I eat only healthy foods.
I eat mostly REAL unprocessed foods.
I cook most of my meals.
“But why can’t I lose weight?!”
I hear your frustrations. When you eat healthy and you’re doing everything right, but the weight isn’t bugging, or you even end up gaining more weight, it can be extremely frustrating, and you don’t know what you’re doing wrong!
Let’s talk about the sneaky diet saboteurs and how these “healthy” foods that can cause you to gain weight.
1) Trail Mix or Granola
Trail Mix or Granola is a mixture of nuts, seeds, dried fruits and oats, which are nutritious and convenient snacks. But, they are calorie-dense snacks.
What make matters worse is when they are dressed with ingredients like honey, maple syrup or chocolate, which increases the calories even more.
A serving of trail mix or granola is only ¼ cup, which has about 140 – 170 calories.
The issue arises when we don’t portion out our snacks and just consume as much as we want because hey, it’s healthy! Yes, it is packed with nutrients, yes, you should add them into your diet, BUT be sure to measure them out!
2) Fruit Juice
Juicing is a big trend and a big business. It’s now readily available at almost every supermarket, coffee shops and every body seemed to be going on the “juice cleanse”. But is it really all that good for you if you were to consume regularly?
Let’s take a look at the breakdown for a 12oz (350ml) portion of Cola vs Apple Juice and Orange Juice.
Cola contains 140Cals and 40g of Sugar, which is equivalent to 10 tsps. of sugar.
Apple juice contains 165Cals and 39g of sugar, which measures to 8 tsps. of sugar.
Orange juice contains 33g of sugar, which measures to 8 tsps. of sugar.
So the harsh truth is that even with NO ADDED SUGAR, fruit juice has almost the same amount of sugar as cola. Consuming sugary beverages whether it’s from cola or 100% fruit juice regularly is not a good thing. Fruit juice has almost zero fibre but loaded with sugar. It’s a sneaky liquid calorie drink that won’t even make you full.
A much healthier option would be to consume the whole fruit, which is packed with fibre, low in sugar and keeps you satisfied.
A cup of apple juice has 0.2g fibre, while a whole apple contains 3.3g. One cup of orange juice has 0.5g fibre while a cup of fresh raw orange has 4.3g.
Or opt for green juice, which has way lower sugar content and is more alkalizing in nature than fruits, which helps to maintain the pH balance in your stomach.
TIP: Go for whole fruit or Green Juice
3) Salad Dressings
Many people think that by ordering a salad they are eating healthy. YES! They’re absolutely right! A heaping serving of greens is low in calories and provides your body with a nice dose of fibre, vitamins and minerals. Plus it’s extremely satisfying and it’s hard to overeat.
BUT what you choose to dress your salad with can be a killer! It can turn a healthy meal into a calorie bomb, because most salad dressing are loaded with fat, salt and sugar.
Let’s take a look at some of the most common salad dressing and the nutrients in it:
Per 1 tbsp. serving
Caeser – 78Cals, 8.5g Fat
Ranch – 73Cals, 7.7g Fat
French – 73Cals, 7.2g Fat
Thousand Island – 59Cals, 5.6g Fat
Chances are you won’t be having just 1 tbsp. of dressing, more like 3 – 4 tbsps., which can add up to almost 300Cals!
TIP: Avoid cream-based dressings. If you must have your dressing, then always ask to serve it on the side so that you can control the portion. A better alternative is to opt for lighter vinaigrette dressing, which has half the amount of calories.
Avocados are nutritious and an excellent source of heart healthy fats. Avocado seemed to be THE superfood used in everything, from making “healthier” ice cream to smoothies, cheesecakes, dips and even margarita. Basically anything you can think of.
Avocado is one of the most fattening foods and yes, if you over-indulging on avocados, could lead to some serious weight gain. One standard avocado has between 250 – 280 calories and 22g of fat.
TIP: I’m not saying you shouldn’t consume avocado, but if you are watching your weight, opt for a small amount of avocado and pack your meals with more “free” foods such as green leafy vegetables.
5) Coconut Milk
Coconut milk has been used in Asian cooking for centuries and it used to get a bad rap due to its high saturated fat levels. Now, it’s a highly regarded superfood and we’re all switching to coconut milk. Hey it’s dairy free too!
The fatty acids in coconut milk can improve heart health, gives you healthy skin and hair and even aid with weight loss, IF, only IF it’s consumed in moderation.
Full-fat coconut milk is very high in calories, 1 cup packs a whopping 552Cals and 51g saturated fat, which is way over the amount, recommended a day.
TIP: Avoid coconut latte or coconut smoothie. That won’t do your waistline any good. Instead, have a smaller serving. Consume ¼ to ½ cup and use it as an “add on” in your recipes rather than having it as the main ingredient.
6) Natural Sweeteners
Natural Sweetener such as honey and maple syrup are excellent substitute to refined sugars. They are more nutritious and less processed, but if consumed in large quantity, they can have negative effects to your body the same way as white refined sugar.
This includes a spike in your blood sugar levels, weight gain and even diabetes.
Sugar is STILL sugar. So those “healthy desserts” that call for 1 cup of maple syrup, honey or coconut sugar aren’t exactly healthy or “guilt-free”. You SHOULD still indulge in them IN MODERATION.
TIP: Only add small amount of natural sweeteners to your food or drinks.
7) Energy Bars
Energy bars were once marketed to provide quick energy during exercises, but nowadays they seemed to be a convenient snack or even consumed as a meal replacement.
Energy bars are great if you’re on long endurance training such as running a full marathon, BUT it’s not great if you’re just sitting at your desk, snacking away.
Most energy bars are essentially granola mixtures of nuts, seeds, and dried fruits. So what’s holding them together? Sugars, oil, artificial flavors and preservatives!
So if you’re someone who buys lots of energy bars and rely on them daily, it’s not doing your diet any good. REAL FOOD is still best option. Snack on whole fruits or trail mix is even a better option without the fake stuff. Only save them when you’re on a long hike, run or while travelling.
TIP: When it comes to buying energy bars, flip over and look for a bar that has
- 3 – 5g fibre
- if you’re looking to pack on protein, then at least between 10 – 20g.
- and less than 200cals per bar if it’s just a snack.
- Choose a bar with as few ingredients as possible, made from REAL food. Not ingredients with some funky names.
- Avoid bars, which list sugar as the first 3 ingredients.
8) Gluten-Free Foods
Nowadays, big brands are cashing in on the “health market” by adding “gluten-free” to their products. Let’s face it, even if you don’t have a wheat allergy, you may be drawn to gluten-free versions, simply because they sound healthier. Unfortunately, this is not the case!
Many gluten-free products actually have more calories, more sugar, more fat and more chemicals, in comparison to the same food that contains gluten. That’s because they have to replace regular flour and make up for the loss of taste and texture by adding other food additives.
If you walk down the aisles, you’ll find lots of gluten-free cookies, cupcakes, bread and pretty much any other junks. Now if you’re someone who has switched from regular cookies or cupcakes to the “gluten-free” versions and wonder why am I still struggling to lose weight and feel absolutely crappy?
Well, junk foods are still junk foods, whether or not they are gluten-free!
TIP: If you are not gluten intolerance, just consume the regular versions and remember, enjoy in MODERATION.
9) Vegetable Chips
Another “health food” that drives me nuts are vegetable chips!! Gosh, I can’t stand it when products are being sold as 100% natural vegetables chips. Hey, they must be good for you.
Wrong. A serving of veggie chips isn't a great substitute for fresh, frozen, or even canned veggies. They will NOT contribute to your 5-a-day. One serving of veggies contains 25 calories and many vitamins and minerals.
Once the veggies are processed into chips by either deep-frying or baked at very high temperature, many of the vitamins and plant chemicals are destroyed.
This leaves you with a food that's much higher in calories and fat with fewer nutrients. And most store-bought vegetable chips high in fat, calories and sodium, very similar to regular potato chips. An ounce of veggie or potato chips has between 120 – 160 calories and about 10 to 11g of fat.
TIP: Eat your vegetables whole, whether it’s raw, slightly cooked or fermented. If you are in the mood of a salty snack, enjoy chips or any sort in moderate 1oz servings.
10) Frozen Yoghurt
I’ll have frozen yoghurt instead of ice cream, because it hey it’s yoghurt, it contains probiotics which is great for my gut. Although frozen yogurt does contain probiotics, the majority of them do not survive long enough for you to reap the rewards.
That’s because the freezing process used to make frozen yoghurt may kill some of the healthy gut bacteria found in regular yogurt. And what you might not realise is that frozen yoghurt has more sugar than a ice cream.
A half-cup serving contains roughly 17g of sugar, whereas ice cream only has about 14g of sugar.
And when you trick yourself into thinking that fro-yo is low fat and it’s “healthy”, you feel like you’re allowed to eat more. Hence an average serving can pack up to 300 to 400 calories-worth.
TIP: Just like any desserts, enjoy in small quantity. If you want an absolutely healthy frozen dessert, then make your own by blending frozen bananas and a mixture of other frozen fruits to make nice-cream.
11) Nut Butter
We all know by now that nuts are extremely calorie-dense. So, will nut butter make you fat? If you end up eating the whole jar, than yes. If you portion it out, consume in moderation, then no, it will not make you fat.
When consume in moderation, it can definitely add health benefits to your diet. One tablespoon contains around 90 calories and has 4 grams of protein. But the fact is, it’s easy to overeat.
Tip: So the next you spread it onto your toasts or stir into oatmeal, just be mindful about the calorie content. When buying nut butter, if possible go for 100% nut butter or those that only has very little added salt. Not those loaded with sugar and other food additives.
I’m not saying you shouldn’t be eating all these foods, in fact, most of them should be part of your diet.
But be aware that they are NOT “free” calories. Those calories can still add up, causing you to experience a weight loss plateau or even weight gain.
So what’s the key to not gaining weight on healthy foods? The answer is fairly simple – you should know what you’re eating and PORTION CONTROL is the key. Apply these tips and train yourself to be a MINDFUL eater.