No doubt about it: With one in three Americans now labeled overweight, "thin" food sells. Restaurants are adding low-cal choices to their menus, processed foods are being reformulated to be "healthy," and the diet food home-delivery business is booming. So why isn't weight loss getting any easier? Blame these five sneaky diet wreckers:
1. Good food gone bad. Fruit, veggies, and whole grains are the backbone of nearly every weight loss plan. But that doesn't mean you can eat your fruit blended into sugary shakes called "smoothies" or candied into "fruit chews." And those veggie chips? Most are still salty, greasy, and calorie-laden. Oily pasta dishes flecked with a few carrots and broccoli bits shouldn't be allowed to call themselves "salads" -- even if they use whole-wheat noodles. Skip all of the above, and enjoy your fruit and veggies whole and your noodles without oil (a little pasta water or broth will keep them from clumping together). Then, lose belly fat without dieting!
2. Bet you can't eat just one. Bite-sized 100-calorie treats can be a great way to get a little taste of your favorite snack. But they can also make your mind play tricks on you. As in, "Since they're diet food, it's okay to have two of those mini packs." (If you ate the same amount from a larger package, you'd call it a binge.) Same goes for low-cal fudgesicles, skinny ice cream sandwiches, and mini cupcakes. Tuck a six-pack in the fridge or freezer only if you trust yourself not to go back for seconds. Try these delicious recipes for high fiber and low fat.
3. New menu, same diet traps. Weird but true: Entree options labeled "dieter's delight," "reduced calorie," or "healthy" lead some weight-conscious folks (you?) to indulge in a giant bowl of fettuccine Alfredo. Somehow, just being near healthy choices tricks your brain into thinking you've made one. Don't be fooled: See "healthy" and order that one, not its neighbor on the menu!
4. High fiber but not low cal. Think counting fiber grams means you can get away with more calories? You're sort of on the right track. Where you can go off the rails, though, is not paying attention to sugar. For instance, some bran muffins and cold cereals can still be loaded with sugar calories, which will not only get you a ride on the blood sugar roller coaster but also whet your appetite for more sweet sugar calories later.
5. "Lite" serving sizes. That chicken lasagna is only 300 calories? Sure, if you eat only 1 cup. Making the natural assumption that what looks like a single serving on the package of a frozen dish actually is one serving can cause you to double up on calories without knowing it. To lose weight, either look for frozen entrees that clearly state "single serving" on the package, or read all the fine print on the nutrition label, starting with the serving size.
What diet wrecker would you add to this list?
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