In your quest for overall health and wellbeing, you and your doctor may decide that weight loss should be one of your goals. The CDC has some basic tips on weight management like how to balance diet and activity and information on calories to help get you started.
But, while a lot of diet-based weight-loss tips are pretty much common sense, others are not as obvious, and some even seem counter-intuitive. Then there are the things that seem like they are healthy but might actually be sabotaging your weight loss. One important thing to keep in mind when making nutritional choices is understanding how to read food labels. When you know how to do this, the following things might make a bit more sense.
Before your next grocery shopping trip and meal prep session, check out these nine “healthy foods” that you may want to think twice about putting your cart:
Smoothies might seem like the perfect healthy breakfast or snack. However, if you are not careful these concoctions can be packed with hidden sugar, especially if you get the smoothie from a restaurant or juice shop instead of making it yourself. If you are hooked on the idea of smoothies, make sure to make them yourself or get them from somewhere that lists the actual ingredients and they line up with some basic rules: the only sugar or sweetener should come from real/whole fruit, there should be a healthy protein or fiber source to help fill you up and fuel you for the day ahead.
Even when making them at home and keeping a close eye on the ingredients you use, you should still be careful with smoothies and blended fruits and veggies. Eating foods in their natural state will deliver the best nutritional value. Eating fruit whole instead of blended is also better because it takes longer to consume, and that leaves you feeling more satisfied.
2. Pre-Packaged “Low-Fat” Items
A few decades ago “low-fat” was all the rage in weight loss fads. This made many people associate low-fat foods with healthy eating. On its face, the theory that low-fat would mean lower calorie might make sense; a gram of fat has twice as many calories as a gram of protein or carbs. But, it turns out that low-fat foods are not really lower in calories than full-fat varieties. Also, full-fat foods might keep you fuller longer. Additionally, low-fat or fat-free foods are often high in refined sugar.
3. Fruit Juices
Like smoothies, fruit juices can be packed with sugar. Even when the sugar is completely naturally derived from fresh pressed juice, it’s still unnecessary because the main nutritive part of the fruit has been eliminated during juicing. Fiber is eliminated when you juice fruit and this is one of the most beneficial parts of eating the whole fruit. Fiber not only aids in digestion, but it also helps you feel fuller than juice alone.
4. Salads at Restaurants
When you are eating healthily and trying to control your diet to lose weight, going out to restaurants can be tricky. You might think you are safe ordering a salad off the menu rather than a burger or fried food. However, many restaurants load up their salads with things that make them just as high calorie and unhealthy as that burger and fries. Salads might have less nutritious greens like iceberg lettuce and can be topped with fried chicken, bacon, croutons, cheese, candied nuts, and fatty dressing. If you are trying to lose weight, salads should have a mix of leafy greens, lean protein, and any dressing should be light and used sparingly. If you do order a salad, be sure to ask for your dressing on the side so you can control the portion.
5. Nuts, Seeds and Other Foods with Healthy Fats
These snacks are in fact, very healthy. So, you don’t need to cut them out of your diet completely. People who eat nuts can live longer and lower their cholesterol. The thing you need to watch out for with these foods is portion size.
Avocado is another great food that falls into this category. Along with the healthy fat, avocado has plenty of potassium, fiber and magnesium. These are all important nutrients to get whether you are trying to lose weight or not. Avocado is also recommended as a smart alternative to oil on top of a salad. But because a single avocado can contain an average of 300 calories, you should limit yourself to one a day.
Nutritionists advise choosing either avocados OR nuts and seeds when trying to lose weight because they have similar nutritional value so you may want to avoid having full servings of both in the same day if weight loss is your goal.
Because of the convenience factor and the protein content, yogurt is often one of the first foods people reach for when trying to eat healthily. That includes healthy eating with the goal of weight loss. There are a lot of yogurts on the market specifically geared towards people trying to lose weight. But, like with a lot of foods on this list, you need to look out for a few things when choosing a good yogurt.
Look for yogurts with no added sugar and pay close attention to how many grams of sugar are inside. Also, be wary of any artificial sweeteners. As we’ll see later, those artificial sweeteners can hinder weight loss. That means a lot of blended fruit yogurts or yogurt with fruit on the bottom will be out of the running. Your best bet will be to choose a high-quality plain yogurt and add small amounts of fresh whole fruit yourself.
7. Artificially Sweetened Foods
One trap people fall into when trying to lose weight is switching sugar for artificial sweetener. Some studies suggest that artificial sweeteners may be zero-calorie, but can induce glucose intolerance. This metabolic condition is associated with obesity and type 2 diabetes. So, there’s no real way to get around giving up sugar. To satisfy a sweet tooth, get creative. Whole fruits, nut butters, sweet potatoes, or even cinnamon are some great alternatives.
Hummus is generally a healthy snack and a good plant-based protein. It has low cholesterol and saturated fat, but sometimes it can get in the way of weight loss. Why? Because store-bought versions often contain added oil and added oil mean unnecessary calories without added benefits.
Granola is thought of as healthy because it can be a decent energy source on the go, but if you’re not careful it can sabotage your weight loss goals. Most off-the-shelf granolas are just oatmeal enriched with oil and sugar. This makes it taste great but adds a lot to the calorie count. Instead of granola, you can try steel cut oatmeal in the morning. This variety of oatmeal takes longer to cook but the flavor is preferable to traditional rolled oats for many and is a filling meal. Or like smoothies, make your own granola at home.
Need Additional Help?
If you can keep away from these common weight loss traps, you have a greater chance of successfully reaching your weight loss goals. For more personalized guidance with making a weight loss plan and tools to help you follow through, Total HealthcareMD is here to help. We can not only help you achieve and maintain a healthy weight but improve your overall quality of life. For more information, call (919) 436-3777.