With so many messages out there about what makes a food “healthy” it is easy to get confused. Below is a list of foods that despite the best of intentions can trip you up and prevent you from seeing results. Here’s why and suggestions on what to reach for instead:
In the Dairy Aisle
Mistake:Buying 2% milk
Truth: 2% sounds lean and it is reduced fat from whole milk, but that percent represents the weight of the milk that is fat, not the percent of calories from fat. If 2% wasn’t mixed together you would see that over one third of each glass is pure fat, mostly saturated, which is the solid kind that clogs arteries and ups the risk of heart disease.
Bottom line: Everyone 2 years of age and older should be drinking 1% or skim milk. These have the same amount of protein, calcium and Vitamin D as 2% and whole. If you can’t stand to do without the creaminess of 2% , then look for Skim Plus. Skim Plus has no fat but it’s thicker and whiter (from the addition of 3 extra grams of protein per cup!). Another great option is soy milk, which also has extra protein.
In the Peanut Butter Aisle
Mistake: Buying reduced fat PB
Truth: Reduced fat PB has close to the same amount of calories per serving and usually more carbohydrates than regular PB. That’s because carbs are added to displace the fat content (more carbs means less fat per spoonful). Not to mention, the fat in regular PB is “good” heart healthy monounsaturated fat and you don’t want less of this kind of fat per serving.
Bottom line: Stick to regular PB or other natural nut butters (almond etc.).
In the Candy Aisle
Mistake: Buying sugar free candy
Truth: 5 sugar free Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups have 180 cals, 13g fat, and 27 g carbs. 5 Regular Reese’s Peanut Butter cups contain 210 calories, 12g fat, and 22 g carbs. You save a mere 30 calories, but take in more fat and when all is said and done, about as many carbs as 2 slices of bread! And the sugar alcohols they use in place of sugar causes bloating and diarrhea.
Bottom line: Sugar free doesn’t mean fat and calorie free and it definitely doesn’t give you a green light to eat more. Stick to regular candy if you are going to splurge on a treat, or better yet, have dark chocolate.
In the Beverage Aisle
Mistake: Buying vitamin and energy infused drinks
Truth: Vitamin type waters and energy drinks can look healthy, but many are basically just sugary water mixed with a multivitamin and the vitamins don’t cancel out the calories. If you drank just one bottle a day and didn’t burn off those calories, you would gain 12 lbs of body fat in a year-this is 48 sticks of butter worth of body fat! Also, sugary drinks aren’t filling, so you won’t compensate by eating less when you add them to your diet.
Bottom line: Stick to plain H2O or flavored seltzer, which is calorie free and has no artificial stuff and get your energy and vitamins from filling whole foods instead including vegetables, fruits, whole grains and tea.
In the Meat Aisle
Mistake: Buying ground turkey
Truth: It is not turkey vs. beef that makes ground turkey leaner. It’s the percent lean-93% lean ground beef can be just as low in calories and fat as ground turkey. The key is to find the highest percent lean you can, regardless of the source.
Bottom line: Look for 99% lean ground turkey or find the leanest beef or chicken cut that you can buy and ask the person at the meat counter to grind it for you. Or swap ground meat for chopped mushrooms. Trading 3 ounces of 90% lean ground turkey for a half cup of chopped Portabella mushroom once a week, without making any other changes to your diet, would save you 7,280 calories a year.
In the Ice Cream Aisle
Mistake: Buying frozen yogurt or reduced fat, sugar free, ice cream.
Truth: Ice cream substitutes probably won’t satisfy you and you’ll probably end up eating twice as much or more. A half cup of Ben & Jerry’s Cherry Garcia is 250 calories but a cup of Ben & Jerry’s Cherry Garcia frozen yogurt has 340 calories.
Bottom Line: Stick with regular ice cream and dish it out instead of eating it from the carton. You will probably feel satisfied with a half cup serving and you can load up your dish with berries or other in-season fruit. Baked apple or pear slices or tangerines are tasty, low cal, nutritious toppings.
These are just a few of the mistakes I see patients making that prevent or stall weight loss. Also, keep in mind many of these are common mistakes and suggestions for non-bariatric patients. I am sure none of my bariatric patients are having candy or ice cream.