If You’re Watching Your Weight — Not To Mention Your Lifeline — Stay Away From These Foods

February 13, 2013  |  
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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.

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Stick margarine

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.

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Bagels

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.

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Hot dogs

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.

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Movie-theater popcorn

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.

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Deep-dish pizza

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.

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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.

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Planet-sized muffins

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.

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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.”

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“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.

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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.

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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.

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“Special” water

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).

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Microwave oatmeal

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.

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Canned…anything

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.

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  • chanela

    This article forgot to mention yogurt. go for the light yoplait yogurts instead of the original. the light usually has about 70 calories and 10grams of sugar. the original on the other hand, has 160 calories and 26 grams of sugar. i always thought i was being a good girl by eating yogurt but then i saw that it has as much if not more sugar than a candy bar. smh

    as far the protein bars try the ones by “pure protein” they have 30grams of protein and 1-3 grams of sugar. can’t beat that!

  • Miss D

    Everything in moderation. It’s ok to eat a bagel or a have milkshake on occasion as long as you know when to stop.

  • Blue01

    This is great! I am trying to gain, so this helps a lot. Thanks!

    • AnonyChick

      Trying to gain? lol Must be nice! lol (jk I know it might be a health issue)

    • Kahekili

      You should be trying to gain muscle, not weight from fat.

      • zara

        Truth! That stuff will kill you slowly.

  • KJ23

    This was an amazing list! I definitely bookmarked it, because I’m trying to lose weight now, and this really helped me to put some of my favorite foods into perspective.