One of the worst feelings is when you think you're doing something right, and then it backfires. This holds true in healthy eating goals. There are so many food products marketed as “Healthy,” Low-Fat and “Nutritious” (we could go on and on) that it can be disheartening when you think you're making a good choice only to find out that your “healthy” choice is a calorie catastrophe. This doesn’t mean that adding in these foods to your diet is a no-no, just don’t be fooled into thinking you can splurge on them like you're at an all-you-can-eat buffet. Remember, moderation is the key!
Nuts and Seeds: Nuts are undoubtedly a great addition to a healthy diet. They are loaded with protein, healthy fats, and antioxidants, but don’t give nuts free reign on your meals due to these perks, because they're also loaded in calories. Just ½ cup of almonds is over 400 calories, in fact!
Avocados: Another great source of healthy fat and nutrients but no excuse to order seconds of guacamole at the Mexican restaurant just because you skipped the queso dip. Avocados still pack in about 275 calories for each medium sized green fruit.
Granola: An all-too-often choice that healthy-minded eaters look to for a low-cal option only to find that most store-bought granola mixes are not only packed with added sugar, but tons of calories too. The calorie count for an average cup of granola is 500 calories! Use this crunchy snack sparingly or even better, make your own to control the calorie count.
Peanut Butter: No doubt this tasty addition is a great enhancement to smoothies, desserts, sandwiches, veggies, and the list goes on. However, the calorie count can also go on and on if not utilized with consideration. Packing in 100 calories a tablespoon makes peanut butter an easy way to pack on pounds if not used sparingly.
Dried Fruits: Dried fruits can be an excellent enhancement to snack mixes and salads, but before you sit down to chow down an entire bag of dried fruit as a healthy snack, take note of the excess calories in dried fruit. Many are dusted with excess sugar, and given the smaller size as a result of the dehydrating process, it’s easy to go overboard in serving size when eating dried fruits. Use dried fruit as a condiment or add-in enhancement rather than a snack to fill up on alone.
Cheese: Reaching for the low-fat cheese may seem like a good alternative, but check the nutrition label before making your choice. Often low-fat cheese options also pack in added sugar which peaks the calorie count. Again, moderation is the key (broken record here). If you opt for low-fat cheese, also opt for a smaller serving to keep the calorie count in check.
Salad Dressings: It’s not only the creamy dressings that are culprits of calorie catastrophes. Oil- based dressings can also contain a high amount of calories given that just a tablespoon of olive oil has approximately 120 calories. To cut calories, look to more acidic additions to dress your greens like fresh-squeezed lemon, lime, or orange juice with only a splash of oil, if needed. Or, check out these 6 healthy homemade salad dressing recipes here.
Juice: Before you try to drink your fruit servings for the day, note that you may be drinking your calories for the day too. Fruit juices are loaded with sugar which contains an excess of calories that can easily take you over your caloric goals. An average cup of juice (and that means only 8 ounces) is usually at least 125 calories. Look to water to quench your thirst and enjoy real food when it comes to enjoying your calories.
Whole Wheat Crackers: Before you dunk your crackers in hummus and call it a healthy snack, beware of the calories that can add up when snacking on crackers, even if they are whole wheat. An average cup of whole wheat crackers boasts 416 calories a cup.
Bacon: It’s a great source of protein and a meat that adds tons of flavor to any dish, but beware of the calorie count before you crumble on five strips of bacon to your cobb salad. Just one slice of bacon clocks in at 174 calories. Have four slices and that’s almost 700 calories, and you’re likely to still feel hungry.