The New Year is beginning and majority of Americans are planning to start eating healthier and are trying to lose those extra pounds. From my experience with clients, there are some healthy foods out there that have wonderful health benefits but are loaded with calories. Many are unaware of their caloric content and eat huge portion sizes thinking they are increasing their health, but are in fact completely hindering their weight loss. Since overall weight loss is successful based on how many calories you ingest and how many you burn off, a few extra hundred calories can make or break your goals. Here are the top 4 foods I often see in food journals that people either overeat or thought were low in calories. Now don’t misunderstand me, these foods are very, very healthy foods. They are high in protein and mono and polyunsaturated fats. These are your “healthy fats” and are great for many diseases including heart disease, cholesterol, diabetes, etc. However, if a food is high in fat, it is high in calories. Back to the old rule of thumb, for every gram of carbohydrate and protein, it provides 4 calories, but for every gram of fat it provides 9 calories. So double! So while I don’t want you to exclude these from your diet, I do want you to watch portion sizes!!!
- Nuts: An appropriate portion size for nuts is ¼ cup. This serving size of most nuts equals around 200 calories. Great for a snack if you can eat just the standard ¼ cup. But just think, if you eat 1 cup of nuts a day (not that hard to do if you sit there with the bag or can) that equals almost 800 calories!
- Peanut Butter: I can’t stress enough how important it is to read every food label! An appropriate serving size listed is 2 tbsp which equals about 200 calories. Measuring your portion size is key, you may assume you are getting 2 tbsp (measure it out, its not that much!) when you are actually getting 4, which would double your calories, making your 300 calorie sandwich 500 calories or more.
- Avocados: One medium avocado equals around 300 calories, while most other medium size fruits equal about 50 calories. 1 pureed cup has about 380 calories, so adding just 2 oz to your sandwich will add an additional 100 calories or more.
- Coconut: 1 cup shredded = 280 calories and 1 cup coconut milk = 500 calories!!!!
Happy and Healthy New Year!
Estelle L. Benoit, RD, LDN