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Overlooked Foods that Can Ruin a Healthy Diet

Updated on July 9, 2012

Everyone knows a Big Mac is not as good for you as a salad. Many people don’t realize that they sometime make their salad higher in fat than a Big Mac by adding toppings. While it is easy to know the difference in a healthy meal and an unhealthy meal, it is often hard to ensure you are not adding too many calories and too much fat when trying to eat right.

Condiments and toppings are often overlooked in their nutritional importance. People who make healthy choices in their diet can be misled with the use of foods that are used as condiments to the main meal. They can ruin their diets by not looking closely at nutritional facts. These are several of the often “overlooked” foods

  • Mayonnaise While tuna, egg salad, and other foods that people use mayonnaise for are often healthy, mayonnaise itself is quite unhealthy. Adding just two tablespoons of Hellman’s Regular Mayonnaise to a tuna fish sandwich will give you an additional 20 grams of fat and 180 calories. A seemingly healthy meal can become detrimental to a healthy diet when mayonnaise is used in preparing it.
  • Salad Dressing – Everyone knows that salad is a good way to fill up and get nutrition. Many don’t realize that adding just two tablespoons of Kraft Ranch dressing will give that salad 22 grams of fat and 220 extra calories. Many who use salad dressing use more than two table spoons. Using three table spoons would produce 33 grams of extra fat. That is the same amount of fat grams as a Big Mac has! Opt for fat free or at least lower fat dressings.
  • Coffee Creamer Coffee is what gets a lot of people in the world ready for the day and is the beverage they look forward to in the mornings. Creamer is a necessity for many when drinking coffee. Still, it needs to be used in moderation. Coffee Mate Vanilla Creamer has 35 calories and 5 grams of sugar in one tablespoon. If the average person drinks two cups of coffee and uses two tablespoons of creamer in each cup, that equates to 140 calories and 20 grams of sugar. Many people even add more sugar! This is entirely too many calories for our morning coffee. If you must use creamer, use the fat free. It has a bit less sugar and calories than original.
  • Shredded Cheese – We all love cheese. It can be used on nearly all types of foods. Sprinkling on some shredded cheese can make just about any meal taste a great deal better. It can also make it much more fattening. Kraft Mexican Style Shredded Cheese has 100 calories and 8 grams of fat in ¼ cup. A fourth of a cup may sound like a lot, but it really adds up fast. Next time you use shredded cheese, use a measuring cup. It is more advisable to choose the 2% lower fat options.
  • Jelly/Jam – Eating a bagel or a couple of slices of toast is not an unhealthy choice. It is when we spread on the jam that it becomes a great deal less healthy. Smuckers strawberry Jam has 50 calories and 12 grams of sugar in one tablespoon. In comparison, the toast you are putting it on has only around 75 calories! I suggest using light butter or reduced sugar/calorie jams if available.
  • Tartar Sauce – Fish is one of the most healthy, delicious foods we can eat when attempting to maintain good health. It is a shame that many people’s favorite condiment for fish is loaded with fat and calories. Kraft Tartar Sauce contains 80 calories and 8 grams of fat in two tablespoons. Again, this may not seem like much. But considering the average person needs only 2000 calories in a day, using nearly 5% of them on a condiment is not a good choice. Opt for fat free tartar sauce or attempt to flavor seafood more with marinades or spices.
  • Cream Cheese – Another condiment for bagels or other baked goods, cream cheese should be used only in moderation if at all. Philadelphia Cream Cheese has 60 calories and 5 grams of fat in two table spoons. While many bagels available now feature only 100-200 calories, it is not advised to take away from that by using any more than s small bit of cream cheese. It can add unnecessary calories to a well-intentioned dieter’s meal plan. I suggest either eating only one tablespoon, or using the fat free version of cream cheese.
  • Syrup – While pancakes are not exactly a healthy option, they (and other foods) become detrimental to a healthy diet when paired with maple syrup. Most people who eat syrup use entirely too much, but even using a little bit is not a healthy choice. Aunt Jemima Maple Syrup contains 160 calories and 24 grams of sugar in three tablespoons. But how many of us measure out just three tablespoons? Again, syrup is used in too large of proportions and should be monitored carefully if used at all. I suggest light butter or one to two tablespoons of low sugar syrup.
  • Ketchup – This is one of the most common, addictive condiments used. Ketchup makes many, many foods have added flavor. Heinz Ketchup has 20 calories in one tablespoon. Considering the amount of ketchup most people eat, this can really add up quickly when put on a hamburger, chicken, fries, etc... It also contains 160 milligrams of sodium in one tablespoon. This is 7%of the recommended daily value. Most people eat more than one tablespoon. Too much sodium can lead to high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease. We must consume ketchup only in moderation or attempt to add additional flavor to our meals in other ways.
  • Sour Cream – Sour cream is used for preparing many dishes. It is often used as a condiment to baked potatoes as well. If one is not careful, he or she can turn a seemingly healthy meal into a high fat meal by using sour cream. Doing a dollop (2 tablespoons) with Daisy Sour Cream will add 60 calories and 5 grams of fat to our caloric intake. A typical meal sized baked potatoes has less than 300 calories. Too much sour cream can add way too many calories and fat to a decently healthy meal like a potato. Go for fat free sour cream or low fat cottage cheese instead of the regular.

These are just a handful of the many foods out there that can ruin a dieter’s meal by giving it added calories and fat. The point is we must always be careful when choosing foods to go along with the good choices we do make. Do not assume that because you are eating a salad that no matter what you add to it, it will still be healthy. It will not. Look closely at foods like these that many people often overlook. They have the ability to make or break the efforts we put into to eating right and staying in shape


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