From Cronuts to macarons to sriracha-on-everything, every year a few new food trends infiltrate your Instagram feed with zero remorse. And 2016 hit our bellies with full force. Yes, some hip items can easily be a part of a healthy diet — we can’t get enough of the Hawaiian favorite poke bowls or superfood lattes (turmeric, matcha and shrooms, who knew?). But not all trendsetters have taken note about what makes a wholesome meal. While these eight highly ‘grammable food trends may make your mouth water, we found out what they’re really packing on the inside. And it ain’t pretty.
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2016’s Unhealthiest Food Trends
1. Rainbow Bagels
Estimated calories: 310 (plain) to 560 (with Funfetti cream cheese)
No doubt, the famous Rainbow Bagels from The Bagel Store in Brooklyn are total eye candy. Slather on a shmear of Funfetti, cookie dough or cotton candy cream cheese, and you have a guaranteed Insta-hit. Unfortunately, these beauties are packed with artificial food dyes, and the accompanying spreads are chock-full of (you guessed it) sugar and artificial flavors. Take a tip from us: Opting for a whole-grain bagel with a bit of plain cream cheese (or a couple eggs and a slice of nitrate-free turkey bacon if you’re hangry) will do your body a few more favors.
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2. Black Tap Milkshakes
Estimated calories: 1,600
Gone are the days of a simple chocolate shake topped with a dollop of whipped cream and a cherry. Everything-but-the-kitchen-sink milkshakes are this year’s Cronut, and none are bringing more boys (and girls) to the yard than Black Tap in New York City. Endure the hour-long wait and you’ll get a gravity-defying mountain of ice cream topped with peanut butter cups, lollipops, cotton candy, or even entire slices of cake. (Yes, CAKE.) When the $15 sugar high wears off, these super shakes are guaranteed to send your blood sugar into major disarray.
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3. Ramen Tacos
Estimated calories: 476 to 1,368 (depending on fillings)
Last year was all about the Ramen Burger, but expect to see Ramen Tacos popping up everywhere this year. Each one features a full brick of ramen cooked until tender and then fried into a taco shell shape. While the Ramen Taco can certainly pack on the carbs (around 50 grams just for the noodle shell alone), it’s the amount of sodium in each serving that might be more concerning. Each ramen “tortilla” contains about 500 mg of sodium. Add in taco fillings, and you’re approaching 50 percent of your daily recommended sodium intake. Trust us — you’re better off sticking with traditional tacos and (on a separate occasion) enjoying a bowl of ramen the way it was meant to be eaten!
4. Over-the-Top Bloody Marys
Estimated calories: 395 to 2,289 (depending on add-ins)
We can get on board with a stalk of celery, some pickled veggies and even a slice of bacon. But topping our favorite brunch drink (hello, antioxidant-rich tomato juice!) with a slider or an entire fried chicken? That’s bloody sacrilege (and an estimated 395 calories and 2,289 calories respectively). A typical Bloody Mary made with 1 shot of vodka and 4 ounces of Bloody Mary mix can come in as low as 125 calories — not bad for an alcoholic drink. But as soon as you start piling on the “garnishes” the calorie count — and sodium content — skyrockets. Cut calories by keeping your meal on your plate, and avoid excess sodium by making your own drink mix at home (sans salt).
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5. Tricked Out Donuts
Estimated calories: 400 to 995 (depending on variety)
Donuts are no longer a semi-sweet breakfast treat to dunk in your morning cup of Joe. These days, you’re more likely to find coffee beans on top of your donut — or with a heaping mound of Fruity Pebbles, Oreos and M&Ms. Bakeries countrywide have started topping these pillowy fried circles of dough with anything and everything, including entire candy bars, slices of bacon and yes, gobs and gobs of indiscretion.
And it’s not just gourmet bake shops whipping up these sugar grenades. Even chains like Doughnut Plant are getting on the crazy train such inventions like the Blackout Cake — a chocolate cake donut filled with chocolate pudding, dipped in chocolate glaze and topped with chocolate cake crumbs — that we’ve estimated at 400-plus calories and 20 grams of sugar (almost your entire recommended sugar intake for an entire day).
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6. The Oreo Overload Bagel
Estimated calories: 828
This scary-sweet concoction from The Bagel Nook in Freehold, NJ is the ultimate indulgence for any cookies-n-cream fanatic. A vanilla and chocolate swirled bagel with Oreos baked into the dough is slathered with cookies-n-cream cream cheese and sandwiched with whole Oreo cookies. Not satisfied with this Oreo-filled indulgence packed with more than 40 grams of sugar and 80 percent of the maximum recommended daily intake of saturated fat? The Bagel Nook is also home to concoctions like the Coco Puff and Captain Crunch bagels.
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7. Sushi Burger
Estimated calories: 576 to 1,168
Sure, a burger made from rice, raw fish and various other toppings might turn out healthier than a few beef patties slammed on a greasy grilled bun, but it’s still a higher calorie and carb choice than enjoying sushi in the traditional roll form! The rice-based bun used in most sushi burgers calls for a full cup of rice, which contains about 340 calories alone. Add in meaty fillings and the calorie count jumps even higher. If your trendy side really can’t resist, opt for a version light on the mayonnaise-based sauces and filled with sashimi instead of fried bits of goodness.
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8. Rainbow Lattes
Estimated calories: 130 (skim milk) to 220 (whole milk)
There is nothing wrong with indulging in the occasional coffee shop latte. But some of these colorful creations take the simple mix of milk and espresso to a dangerous place with a hefty dose of artificial food dyes. If you’re dying to get paint by numbers in your cup, we recommend making the trip to Melbourne’s Too Many Chiefs, originator of the all-natural (and eep, caffeine-free) “rainbow coffee” made from turmeric, beet root and matcha. Or, take a tip from us and save the pretty colors for a plate of fresh fruit to accompany your morning coffee.
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Originally published June 2016. Updated December 2016.