When it comes to dieting and eating ‘healthy’ there’s no end of confusion and misrepresentation on the market. There’s so many foods out there that are perceived as ‘diet foods’ but which actually WON’T help you lose weight. And even when we do get it ‘right’ – we invariably over-consume, making a good food, bad!
At the end of the day, it’s not just how many calories you consume that dictates your body mass and health, but also where those nutrients come from. So today here’s my Top 10: Deceptive Diet Foods. Have you fallen for the food manufacturer’s misleading ways?
1. Granola – For some reason this food remains constantly popular with outdoor types, vegetarians, and dieters. But guess what? It’s packed with calories and sometimes with sugar! Just a small ¼ serving can have up to 220 calories. I don’t know about you, but I don’t eat ¼ cup of anything. Natural or not, limit this crunchy treat and use it as a topping on yogurt, or even Jell-O!
2. Frozen Yogurt– Ice cream’s younger sibling packs nearly the same waistline punch! It may be slightly less caloric, with about 15% less calories on average, but it still has sugar and fat just like the real stuff. While it does provide active cultures, which are good for digestion, you still need to watch the portions. Truthfully, a serving of either ice cream or frozen yogurt is like apples and oranges in my opinion.
3. Avocado – Avocado is awesome in dips and on its own. But beware, while the fat provided is of the healthy variety, there’s a lot of it! Just one medium sized avocado has nearly 300 calories! So it’s best to mix in with salsa and sauces and be sure to just use a thin spread.
4. Whole Wheat Pasta – This one kills me! Most people are under the assumption that it’s okay to eat copious amounts of pasta as long as it’s whole wheat. Wrong! Whole wheat varieties are only slightly nutritionally better than their white counterparts, and each ¼ cup still has 220 calories jammed into it. Make pasta a side dish and combine it with broccoli, cauliflower and other veggies to add bulk without the excess calories.
5. Olive Oil – We all know fried food is bad, but even healthy oil can add inches to your waistline. Oil is calorie dense, just 1 tablespoon has 120 calories of fat, so even though it’s a better option than the deep fryer, it can still be a diet buster. Stick with a cooking spray instead.
6. Fruit – This is the biggest diet impostor! And I see more people trying to lose weight and failing due to eating bowls of fruit than anything else. Simply stated fruit is sugar, period. Yes it’s natural, yes it’s nutritious, but for those looking to lose a few pounds, watching their intake of fruit works wonders. Try sticking with the less-calorie dense varieties like apples, pear, strawberries and peaches. I’d also suggest combining them with other foods and eating them early in the day.
7. Fat Free Anything – When fat free products hit the market, America’s obesity rate skyrocketed. Being fat free usually means loaded with sugar and chemicals, and also generally these foods have a higher glycemic index – meaning they raise your blood sugar faster than their full fat counterparts. That creates unstable energy levels, you get hungry again quicker, and you end up eating more. Seems hard to believe, but regular ice cream, cookies, and milk are actually a better bet in the long haul.
8. Salad – This is a uniquely deceptive diet food because it can be either too low, or too high in calories. Lettuce itself has virtually zero calories and no real nutrition to speak of, but what you put on it, and in it, changes the nutrition rates quite rapidly. Oftentimes I hear of people just eating lettuce with vinegar, or with bacon, cheese, and ultra fattening dressings. Neither is a good choice – be sure to include a lean protein, minimal toppings, and just enough dressing to provide taste and flavor. Become a salad master!
9. Bagels – I know many of you know this one, but trust me when I say people still believe bagels are healthy food. The deli bought varieties can contain about 500 calories – before you put anything on it! This is just residual ignorance left over from the 80’s when muffins were also promoted as ‘health foods’. If you must eat a bagel, scoop out the dough and use minimal cream cheese, butter etc., or try one of the newer, healthy, slim varieties found in the market.
10. Jerky – I’ve seen this used as a diet food for years because it’s considered a high protein food. But most varieties are loaded with preservatives like sodium nitrate, and full of salt. Try looking for brands that are organic or low in salt and preservatives. Not to mention, jerky is quite costly and far exceeds a serving of protein from chicken, fish, or lean red meat.
What do you think of my deceptive food list? Do you have any to add? I’d love to hear them.