By David VarvaroThe Fall and Winter holidays are steady approaching and along with these come high calorie feasts that can affect your family’s overall health. Even if you manage to stave off that extra piece of pie, some healthy options could still end up working against you instead of for you if they are high in fat or calories. Being aware of the calorie and fat levels in healthy foods can help to ensure that you are making balanced food choices that help everyone in your household stay in tip-top health.
According to the Center for Disease Control, childhood obesity has more than tripled in the past 30 years. Their website explains how being overweight and obese are the result of “caloric imbalance”—too few calories expended for the amount of calories consumed—and are affected by various genetic, behavioral, and environmental factors. One common misconception that people have is that eating healthy automatically means losing weight. Unfortunately, these two do not exactly go hand in hand. Even if you are eating foods that are healthy, if you consume more calories than your body needs you will not lose weight–you could actually gain it.
So, before you hit the snack pack, here are 10 foods that are commonly overeaten because they are considered to be healthy, but due to their high fat or calorie count can actually put a damper on your weight loss or maintenence goals:
- Nuts: Although almonds, cashews, and other nuts are very healthy for you, be mindful of the fact that they are packed with calories. We have found that many people underestimate just how many calories are in nuts and end up “snacking” on a few hundred calories worth throughout the day. Keep in mind that 11-12 almonds or cashews are around 100 calories.
- Almond or Peanut Butter: Although both are healthy for you, it is very easy to eat a heaping spoonful which can add up to as much as 200 calories to your daily count.
- Avocado: We always hear “but avocado is good for you, right?” Yes, this is true but it it also packed with fat based calories. Just one avocado can have as much as 360 calories!!! So if you are adding even ½ an avocado to a sandwich, you are most likely having more calories than you need especially if you already have cheese or another high calorie food in the sandwich already.
- Fruit: Most people don’t realize that fruits can range anywhere from 60 to 100 calories and bananas can be as high as 130 calories. We usually recommend only eating ½ a piece of fruit and saving the other ½ for your next snack.
- Dried Fruit: Many people think of dried fruit as a good alternative to candy but the truth is all the nutrients have been dried out and all that is left is the sugar and calories.
- Fruit Smoothies: These can have as much as 600-700 calories and tons of sugar.
- Salads: It’s very common for people to add a salad to their dinner because they mistakenly believe it is making their dinner healthier. Unfortunately, what you are really doing is just adding calories to your dinner unless the salad is your main entrée. All of the salad toppings can easily add up, so make sure to always request a low calorie dressing and avoid high calorie salads (like Caesar salads) which can sometimes have as much as 800-1000 calories!
- Protein Bars: Attention ladies! The problem with most protein bars is that they are made for men and aren’t suitable as snacks for most women. Most bars have too many calories to be just a snack or too few calories to be a satisfying meal.
- Sports drinks: Unless you are an athlete and are going to be exercising for more than an hour and an half, you simply don’t need any type of sports drink. These are empty calories that can be avoided.
- Vegetarian meals: Many people think that vegetarian automatically means healthy but many of the boxed vegetarian “meat replacement” food you will find are highly processed and filled with unhealthy oils and fats as well as tons of sodium.
If your goal is to maintain or loose weight and you are not sure if what your eating is helping you to reach this goal, try keeping a journal for 7 days. This will give us a snapshot of your eating habits and help to assess whether there are some “easy fixes” that can be made.
David Varvaro is a Certified Personal Trainer and Weight Loss Specialist. He is the owner of Easy Fitness, studios offering private training in Santa Monica and Marina Del Rey. His team offers nutrition and fitness coaching in a fun environment which leads to easy results.