarly, I've found there's nothing wrong with indulging your chocolate craving by having a small square of 70 percent cacao dark chocolate after dinner. It's a whole new world!

More from The Stir: Constant Snacking Helped Me Lose 10 Pounds in a Month

One I love in part because it's a world that acknowledges that there's not one "buzz phrase" that works for us all. I genuinely believe there are some people who can cut out gluten and drop a quick 10 pounds, while others might need to dial back on dairy or really consider reducing their sugar intake. But overall, I feel like we've gotten better at realizing and research has shown balance and moderation is key to getting rid of unwanted pounds for good. We should never be deprived. And we should have a serving of that guacamole, that trail mix, that whole grain bread. It's not cheating -- it's just eating healthier, more whole, and more satiating foods. And I'll take any of these real, ex-"evil" foods over a "low-fat," processed snack any day. 

What are some formerly "bad" foods you've found are actually good for your weight loss/maintenance?

 

Image via Fiona Wilkinson/Flickr