Some of those low-fat diet meals and snacks may not be as slimming as you think. Before you sabotage your diet, check out this gallery of low-fat diet food impostors, and be sure you’re really making healthy choices!
“Real fruit” beverages That fruit punch drink at the mall was a great way to get in a serving of fruit, right? Wrong. These drinks are only 5% fruit juice, and because they’re full of sugar, a 20-oz bottle packs 300 or more calories—as much as a cream-filled doughnut! Have a box of 100% juice instead.
Poultry hot dogs Unfortunately, just like pork and beef hot dogs, poultry dogs often include skin and fat, so they’re no healthier than their “authentic” counterparts. Opt for low-fat or fat-free franks instead. And no matter what variety you get, check the Nutrition Facts label for the real skinny on fat content.
Sugar-free cookies and candy “No sugar” must mean fewer calories—or at least that’s what the manufacturers want you to think! But most sugar-free brands have as many calories as the regular kind. And too much of the sugar alcohols used to sweeten these products can cause loose stools, diarrhea, and cramping. So indulge in the full-sugar brands; just do so in moderation.
Nutritional energy drinks The body derives energy from calories, so (surprise!) that’s what these shakes deliver: 240 extra calories a day, enough to make you gain 1/2 lb a week. Take a daily multivitamin to get the vitamins without the spare tire, and have a real milkshake once in a while.
Complete salad kits Salad-in-a-bag has been a lifesaver in many a busy mom’s kitchen, but they can pack a caloric wallop: 510 calories and 45 g of fat in one package of Dole Caesar Salad Kit. Buy the light variety instead, or add your own low-fat or fat-free dressing at home.
Vegetable pizza-for-one The veggies are healthy, all right. But the gobs and gobs of cheese they’re sitting on aren’t; they’re full of artery-clogging saturated fat. Look for low-fat diet versions, and be sure to check the saturated fat content so you can compensate elsewhere in your daily intake.
Bags of air-popped popcorn Air popping adds no fat, so this is perfect for a night in front of the TV, right? Sure, if you pop it yourself. But manufacturers add the fat after the popping is done; that’s why the popcorn is butter- or cheese-flavored. Air-pop your own instead, or buy the light microwave kind.
Trail mix It’s the perfect midafternoon snack, full of fruits and nuts, fiber, heart-healthy fat, and trace minerals. Why not down a whole bag? Because each 6-oz pack contains at least 800 calories. You could have dinner for that! Make sure you’re only eating one serving (about 3 tablespoons) each time you snack.
Fat-free ice cream topping Much like sugar-free cookies and candies, fat-free ice cream toppings are still full of calories, usually as many as their full-fat counterparts. And calories count no matter where they come from. Use a carefully measured portion of whichever topping you prefer, or look for the light varieties, which really do have fewer calories.
Reduced fat peanut butter The fat that’s removed is replaced by carbohydrate filler, so there’s no reduction in calories. And the fat in peanut butter is the healthy monounsaturated kind. So scoop out your 2 tablespoons (about the size of a golf ball), and stick with the full-fat varieties.
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