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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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    • Express10 profile image

      H C Palting 

      5 years ago from East Coast

      So many people overlook these things and wonder why they are gaining weight. Many people overuse these items or use them so often that they are unable to burn off the calories. I use real maple syrup for pancakes which I only eat a few times in a year and even then I don't use a full serving...just enough to get the taste of the syrup. These are some great reminders for those who are not very aware of the things they are eating and how they contribute to their health/weight or the decline of these things.

    • RTalloni profile image


      6 years ago from the short journey

      Keeping mind that we need to go lightly on condiments during the holidays is a smart move. Thanks for the reminder.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Well I suppose once we try to be on a diet we try to spice up our food a little with some sauces as you described. Such as a salad on its own never tastes as good as with a salad cream for example. I can understand it can be difficult to keep away from sauces and dressings, I personally use them daily. I haven't really given it much thought that they could have many calories. Here in the shops we have lots of options available to us such as 'reduced fat' or 'fat free' or 'no added sugar' sauces, salad dressings, jams etc. I try to go for those over the traditional 'original' versions.

    • Sethughes profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago

      Thank you very much! Lemon is great for fish or chicken. I love marinades as well but they have so much sodium! Thanks for reading and for your comments!

    • Gypsy Rose Lee profile image

      Gypsy Rose Lee 

      6 years ago from Riga, Latvia

      Voted up and useful. Thanks for this very informative hub. It's true that condiments add up to calories but boy are they tasty. I stopped using a lot of condiments and now when I have fish or chicken I just squeeze on some lemon juice. Passing this on.

    • Sethughes profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago

      They lycopene may be good for you, but yes it can be overshadowed with the calories and sugar if overused. That's really the case with anything though. Oranges are good for us unless we eat 15 of them. haha. Thank you for reading!

    • the girls profile image

      Theresa Ventu 

      6 years ago from Los Angeles, California

      I thought ketchup was healthy with lycopene in it til I read your hub. One of my favorite condiments needs to be taken in moderation from today . Informative hub :-)

    • Sethughes profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago

      Oh wow sorry to hear that! Well miracle whip free is a far better alternative to mayo. Although, some say it isn't near the same as far as taste goes. I actually like it. It's a matter of preference. Still, I think my own health is of utmost importance so I try my best to avoid certain things.

      What is it you like to put mayonnaise on?

    • Ardot profile image


      6 years ago from Canada

      You just listed every single one of my favorite food additions as being unhealthy.


      What's a good substitute for mayo?


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