By Justine Holberg
A veggie wrap for lunch. A night out for sushi.
And you’re working out . . . but you’re still not losing weight.
Some “diet” foods may be your worst enemy. That’s because they’re tricking you into eating too many calories. So what are some of the worst offenders?
- Sushi: Fish wrapped in rice and seaweed. Not a diet food? Yep, that’s right. It’s not always as “light” as it seems. Some sushi has calorie levels so high it might just shock you.Diet Shocker: One eight-piece serving of Philadelphia sushi roll is the caloric equivalent of 1 medium bagel with plain cream cheese—close to 500 calories. It’s the cream cheese that gets you. And what about spicy tuna and other mayo-based rolls? They can contain as many as 450 calories and 11 grams of artery-clogging fat per serving. Eat too many of the “wrong” rolls and you’re in Big Mac® calorie territory.
- Wraps: You order the whole wheat veggie wrap thinking it’ll put you on the skinny track. But is it actually the fat track? For some reason, wraps have been viewed as a healthy upgrade from a sandwich, but this isn’t always the case.Diet Shocker: The tortilla holding your wrap together can easily contain the same number of calories as four slices of bread, not to mention more carbs and twice as much fat. Many kinds of wraps you get at a deli have at least 300 calories. And that’s just the tortilla, not the contents. You also have to factor in the fillings—and keep in mind that a wrap has more surface space to spread these calorie-boosting culprits:
All told, one healthy-seeming wrap can easily trick you into eating hundreds more calories than you planned.
- Granola: When you’re having granola, you might think, “It’s healthy. The fiber and all those little pieces of dried fruit are so good for me.” Truth is, although it’s got good stuff in it, it also packs in the calories.Diet Shocker: A half-cup serving is what’s often listed on the nutrition label of prepared granola. But who eats just half a cup? For most brands, there are more than 400 calories in a one-cup serving of granola. And when’s the last time you actually measured? If you keep filling your cereal bowl with this stuff, it’s no wonder you’re not losing!
- Bran Muffins: The kinds sold at many bakeries today aren’t the little 3-inch muffins Grandma used to bake. They’re much, much bigger. And just because they’re made with “healthy” bran doesn’t mean they’re a diet food, either.Diet Shocker: The average bakery muffin can contain as many as 630 calories. You might be slightly better off with a bran muffin than, say, a banana or blueberry one because of bran’s extra fiber, but most of them are still packed with sugar and butter. Eat one bran muffin from Dunkin’ Donuts® and you’ll be consuming 480 calories, 13 grams of fat, and 46 grams of sugar. OMG.
- Dried Fruit: The more fruit you eat the better, right? Not when it comes to the dried stuff.Diet Shocker: You could boost your calorie count as much as four times (!) by choosing to eat the dried version of a fruit rather than its fresh counterpart. Check out these calorie comparisons based on a 100-gram (about 1 cup) serving:
Fruit (about 1 cup) Fresh Dried Grapes 70 calories (Raisins) 300 calories Apricots 50 calories 240 calories Bananas 90 calories (Banana chips) 350 calories Plums 45 calories (Prunes) 230 calories
- Pumpkin-Flavored Baked Goods: Pumpkin is nutritious, but these baked goods can be a dieting disaster. Like bran, pumpkin has lots of stuff that’s good for you. So if you see pumpkin on a baked-goods label, it’s easy to think you’re eating something that’s lower in calories. Not the case, though: Pumpkin doesn’t mean diet food.Diet Shocker: Dunkin’ Donuts strikes again. Their pumpkin muffin has 630 calories and 28 grams of fat. OMG again! Want to switch bakeries? It won’t help much. A pumpkin muffin from Panera Bread® has 530 calories and 20 grams of fat, and the pumpkin scone at Starbucks® has 470 calories and lots of fat too—22 grams’ worth. You might as well be eating pie with whipped cream!
- Olive Oil: It’s a good fat and helps you burn fat. However, you don’t need a lot of it to get the benefits. Two tablespoons a day can do the trick. And overdoing it can backfire.Diet Shocker: Olive oil served with bread at a restaurant is heart-healthy, but high in calories. You can easily sop up a quarter of a cup. That’s 478 calories, not including the bread. Or the rest of the meal you’ve ordered.
- “Healthy” Salads: That’s what some restaurants want you to believe in their “lite” section of the menu. It must be diet-friendly, right? Not always.Diet Shocker: Listed under “Healthy Options” on the T.G.I. Friday’s® menu, their pecan-crusted chicken salad, which contains mandarin oranges, dried cranberries, and celery, has 1,360 calories. Meanwhile, their cheeseburger and fries combo weighs in at 1,290 calories. Say it ain’t so.
So what’s a dieter to do in a world filled with “diet” traps?
Ask about nutrition and read food labels. After a while, you’ll be a pro at it and enjoy the weight loss that comes with it. You won’t even have to give up the foods you like. That’s because you’ll know how to work them into your food plan the right way.