If You’re Watching Your Weight — Not To Mention Your Lifeline — Stay Away From These Foods
You know that if you have it in your house, you will eat it. And the more you eat it, the more you want it. That’s why you should keep these foods out of sight and out of mind as much as possible to begin with. Besides, they’re wreaking havoc on your New Year’s diet resolutions, not to mention your health.
Yes, the form makes a difference. A stick of margarine contains tons of trans fat, which increases bad cholesterol, lowers good cholesterol and increases chances of clotting. Plus it can contain 100 calories per tablespoon, which is what you were trying to avoid by eating an alternative to butter. Enjoy “soft tub” brands. There are dozens that offer trans fat-free, low calorie varieties.
They are tempting to make sandwiches with, but the calorie content sneaks up on you because of the density. Just consider all the air pockets in a slice of bread. No such pockets in a bagel! The standard bagel contains as many calories as 5 slices of white bread. Even most “whole grain” varieties have had most of the fiber and nutrients removed. Replace bagels with sandwich thins or whole-wheat English muffins.
Regularly eating processed meats has been associated with higher risks of colon cancer and heart disease. The scarier fact is that up to 80% of the calories in your typical hot dog come from saturated fat. If you’re a regular tail gater, remove these from your game day menu. Opt for turkey or chicken dogs instead.
You think it’s healthier than getting the candy, plus you’ve heard popcorn is a grain and that’s good for you. But movie-theater popcorn is popped in coconut oil, of which 90% is saturated fat. A simple medium can run you 1,200 calories before the buttery sauce is added. That’s the same amount of calories you get from eating three fast food burgers, and the saturated fat of a whole stick of butter. Just keep that image in your head next time you’re considering a flick snack.
Those commercials trick you: most of that density doesn’t come from more toppings, but more dough! (It’s cheaper for the makers) So you can be tripling your carb intake. Add the cheese, typically made with whole-milk (the fattiest kind!), plus the toppings, and two slices can run you 1,300 calories. Opt for thin crust. Skip the processed meat (we covered that in hotdogs) and load up with fiber-full veggies.
Shakes from ice cream stores
You think the shake or “smoothie” is the healthier option at an ice cream parlor, but remember: that shop is still putting their ice cream in that blender, plus other calorie-loaded ingredients. And since smoothies are so quick and easy to suck down, you don’t think about how full you’re getting before it’s too late. Most shakes or smoothies from ice cream stores can run you about 2,000 calories. That’s an entire day’s worth of calories. Just treat yourself to a scoop of your favorite flavor.
It’s not a bagel, or a pastry, so a muffin seems like a healthy breakfast alternative. But not the planet-sized varieties you find in most coffee shops and grocery stores today. Most of your favorite kinds—blueberry, raisin bran, coffee cake—run you about 600 calories. And admit it, you’re probably pairing that with a yogurt or some fruit. You could be consuming a 900-calorie breakfast, just by adding these tasty baked goods.
Flat bread salads
You think you’re being good by foregoing the sandwich for the “flatbread salad” with all those veggies and that grilled chicken piled high on top. But the density of flatbread, along with the oils it’s typically baked with, makes it much higher in calorie content than that sliced bread you were trying to avoid. If you actually eat up all those triangles, you could be having a 1,000-calorie “salad.”
“Whole grain” white bread
Many bread brands are banking on people who refuse to give up their beloved white bread by coming out with “whole grain” white bread—bread that promises to contain hidden fiber. But rarely does this bread have even half the fiber of real, 100% whole grain bread, and it still has all the unhealthy starches of white bread. It’s time to refine your palette and get used to real, dark, whole-grain bread.
Flavored energy bars
People love that they can get flavors like Peanut Butter and Cookies ‘N Cream and still be eating something with “energy,” “balance,” or “power” in the title. But the energy-providing components of these bars are cancelled out by the exuberant amounts of sugar—often as much as or more than that of candy bars—necessary to create those flavors you love.
Diet frozen meals
They have women raving about how “flavorful” these low-calorie meals are in commercials, but how do you think they get that flavor? Just because these meals are low in calorie doesn’t mean they aren’t packing other harmful components like 50% of your recommended daily sodium intake, plus high amounts of sugar.
Smart, Vitamin, Thin—whatever special variety of “water” you prefer, these brands tend to trick you with how they list their nutrition information. Calories will be listed at around 30 but the part you don’t read is how many servings are in a bottle. Usually there are 2.5 to 3, turning those 30 calories into 90 calories, and those 10 grams of sugar into 30 grams (nearly as much as a soda).
If microwave oatmeal tasted like real, slow-cook oats, people wouldn’t buy them: they don’t buy these so they can sacrifice texture and flavor. That’s why most varieties come in those tempting flavors like brown sugar and apple cinnamon. But one little packet can have as much sugar as a toaster pastry—exactly the kind of breakfast you were trying to avoid. Buy slow cook oats and just get up ten minutes earlier to make them.
You think: great—artichoke hearts that won’t go bad! But those aren’t natural flavors you taste. Most canned produce is drenched in sodium and sugar-filled marinades. Always look for unflavored, unsalted or “in water” labels.