So-called unhealthy foods you should be eating

When it comes to healthy eating, nutritionists are the experts. They are specially trained in how to take in the optimal balance of nutrients. When we think of nutritionists, we often think of a glowing young woman who has a green smoothie for breakfast, packed salad for lunch, and some roasted vegetables for dinner.

Sure, maybe she spends some days like this, but most are a balance of all the food groups. Nutritionists also know a little secret. Food is not good or bad. It has no morality. We are not good for eating a salad or bad for eating a pizza. In fact, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics has stated that classifying certain foods as 'good' or 'bad' only leads to confusion and unhealthy eating practices.

They also know to avoid the fad diets. The guidelines for a 'healthy diet' are constantly changing. Eggs are evil. No wait, they're actually full of nutrients. Carbs will make you fat. Oops, but you need them for energy.

We could all learn a little something from nutritionists when it comes to balance. Follow along for 10 foods that you thought were unhealthy, but are actually good for you.

Eggs

Notice we said eggs, not egg whites. Yes, you can eat the yolks! A whole egg contains 6 grams of protein and only 70 calories. The egg yolk itself is a rich source of choline, which is an anti-inflammatory nutrient. It not only protects from neurological disease, but also helps produce those happy chemicals like serotonin and dopamine.

If you've been sticking with a little granola or fruit in the morning with the hopes of dropping a few pounds, don't be afraid to add some eggs to your plate. In fact, a study in the International Journal of Obesity found that dieters who ate eggs for breakfast lost a whopping 65 percent more weight than those who had a bagel with the equal amount of calories!

Eggs are healthy, but omelets loaded with cheese and cooked in butter are not. Spray a pan with extra virgin olive oil and throw some veggies in your scramble. Start with some diced onion, bell peppers, and spinach.

Potatoes

Potatoes and all their carb friends were put on high alert with the low-carb craze of the 90's. It's time to bring them back! Like we said, nutritionists know to avoid the fads, because we can enjoy all our favorite foods in moderation.

Potatoes are loaded with nutrients like vitamin C, vitamin B, iron, potassium, and fiber. They also contain the new nutrition buzzwords, "resistance starch." This type of starch gives us that full feeling, but the body does not digest and absorb it.

Enjoying a baked potato or oven-baked fries will not derail anyone's diet. The secret is to be choosy with toppings. Nutritionists are experts at this. They choose a small amount of one or two of their favorites, then load up with veggies. Try a dab of butter or sour cream, then some steamed broccoli. One potato contains about 160 calories.

Pasta

Nutritionists know that they can still enjoy their favorite foods, just with a few simple tweaks. Don't ditch pasta all together. Whole grain pasta is a great source of energy and fiber. Just aim to match the same amounts of pasta and vegetables on your plate. Some vegetables that pair well with Italian dishes are onions, peppers, zucchini, spinach, and broccoli. Balance out the starch of the pasta with some healthy fats like olive oil or nuts and lean protein like chicken or fish.

Beer

You don't have to skip happy hour with your coworkers to live a healthy lifestyle. Your favorite nutritionist is not avoiding the bar at all costs. She's just being smart about portions. Beer is a rich source of carbohydrates and antioxidants. For women, moderate drinking is no more than one drink per day. Having one beer per day might even lower your risk for heart disease and stroke.

Coffee

Many of us beat ourselves up for feeling dependent on caffeine, but maybe it's time to stop. In moderation, coffee can absolutely be part of a healthy diet. Not only is it loaded with antioxidants, but it's been linked to a lower incidence of type 2 diabetes.

Now notice we said coffee, not a double caramel macchiato with whipped cream. Opt for black coffee with a little non-fat or nut milk. Skip the sugary creamers. They never taste as good as the name sounds anyways.

Avoid the jitters by limiting yourself to one cup each morning. After that, switch to water to hydrate. You could always add in a cup of tea for that afternoon slump.

Raisins

We often hear to steer clear of dried fruit, because of their sugar levels. Fresh is always best, but don't pick the raisins out of your trail mix just yet. Unlike other dried fruits, raisins don't have added sugar or fruit juice. Grapes are not tart like cranberries, so they don't need any added sweetness.

Just remember that portion sizes are still important. One cup of grapes is equal to about one-fourth cup of raisins. Toss some in with your yogurt, nuts, or celery snack in the afternoon.

Peanut butter

Yes, peanut butter is high in fat, so portions are important, but don't give up on your beloved PB&J just yet. Studies have shown that people who eat peanut butter regularly are actually healthier overall. Peanut butter is high in protein, keeping you feeling full. Make sure to opt for natural peanut butter. Other kinds are full of junk like high fructose corn syrup and trans fats.

Bread

The next time your dieting friend practically slaps the waiter for bringing a bread basket to the table, share the good news with her. Bread is not the enemy. In fact, bread can be incredibly nutritious and will not sabotage your weight loss efforts – if you select the right kind.

Stick with whole grain bread because it contains all parts of the kernel, which means it contains all the natural nutrients. Refined (white) bread has been stripped of the bran and germ. The bran and germ contain most of bread's fiber and vitamins.

Bacon

Like with any decadent food, small portions are the way to go. Bacon gives food a rich, smoky flavor, and you don't need much to taste it. Nutritionists don't deprive themselves of the foods they love most. Bacon has gotten a bad rap because it is high in saturated fat. However, the Women's Health Initiative, which studied over 20,000 women, found no evidence that a low-fat diet protected against heart disease. In fact, enjoying some fat in your diet will help you feel full and satisfied and is even associated with improved weight loss.

If you're a bacon addict, try using it as a topping instead of the main course. For breakfast, make a veggie egg scramble, then sprinkle half a slice of bacon over your plate. Vegetables cooked with a little bacon are unbelieveable. Toss some in with your brussel sprouts or green beans.

Birthday cake

Yes, birthday cake and sugar cookies and pastries are still okay to eat. The trick is to enjoy them on special occasions. Nutritionists know when the splurge is worth it and go for it. This keeps them from feeling deprived and hungry. We've all felt that smug satisfaction of passing on dessert at the party, only to go home and eat an entire pan of brownies. Treat yourself when it's worth it and pass when it's not. According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, all foods can fit into a healthy diet when consumed in moderation, in small portions, and when paired with exercise.

By allowing yourself to still enjoy your favorite foods once in awhile, you'll start to strike that healthy balance the nutritionists enjoy.