Fall is here! That means it’s time to get healthy and lose those extra pounds. But with the holidays looming, laden with festive — and fattening — delights, how can we keep a handle on our health? Adopting healthy habits is an important part of a healthy weight-loss plan, but our food choices can either support or hinder our weight loss success.
Let’s face it, avoiding junk food is an obvious choice. When we consume the entire bag of nacho cheese chips, we expect to feel the negative effects, but what about healthy food choices? The truth is, some healthy foods can actually ruin your weight-loss goals.
Our good intentions to add fruits to our diet can interfere with weight loss. That’s because not all fruit is created equal in terms of sugar content. “Tropical fruits have a higher glycemic index, thus spiking your blood sugar at a quicker rate than eating berries, for instance,” says Emily Woll, M.S., a nutrition expert. Woll explains that combining fiber and fruits can stabilize blood sugar. “Mango and oatmeal is a great combination,” Woll suggests, adding that cherries, grapefruit, pears, apples, oranges, and plums are low glycemic, and they are great options to sweetness without sugar overload.
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It’s the perfect combination, right? It has fruit, nuts, oats—what could be bad about that? Nothing, except trail mix is often laced with honey, sugar, or chocolate, which is a sweet addition, but your diet will likely hit a sour note. To keep your blood sugar level, Tiffany DeWitt, a registered dietician with Abbott Nutrition, makes sure she has cut-up veggies, hummus, or cheese available for hungry eaters. “I’ll rinse and drain a can of beans and put them in a bowl for all of us to snack on,” DeWitt says. Beans are an excellent source of protein and fiber.
Quinoa or Oatmeal
Let me explain. Quinoa and oatmeal are great sources of fiber, and they are a healthy option for breakfast. But, that’s not the problem—it’s the toppings. When you add nuts, fruit, honey, cream, coconut, or other fixings, the calories add up. Before you know it, your low-calorie bowl of oatmeal is packing 700 calories! Emily Woll suggests preparing a bowl of mango and quinoa or experimenting with farro, barley, or wheat berries as a healthy meal. But, watch the toppings.
A fruit smoothie is a great option for a quick breakfast or a satisfying afternoon pick-me-up. But, guilt-free? Not always. “When they’re made with ingredients like chocolate, peanut butter, frozen yogurt, or flavored syrups and served in huge cups, then they quickly become a sneaky source of added calories,” say health writers Min-Ja Lee and Christine Mattheis.
Whole Wheat Wraps
When bread goes by the wayside, a whole wheat wrap is a smarter choice, right? Yes and no. Experts agree that whole wheat is a great source of fiber. But consider the surface area of your wrap. A typical wrap is the size of a frisbee—twice the surface area of two slices of bread. When you add condiments, cheese, and meats, you are creating one mongo-sized sandwich, much larger than a standard-sized sandwich made with bread. In this case, too much of a good thing can ruin your diet.
If you have made the decision to take control of your health, good for you! Losing a mere ten pounds can lower the risk of disease and joint pain. By knowing what you are eating and weighing the true benefits of foods, you will be on your way to smart eating and good health.
A version of this article was originally published by Silversage Magazine.