Posted by:
Heather Haehle

Heather Haehle

December 22, 2014

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How to Stick to a Diet

It’s a new year and you know what that means: you’re on yet another health kick. In fact, as you read this you’re probably counting down the minutes until you can eat your “diet-friendly” snack. But is it as low-cal as you think? We all know that potato chips and doughnuts have little nutritional value, but some of the snacks that we think are healthy—smoothies, reduced-fat cookies, yogurt—are actually loaded with calories and sugar. We here at WORKS don’t plan on giving up snacking anytime soon, so we took a look at why your favorite eats aren’t doing your body any good. Then we came up with healthier—yet still tasty—options. Now you can quell your cravings without the guilt. Happy New Year!

Your “healthy” snack: A blueberry muffin

Why it’s not as healthy as you think: Though they taste delectable, muffins are bad for you on so many levels: One Starbucks blueberry muffin has 400 calories and 12 grams of fat, an entire meal’s worth of calories for many women. And unlike a balanced meal, these tasty treats won’t leave you satisfied for long because they’re made with refined rather than whole grains. Whole grains have fiber, which leaves you feeling fuller longer. Look for products that have at least 10% fiber for a healthy choice.

A better alternative: Quaker Instant Oatmeal Apples & Cinnamon. The apple-cinnamon flavor will satisfy your sweet tooth, and at 170 calories, you can have a hamburger instead of a salad for lunch or dinner. Plus, oatmeal has 11% of the recommended daily value of fiber, which will quiet your hunger pangs.

Your “healthy” snack: Popcorn

Why it’s not as healthy as you think: Butter, butter, and—yes—butter. Popcorn can be a healthy snack, but in proportional serving sizes and with reduced or no butter. One bag of regular buttered popcorn has 36 grams of fat and more than enough calories for an entire meal.

A better alternative: Single-serving-size packages of popcorn or a handful of raw almonds.

Your “healthy” snack: Fruit juice

Why it’s not as healthy as you think: A typical bottle of juice actually contains two servings and is made with high-fructose corn syrup, which is loaded with sugar and calories. Essentially, you’ll be drinking your lunch.

A better alternative: Any juice that says 100% juice on the bottle, like Tropicana 100% Pure OJ. Check to make sure high-fructose corn syrup isn’t on the list of ingredients and save half of the drink for tomorrow’s lunch to cut calories.

Your “healthy” snack: Smoothies

Why it’s not as healthy as you think: Smoothies are more like a meal replacement than a snack and are digested quickly, offering little long-term satiety. Save the smoothies for a post-workout pick-me-up, when the body needs to absorb nutrients fast.

A better alternative: Fresh fruit with yogurt or cottage cheese. The sweetness of the fruit will give your taste buds a jolt, and the fat and protein in the cottage cheese will keep you feeling full.

Your “healthy” snack: Premade fruit and yogurt parfaits

Why it’s not as healthy as you think: Though fruit, yogurt, and granola are healthy options, parfaits that you buy at restaurants or delis typically aren’t made with low-fat ingredients. Case in point: The parfait at Cosi, a national sandwich chain, clocks in at a whopping 586 calories.

A better alternative: Make your own. Buy low-fat granola, a low-fat, single-serving cup of yogurt, and a few fresh fruits and combine. When you know what goes into your parfait, you can limit the calorie count—and keep the same pant size.