When you order funnel cake or an ice cream sundae, you know what you're getting yourself into. But these seemingly healthy warm-weather staples might also make your jeans a little tighter if not consumed in moderation. By Ava Feuer, REDBOOK.
The nonfat label and 130 calories per half-cup sound almost too good to be true-and that's because they are. The posted nutrition information applies to a mere four ounces, which is far less than almost anyone eats, especially at the increasing number of self-serve chains popping up across the country. And while it may sound counterintuitive, you're better off with a low- or full-fat flavor. "The fat is what tells your body it's eaten," says Robyn Youkilis, a nutritional consultant for Seamless. "Your body gets confused by the chemicals, your cravings start to go crazy, and you don't know what's what." To keep portion-size under control, fill your cup halfway with fruit, then put your yogurt on top. If you're itching for something sweeter, carob or dark chocolate chips and shaved coconut are among the best options.
Anyone's who's been to the farmers market recently is excited about the abundance of fresh, local fruit, but this produce is best consumed whole. "Normally you eat one peach or one apple," says registered holistic nutritionist Peggy Kotsopoulos. "In a smoothie, it's so easy to pack five fruits in at once." That's bound to raise your blood sugar, and if you choose the premade kind, the news gets worse. One Odwalla fruit smoothie, for example, has a whopping 44 grams of sugar-far more than the American Heart Association recommends consuming in an entire day.
Related: 21 Ways to Burn Fat Faster
Unwrapping one of these frozen treats makes you feel like a kid again, and since many of them have only 100 or so calories, they feel like a great 4 p.m. grab. However, even when made of pure fruit-though few are, and most store-bought ones have added creaminess-they won't serve you the same way a handful of almonds or a Greek yogurt will. "They may be a low-calorie choice, but they aren't satiating calories," says Allison Stowell, RD. "A Popsicle won't fill you up as an afternoon snack." That means you're likely to reach for yet another bite before dinner.
If you're looking to get your veggies, use a high-power blender and forgo green juices sold at supermarkets. "They're usually masking some of the normal flavor with concentrates, fruits, and added sugar," says Stowell, who also works as a supermarket dietician. Opt for greens-only juices if you make it a daily habit, or if you love the taste of greens plus fruit, consider making the blend an occasional indulgence only, since the fruit ingredients may cause blood sugar spikes your body doesn't need.
Related: 31 Days of Snacks for Grown-Ups
Whether served alone or alongside cakes and pies, this fruity dessert is usually considered a smarter choice than ice cream or gelato. But that may not be the case. "Even though sorbet is low in calories, it's high in sugar," says Kotsopoulos. "It spikes your blood sugar, so you're constantly craving more and more. It's a high and crash."
If it's made with skim milk and sugar-free syrup-think iced skinny vanilla latte-it won't affect your beach body, right? Unfortunately, although it's not caloric, infusing your caffeinated beverage with artificial sweeteners is likely to affect what you eat going forward. "Your brain thinks it's had something sweet, but your body knows it hasn't," says Youkilis. "As soon as I get artificial sugars out of my clients' diets, their cravings naturally start to subside." Instead, try switching a standard iced coffee to an iced Americano. Since it's made with espresso, the drink is a bit more alkaline, which helps to clear up digestive issues, allergies, bloating, and inflammation.
Related: 25 Lazy Ways to Burn Extra Calories Just Like That
Frozen margaritas, frosty mojitos, and piña coladas are perfect sippers for your summer barbecue-until you realize that they often pack more calories than an entire meal. If the same old bottle of vino isn't cutting it for you, try mixing spirits with a fun-flavored seltzer. Stowell's clients love Polar, the brand responsible for such limited-edition flavors as Mint Mojito, Pomegranate Sangria, and Ginger Lemonade. "People also use them to water down their drinks, reducing the sweetness and making them go further," she says.
From kombucha to green varieties, tea is often heralded for its myriad health benefits. And with only natural flavors and water, what could be wrong? The issue here isn't calories, but that most places automatically sweeten their teas unless you expressly ask them not to. Regardless of the flavor, making that request on a medium-size drink typically saves you a whopping 20 grams of sugar.
More from REDBOOK: