Junk Food in Disguise
If you are trying to lose weight or stay healthy, there can be a lot of junk food minefields to avoid. Unfortunately, even so-called health foods can often have hidden calories and fat. See below for tips to separate the faux health foods from the real healthy choices.
When snacking, watch out for…
Since most of us at one point have baked homemade muffins or have at least seen the 2 lbs giant ones sitting next to the pastries at Starbucks, it is not surprising they can be loaded with sugar and fat and therefore high in calories. Things get a little more confusing, however, when the muffin has a healthy first name, “Bran,” “Banana Nut,” or “Carrot Ginger.” Unfortunately, a muffin by any name is still a muffin and although the healthy additions of fruits, bran, vegetables, or nuts incorporate some fiber into your meal, the fat and sugar still remain. A better way to start the day would be a cup of bran cereal and skim milk or fruit and low-fat yogurt.
Popping a handful of dried fruit in your mouth will provide fiber and vitamins, but also more calories than you’d expect. When fruit is dehydrated it becomes dense and smaller and yields more calories per cup, making it easy to down a lot before you fill up. For example, ¼ cup of dried cherries will set you back 140 calories, whereas 1 cup of the raw fruit will only cost you 88 calories. Also because dried fruit is often sticky and sugary it can cause cavities. So if you want to enjoy a whole bowl of fruit without feeling the slightest bit guilty, definitely reach for it in the raw.
If it’s packed with vitamins it must be great, right? Sadly, if you replaced your soda addiction with Vitamin Water you may still be drinking a good portion of your daily calories. A Vitamin Water has about 150 calories and a lot of extra sugar. And although you may see people at the gym downing it after a workout, you would need to run at least a mile to equalize those extra calories. Re-hydrating with real water is a simple, healthy, and calorie-free alternative.
The word granola has been associated with healthy, natural diets for decades making it seem an unlikely candidate for this list. However, even with its compilation of healthy nuts, grains, and fruits, it packs on the calories via added oil and sugar. A better way to get these nutrients would be to snack on raw fruit and nuts, or indulge in other equally nutrient rich cereals with much less calories like All-Bran, Kashi, or Fiber One.
When dining out watch out for…
Wraps are usually a great choice, but when you are eating out, no matter what healthy ingredients are advertised, you are probably getting more than you bargained for. The size of the actual bread part of the wrap is usually much larger than what you would prepare at home. And the more bread available, the more heavy condiments like dressing or mayonnaise that can be spread on and toppings like cheese you can fit in. If you decide to order a wrap, try to take control of the portion size and save half for later.
TURKEY BURGERS/ VEGGIE BURGERS
Like wraps, the real issue with ordering a veggie or turkey burger at a restaurant is the excessive portion size. Sandwiched between a gigantic bun, the large burger is often smothered with add-ons like cheese, mayo, and sugary ketchup or BBQ sauce. The best bet is to cook this food at home, forgo the bun, or make sure to order it without the extra toppings.
Dining on sushi can be a great way to work towards your daily vegetable and protein needs in a satisfying low calorie meal. But be careful, behind its seaweed covering, many rolls are secretly layered with mayonnaise, cream cheese, or fried food. One shrimp tempura roll can rack up about 500 calories. Dunk your roll in some soy sauce and you not only add more calories, but also a lot of unnecessary sodium to your diet. Next time you end up at a Japanese restaurant, make sure to avoid rolls with the words “spicy,” “fried,” or “tempura;” or when in doubt ask the server what exactly lurks inside your order. Also try opting for other delicious and healthy menu options at a Japanese restaurant such as hijiki salad, green salad, edamame, miso soup, or sashimi (sushi without the rice).
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