A lot of foods may appear healthy or low in calories, but can actually add a significant amount of calories, sugar, and fat to the diet. Even seemingly healthy meals such as a soup and salad can pack a high amount of calories and fat. Being aware of these counterfeit foods can make a big difference in weight management. To help you navigate the battle of the bulge, here are the most common diet-busting foods.
1. Salad Additions- Fresh vegetables in a salad are healthy and good for your diet. It's the additions such as bacon bits, croutons, full-fat cheese, and salad dressings that can sneak loads of extra calories and fat into your meal. When ordering a salad, skip the additions and ask for the dressing on the side. Limit yourself to about 1 tablespoon of salad dressing.
2. Cream Soups- Water- and broth-based soups are low in energy density (contain a small number of calories in a large amount of food). These soups can help you feel full on fewer calories and control hunger while losing weight. However, cream and milk-based soups, such as chowders, are packed full of fat and calories and detrimental to your diet.
3. Dried Fruits and Nuts- Dried fruits and nuts are packed with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and healthy fats. However, they're both high in energy density (contain a large number of calories in a small amount of food). A typical serving should be limited to a handful of dried fruits or nuts, or about 1/2 cup. By watching your portion size, these foods can be diet-friendly.
4. Sugar-Free and Low-Fat Foods- Sugar-free or low-fat foods do not necessarily mean fewer calories or no calories. Many people mistakenly believe that a sugar-free or low-fat food means that they can eat large portions of that food. Since it all comes down to calories, check the package label to find out the number of calories per serving.
5. High-Calorie Beverages- A cup of coffee or a glass of juice or soda may not seem like they contain a lot of calories. Of course, black coffee doesn't contain any calories. However, coffee additions can add up to many calories, depending on the ingredients. Some extravagant coffee drinks can contain more than 500 calories per cup. Juice and soda can also add up over the day, up to 200 calories per cup.
6. Breakfast Bars and Granola- Although they may look healthy, many breakfast bars and granolas are packed with extra sugars and fat. Check the package label for actual calories per serving, fat content and added sugars (such as high-fructose corn syrup). Choose those foods that are low in fat, sugar and calories.
Gavalas E. Yogi in the Kitchen, New York, NY: Penguin Putnam Avery, 2005.
Hatfield H. Diet-Busting Foods That May Surprise You, October 24, 2005, WebMD: