People are choosing healthy food for weight loss. But the calories in healthy fare can cause weight gain. Which healthy foods should dieters monitor?
There is a battle being waged against “junk” and processed foods in the war against obesity. But this is not the only battlefront. Healthy foods contain calories and unless dieters closely watch calorie counts, healthy foods can cause the same amount of weight gain as unhealthy foods.
Vegetables Have Calories
Although fewer than meat, vegetables still contain calories. One cup of vegetarian soup is 70 calories – but a cup of veggie beef soup is 80 and beef noodle soup is 85 – about the same. It is healthy to choose all vegetable soup, but not wise to return to the “all you can eat” soup bar several times.
Salads – Magnets for Calories
The lowest calorie vegetables are often eaten raw in a salad, such as radishes and cucumbers, that add only two to three calories in a single serving. Unfortunately, health enthusiasts may shower a salad with nuts and seeds, such as sunflower seeds at 160 calories an ounce and slivered almonds at 165 calories per ounce.
Another pitfall is olive oil, a source of good cholesterol. Two tablespoons is the common measure for a serving of dressing. Olive oil has 250 calories per serving while regular, commercial Italian dressing has 80 calories. If one piles the veggies up at a salad bar and then dribbles four tablespoons of olive oil on the salad, the meal is over 500 calories.
Calorie Counting for Whole Grains
Switching to whole grain bread increases nutrients and fiber while eliminating the “sugar load” of white bread. This does not make whole grain bread a “free” food. One slice of white bread is 65 calories. The same amount of whole wheat bread is 70.
An article by Marty Munson, “Healthy Foods That Make You Fat,” Marie Claire, Hearst Communication, Inc., © 2010, asserts that “bread lovers are bread lovers” – they eat too much bread, white or whole grain. He recommends they avoid bread and shake grains such as brown rice over a salad – in moderation.
Whole grain cereal is another source of diet mistakes. Changing over to whole grain cereal will not reduce weight. Two multi-color, sugary cereals list 100 calories for a three quarter cup serving, while a new multi-grain cereal and a traditional whole wheat cereal list slightly above and slightly below 100 calories for the same serving.
Watching Dairy Calories
Advertising that eating dairy helps weight loss is unfounded. According to Dr. Marc Lawrence of ABC News, “USDA and Dairy Industry to stop promoting dairy for weight loss,” (May 13, 2007) these claims were backed by studies funded by the dairy industry and are not substantiated by independent research.
Only one cubic inch of cheddar cheese is 70 calories. While people gravitate to low fat milk, the caloric difference between a cup of whole milk and a cup of 2% milk is only 25 calories.
Fruits, Berries and Yogurt – a High Caloric Combination
Yogurt is considered to be healthy for digestion. Fruits and berries are among the foremost foods believed to carry anti-cancer agents. But 8 ounces of low-fat fruit or berry yogurt is 230 calories.
Plain yogurt, 140 calories per 8 ounces, blended with fresh fruit or berries, is a healthier choice. There are alternate ways of flavoring yogurt, such as mixing it with spearmint and cucumbers or other herbs.
Hidden Calories of Berry Juice
Juices with exotic combinations of fruit and berries, such as “blueberry pomegranate,” have become a cause of weight gain. A small cup (eight ounces) of blueberry pomegranate juice contains 120 calories. According to “Slim Down Secrets, 7 Healthy Foods that Make You Fat,” by Jennifer Harrington, ABC15.com (April 27, 2010), juice is the number one offender. A few glasses of berry juice a day can use up to one fourth of caloric needs and some dieters found that they were drinking more than 1,000 calories a day in berry juice.
Healthy but High Calorie Snacks and Treats
Almonds and walnuts contain heart healthy oils. Snacks, however, are often eaten in large volume – like popcorn – so healthy nuts can be deceptive. These nuts pack the same amount of calories as oiled peanuts. One half cup of almonds or walnuts is close to 400 calories, compared to oiled popcorn at 55 calories a cup. Dark chocolate contains antioxidants, but a quarter-inch thick bar of 63% cacao contains 200 calories per serving – which is a 1″ x 2″ piece.
Eat Healthy Foods but Watch Calories
The National Institutes on Health assert that that calories taken in must equal calories expended to maintain a healthy weight. It is evident that fast and processed foods have contributed to the epidemic of obesity. Now that people are learning to eat healthy foods, the next step is moderation and old-fashioned calorie counting.