You may think these foods are healthy choices but moderation is the key. They can be weight-gain traps.
Are high in fat – most of them are around 50% fat – and therefore high in kilojoules. Even though many of them contain good fats and useful antioxidants, eat them in tiny quantities to get their positive benefits without adding too many extra kilojoules.
Three Brazil nuts contain over 200% of the recommended dietary intake (RDI) for selenium, 7.8g of fat and 320kJ; 1 tablespoon of raw peanuts has 4.5g fat and 220kJ.
So a healthy snack will just be a few nuts, maybe with a piece of fruit; or include a few nuts with your breakfast cereal to get their health benefits without too many extra kJ.
2. Fruit juices
Are energy-dense. You’re better off eating a whole piece of fruit which is not only lower in energy but more filling as the juice doesn’t contain the fibre.
1 glass of freshly squeezed orange juice has around 435kJ but an orange has half that amount. If you love fruit juice try 1/2 a glass of juice diluted with water and limit yourself to one a day.
3. Olive oil
1 teaspoon of oil or 1 teaspoon of butter both equal 5g of fat. Olive oil is a better type of fat but just because it’s better for you doesn’t mean you can add LOTS of it!
1 teaspoon of olive oil adds 173kJ. Get the benefits of the monounsaturated fats and antioxidants found in extra virgin olive oil by mixing smaller amounts of 1/2 oil and 1/2 balsamic (or any other favourite) vinegar to ‘sprinkle’ over salads.
4. Canned fish
A healthy protein choice, high in calcium and sometimes omega-3, but choose the ones in spring water or brine as those in oil can have the equivalent of 3 teaspoons of fat in the can (and it’s often not a good oil).
Check the labels on canned salmon and tuna for the omega-3 content as some are an excellent source of this beneficial fat. Go for ones with 400mg or more of EPA+DHA in a serve.
5. Muesli bars
Come in all sorts of shapes and sizes – choose one that is whole meal, oven-baked fruit filled. A good starting point is a bar with less than 600kJ, less than 5g fat and less than 9g sugar.
6. Muffins/carrot cakes
Can just be ‘cakes’ in disguise. Buy (or make) fruit and bran varieties and make sure they are cup-cake size – not Texan sized!
To make a traditional muffin recipe healthier: halve the amount of flour, and add unprocessed bran (2 times the volume as it’s lighter); cut the fat right down but add fruit for moisture; use a light polyunsaturated margarine instead of butter and use trim milk.
7. ‘Lite’ chips
Lite refers to the thin cut of the chip and possibly lightly added salt. These still contain approximately 3 teaspoons of fat in a small 50g packet!
Chips are a no-go zone for anyone wanting to watch their weight. Find healthier snacks you’ll enjoy instead. Try a few rice crackers with light cottage cheese, carrot or celery sticks with a low-fat dip.
8. ‘Baked not fried’
Does not necessarily mean low-fat. If you see this claim on the pack, check the fat content per 100g and compare it to other similar products. Whether baked or fried, some crackers can be over 25% fat.
Why not try rice crackers, water thins, litebread, Ryvita, rice thins or others with less than 5% fat?
9. Caesar salad
Just because there’s some lettuce in it doesn’t mean it’s healthy: a classic French dressing, loads of parmesan and deep-fried croutons, sometimes with fatty bacon added, make this salad high in fat.
For a healthy version try this Mexican caesar salad recipe using light tortillas, lean bacon and oil free French dressing
10. ‘Fat-free’ confectionery
Most sweets get their energy from sugar not fat, so this claim bears no relationship to the energy content of the confectionery. Look at the nutrition information panels to compare energy content of different products.
If you crave a sweet treat try sugar-free gum; flavoured water; grainy bread with honey; a low-energy ice cream or frozen yoghurt; or a low-kilojoule chocolate drink like Jarrah Chocolatté.