These foods and drinks may seem healthy, but might be stopping you from finally dropping that last little bit of weight before holiday party season goes into full swing.
Coconut oil: Coconut oil is definitely the oil of the moment among her clients, says Miller. But, she warns it’s a saturated fat and the “jury’s still out on its impact on heart disease.” Because people have the image of the oil coming from a natural, plant-based fruit, clients think that gives them licence to slather it on everything, she notes. No so. At about four grams of saturated fat and 40 calories for a mere teaspoon of the stuff, the dietitian recommends people use coconut oil “in small amounts.”
Fruit juice: Don’t get drawn in by pretty drawings of fruit on the cartons of fruit juices, says Garneau. Many so-called fruit juices actually have little fruit, but lots of processed sugar in them. Instead of drinking apple juice, eat an actual apple –that way you are getting fibre and natural sugars, recommends the Aussie actor and activist. And, if you want to sip on something, infuse your flat or sparkling water with flavour by adding some actual sliced fruit to your glass.
Granola bars: “Granola bars are really just chocolate bars in disguise,” says Miller. If you’re on the go and really want a granola bar, read the label and make sure it has at least four grams of fibre and less than eight grams of sugar, advises Miller. And, if you don’t want to give up your granola bar habit, consider making a batch from scratch on the weekend so you can control what’s in them and then freezing the rest for the week ahead.
Microwave popcorn: Someone alert Olivia Pope ASAP, it turns out microwave popcorn is often “really high in saturated fat and sodium,” says Miller. If you like popcorn, invest in an old-school popcorn maker and buy popcorn kernels at your local grocery store, recommends the dietitian. And, if you crave flavour you can add some freshly ground pepper and a little real butter, too, she adds.
Gluten-free cookies: A gluten-free cookie is still a cookie, says Miller. And, often while gluten-free products have a “health halo” surrounding them, they are just as bad, if not worse for you, than the real thing. That’s because to compensate for the lack of flavour and texture manufacturers add unhealthy additives. If you want a cookie, then have a real gluten-filled cookie, just limit the amount and frequency of your Cookie Monster attacks, advises the dietitian – unless of course, you can’t process gluten.
Red wine: Yes, several studies have found that the resveratrol in red wine might help prevent heart disease. But, that doesn’t mean you should be drinking a whole bottle while toasting your good heart health every night with your dinner, warns Miller. Women should limit themselves to no more than one alcoholic drink per day, while men should limit themselves to two per day. But, remember it’s never wise to drink your calories and a six-ounce glass of vino has about 110 calories. And, cutting your consumption of red wine and other alcohol down, or out completely, could help you finally drop those last few inches before the new year.
Low-fat yogurt: When fat is removed from items, such as yogurt, it’s usually replaced with something else for flavour and texture, notes Damon Gameau, star of “That Sugar Film,” in a phone interview from Australia. The Aussie gained 19 pounds after eating 40 teapsoons of sugar daily for 60 days to illustrate the effects of eating too much sugar for his documentary. Opt for plain, unflavoured, regular-fat yogurt and sprinkle some cinnamon on top if you crave a bit of sweetness.
Almond milk: Many slim starlets, like Gwyneth Paltrow, have talked about cutting dairy out of their diets when they are trying to be healthier. But, Andrea Miller, a registered dietitian based in Whitby, Ont., and a spokesperson for Dietitians of Canada, says not only is it perfectly healthy for most people to consume cow’s milk, many of the milk alternatives are not healthy alternatives. She says packaged almond milk, the alterna-milk du jour, in particular, often has added sugars. Plus, unless it’s fortified, almond milk is not a good source of protein, calcium or vitamin D, she points out.