Your salad could be killing you
By Brittney Jacox
February 20, 2009 | Millions of Americans
spend millions of seconds wrestling between the super-sized
combo and the "healthy" fast food alternative. What
many do not know is that they are fighting a losing
battle. That salad you so proudly eat may actually be
sabotaging your diet.
Fact: McDonald's Crispy
Chicken Salad with dressing has a hefty 51 grams of
fat and 660 calories while a Big Mac has 34 grams of
fat and 590 calories. You should have stayed with the
Many of us, although not interested
in a hardcore diet, are earnestly pursuing balanced
and healthy nutritional options. Advertisers have cleverly
taken advantage of this lucrative fact and utilized
an arsenal of diet-related verbiage to entice and cloak
unhealthy foods as healthy. "Low-fat," "reduced calorie"
and other buzzwords have invaded restaurant menus and
grocery store shelves. It is no longer a simple task
of using your common sense when selecting healthy foods.
Let us examine some of the foods
we consume on an average day. Here are a few traditionally
healthy foods you may want to avoid eating on a daily
basis. Many of these foods may very well be responsible
for secretly sabotaging your diet for years.
Granola: According to
Magazine, granola is one of the worst ways to start
your day off. A single bowl can have as many calories
as two bowls of cocoa pebbles with even less nutritional
content. If you do decide to go with cold cereal for
your breakfast, be sure to look for low sugar, high
fiber cereal that is made from whole grains. Be wary
of freeze-dried fruits in cereals promising natural
nutrition, they are usually nothing more than overly
sweetened dried fruits with little original nutritional
Muffins: They are homemade
and healthy, right? Wrong! Today, most muffins have
become nothing more than glorified donuts or pastries.
With high sugar and refined flour contents, your morning
muffin may be the culprit for a failing weight loss
plan. Many Americans have grown accustomed to the over-sized
muffin as a healthy coffee shop breakfast item, but
according to SusanMoores,
R.D., the average muffin has 500 calories and 20-plus
grams of fat, with little added benefit. Instead, find
muffins made out of bran or whole grain, with real fruits
and low sugar content.
Juice: One of the biggest
misconceptions is that juice is the "healthy" choice.
Although many juices do promise vitamin C and other
nutrients, what they fail to embolden on the packaging
is the soda-like sugar levels.
Sew Sun Wong, nutrition specialist
and USU assistant professor, says, "Not all consumers
check out the percentage of juice contained in the juice
container. For example, Tampico (juice or punch), the
number one selling brand of refrigerated juice drinks
in stores across America, may have added vitamins and
minerals but only contains 5-15 percent juice. Meaning,
the rest is sugar water."
Many juice choices are as bad if
not worse than soda pop. So the next time you grab for
that juice box under the guise of being healthy, think
of how many laps you will have to run to burn those
calories off. Look for juices with high fruit juice
content not just sugar water and flavorings. Also, find
products with low or reduced sugar and if you have a
juicer handy, try making some homemade juices without
the manufacturer added sugars.
Salads: Salads are one
of the best-disguised destroyers of diets. Many salads
contain more fat and calories than fast food classics
like burgers and fries. That is not to say that all
salads are bad, in fact most salads are an excellent
choice for a balanced diet, it all depends on what is
added to the salad. Wong explains, "Salads come in different
types: green salads, fruit salads, egg salads, taco
salads, and etc. It is the 'additions' that most people
do not pay attention to the extra calories, fat, or
sugar they get. Croutons can add some extra 'crunchy
calories.' Sometimes, fat free does not mean sugar free,
or vice versa."
When selecting a salad, avoid heavy
dressings like Cesar and Ranch they can account for
the bulk of fat and calories on a salad, instead try
light vinaigrette. The authors of "Eat
This...Not That" have compiled an excellent collection
of fast food and restaurant salads to avoid, and many
of your favorite salads may just be included on the
Diet Sodas: Americans
love soda pop. So much, they choose to drink soda as
their primary drink each day. Just because it promises
low calories does not mean it will not hurt your diet.
Diet sodas have actually been linked to weight gain.
It appears that as your body becomes more accustomed
to in-taking sweet substances, it develops a preference
for sweetness. Which means although you may not be consuming
sugar in your soda, you will find yourself eating more
sugary substances elsewhere (candy, cereals, desserts).
Your best option is to give your
body what it was designed to receive, water. Treat yourself
to a diet soda now and again, but remember that moderation
is always the key.
Frozen Dinners: When
you visit the frozen food section of your local supermarket
you will notice that over half of the frozen dinners
offered are marketed as a healthy meal option. As with
almost all the items reviewed, there are good and bad
versions of the food. Be sure to carefully read the
packaging, not the big and colorful advertising words
on the front, but the small and cramped nutritional
facts on the back.
Many frozen dinners are nothing more
than overly processed and refined foods with little
to no nutritional value and high in sugar and carbohydrates.
One example is the Healthy Choice Complete Selections
Sweet & Sour Chicken meal with 430 calories, that is
equivalent to two large scoops of Breyers Reese's Peanut
Butter cup ice cream. The other thing to consider is,
how many frozen dinners will you actually eat before
you are filled. Many people will eat two or three "healthy"
frozen dinners in one sitting, hardly anyone's idea
of a healthy meal.
In striving to achieve a balanced
nutrition and diet, nutrition graduate Amy Summers recommends
focusing on four main points:
1) Avoid sugars--there are enough sugars in everyday
foods, we donot need to seek out additional sources.
2) Natural foods-- this does not necessarily mean organic
foods, simply look for foods in their simplest form,
i.e. fresh fruits and vegetables, non-processed grains
3) Drink plenty of water--avoid replacing your bodies'
most important substance with sugary artificial drinks.
4) Moderation--too much or too little is usually not
a good idea, avoid becoming too radical with any diet.
So next time you choose to drop the
burger for the salad or swap the Coke for a juice box,
you might be better off pleasing your stomach and sticking
with the "unhealthy" choice, your waistline just might
thank you for it.