Mmm, warm sauteed mushrooms on greens, all the better tossed with a creamy dressing. We’ve got bad news: a salad like that easily clocks in at 500 to 600 calories, which is more than a McDonald’s Big Mac (522 calories).
Maybe you feel better because it’s raw veggies you’re dipping into your tahini, but at 89 calories per tablespoon – say you have five tablespoons – you might as well be having a Quarter Pounder with Cheese (532 calories) as mid-afternoon munchies.
Topping the calorie charts in the nuts category, an ounce of dry-roasted macademia nuts contain 204 calories – 88 per cent of which come from fat. That’s nuts! A reasonable serving of three ounces is nutritionally on part with a hearty McDouble with a medium Coke.
For a supposedly healthy food, raisins are calorically dense. A small 1.5-ounce box contains 145 calories – equivalent to two full cups of grapes, their pre-dried ancestors, or a yummy McDonald’s Hashbrown (149 calories).
Beware of the pre-baked or flavoured packaged varieties at the supermarket. The price you’re paying is about 150 calories per serving – a Vanilla Cone at McDonald’s (147 calories) – as compared to 50 calories per serving of plain tofu, which you can flavour up much more healthily.
Fruit juices and smoothies
Fruit juices and smoothies can contribute a lot more calories than you expect. Because of their high sugar content (fructose), they can make your blood sugar spike and dip very quickly, causing fluctuations in your insulin level and making you crave more sugar after you crash. Fructose, found in fruit juices and flavoured yoghurt, stimulates insulin, telling the body to convert calories into fat.
Plus, one cup of fruit juice uses more fruit than you’d normally consume, with all the nutrients and fibre blended out. You’re better off eating a piece of fruit and reaping its benefits instead.
READ MORE: 10 Fruits To Eat In The Morning For Better Weight Loss
Packaged “health foods”
A large part of packaged foods are processed, and some of the so-called health foods can irritate and inflame fat cells. Foods that are purportedly good for us, such as fruit yoghurt, fat-free cereals or granola, even gluten-free pasta and soy milk usually comprise ingredients that can cause inflammation, such as soy, corn and, of course, sugar, sending us into a vicious circle of weight gain.
Fight fat inflammation by filling your plate with fruits and vegetables that can put your body back into equilibrium. Opt for low-sugar fruits such as blueberries and low-starch, leafy veggies such as spinach, broccoli, kale and bell peppers for their antioxidative, cancer- and inflammation-fighting properties.
READ MORE: You Should Definitely Be Eating More Of These 8 Antioxidant-Rich Foods
Unless you’re eating these in place of a meal, be mindful of having them as a snack. Most energy bars contain about 200-250 calories, more than a snack should contain, and are loaded with sugar. The high levels of sugar can send your body into storage mode, converting them into glucose that stays in the bloodstream instead of getting expended as energy.
This is a prime example of how too much of a good thing can become a bad thing. Yes, peanut butter typically contains more unsaturated fat than saturated fat, and also provides you with fibre, some vitamins and minerals. But it’s another irresistible item that we tend not to realise we’re over-eating. Peanut butter is calorie-dense, and its savoury flavour makes it hard to stop at just one tablespoon. But two tablespoons of peanut butter contain about 220 calories, more than a snack’s worth. So go easy on the dipping, even if you’re having apple slices or celery sticks.