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BY: Dawn Jackson Blatner, R.D.
“But I’ve been eating so healthy.” If I had a buck for every time I heard one of my patients say that over the years, I’d be writing this from a second home on the beach. Seriously, about 2 of every 3 dieters who seek nutrition advice from me think they’re already eating well and can’t understand why their weight won’t budge or drop more quickly.
But when I ask them to show me the food log they’ve kept, the truth comes out. For the most part, my patients aren’t getting fat by eating ice cream sundaes and Fettuccine Alfredo -- those are obvious weight loss wreckers. Instead, they should be watching out for these sneaky diet spoilers:
Sneaky Diet-spoiler No. 1: Low-fat or Non-fat Foods
Products that are labelled “baked,” “light” or “fat-free” seem like they must be good for you. The truth: Many baked chips and light salad dressings contain only 20 or 30 fewer calories than their full-fat counterparts. While your heart cares about how much fat is in a product, your thighs don’t -- they just want calories, and lots of them. So when you’re opting for these diet foods, I’m sorry, but you can’t eat twice as much and still lose weight.
Sneaky Diet-spoiler No. 2: Snack Packs
It’s common for my patients to eat three or four snack packages every day! I used to think they were a wonderful way to control portions, but it’s easy to go overboard. In fact, in a recent series of five studies, researchers at the University of Michigan found that when a product was labelled as “small,” people felt less guilty about eating it. If you’re a fan of snack packs, keep the empty bag around until the end of the day as a visual reminder that you’ve already had one.
Sneaky Diet-spoiler No. 3: Healthy Fats
Packed with antioxidants and heart-healthy monounsaturated fats, olive oil, nuts and avocados are super-foods for sure. But they’re also loaded with calories. Just 1 tablespoon of olive oil greases you with 120 calories; 20 little peanuts also contain the same amount. So be sure to measure out proper portions rather than pouring directly from the bottle or grabbing a handful of nuts from the bowl.
Sneaky Diet-spoiler No. 4: Juice-Based Beverages
Smoothies are healthy, right? Not when they’re 400 calories a pop -- like they are at many juice bars. Even a large glass of OJ at breakfast will set you back 200 calories. Since calories from beverages don’t make you feel as full as calories from food, fill up instead on healthy food that will keep you satisfied, and save juices and smoothies for an occasional treat. My strategy: I squeeze a little lemon or OJ into water for extra flavour, and snack on pieces of fruit, like an orange (60 calories), a peach (40 calories) or a banana (100 calories).
Dawn Jackson Blatner, R.D., is a registered dietitian and the author of The Flexitarian Diet. This is her first article appearing inOral Care and Health Daily (Australia & New Zealand).
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