Sometimes a carrot stick or a piece of broccoli is just fine on its own. But for a lot of us, carrot sticks and raw broccoli florets are a just a vehicle for delicious dressings– you know, like a thick ‘n chunky blue cheese, or a tasty ranch. And as you dip and dunk your veggies in the delectable sauce, you may even think to yourself… Well, at least I’m getting in a serving of vegetables right now. While that may be true, keep in mind that you’re also consuming tons of fat, salt, and not to mention calories.
It’s easy to get confused on what’s healthy and what isn’t (especially with all the misinformation that’s out there), and even easier to destroy your new “healthy” diet if you’re not sure of what to look out for.
Check out some of these all too common acts of diet sabotage, plus a few quick fixes brought to you by the Orange County boot camp, so you’re always armed with the knowledge you need to keep your waistline in check.
1. Dipping Healthy Veggies into Fatty Dressings
Vegetables are low in calories and high in nutrition and you’re doing your body a favor when you eat them, but if you’re the type to dunk your raw veggie sticks in creamy dressings then you’re not reaping the full benefits of the vegetables. Eating veggies can be tough for some people who just don’t like them, and sometimes dunking your vegetables seems like a great way to up your servings, but it’s ultimately going to end up on your waistline because those calories add up quick. Did you know that just two tablespoons of ranch is about 200 calories? Two tablespoons is hardly anything, so you’re likely to double it without even noticing.
Can’t quit the dip? There’s plenty of other, healthier options like mixing plain greek yogurt (which has twice the protein of regular yogurt to keep you fuller longer) in with some zesty salsa or a little horseradish or curry powder to give it a savory flavor. Fresh or prepared hummus or even a black bean dip are great to dip veggies in because they’re high in fiber, protein, flavor.
2. Switching from Regular Fries to Sweet Potato Fries
Sweet potatoes are pretty nutritious considering that they’re high in beta-carotene (the disease fighting carotenoid that your body converts to vitamin A), vitamin C, potassium, folic acid, and fiber. And a medium sized potato is only about 100 calories, but when you fry up a sweet potato along or any other vegetable (hey there, green bean fries and zucchini sticks) the fat and calories skyrocket. Not only that, frying certain vegetables causes them to lose some of their nutritional value and antioxidant power.
The healthier choice? A baked sweet potato is a much better option, and if you’re a fan of the skin you’ll also get another 4 grams of fiber. You can even add in a little cinnamon to satisfy any sweet cravings you may have. Grilling is another healthy option for your sweet potato as well as mashing and roasting, just make sure that you’re not adding too much extra butter or fattening ingredients.
3. Adding Too Many Salad Toppings
We’ve already went over the dangers of dipping your veggies into fatty dressings, and the same goes for salads, but there’s another waistline destroyer lurking about in your salad and that is calorie-dense toppings. Things like cheeses, crispy noodles or buttery croutons, glazed nuts, and sugary dried fruits are all really bad choices for a salad because they pack on unnecessary calories, sodium, or sugar. Also, adding too much avocado on a salad can be a bad thing when you’re watching your weight, even though it delivers heart healthy fats, you’ll just want to keep your avocado intake to a minimum.
Need new topping ideas? The boot camp in Orange County says you can still have your crunch if you switch to healthier options like water chestnuts, apple slivers, or a small serving of raw or roasted (but unsalted) nuts. If you like a sweeter option, you can pile on some chopped pear, grapes, mandarin oranges, or fresh pomegranate seeds.
Eating healthy is still sometimes a guessing game, but as you start to become more knowledgeable about certain foods you’ll find that it isn’t so tough to make better choices.