If whittling your waistline is high on your priority list, my number one piece of advice is to watch your portion size. I know you’ve heard dietitians, personal trainers and wellness gurus bang on and on about it for years but that’s because nailing your portions can be the difference between losing weight or not.
You see, even if you’re eating healthy foods, it’s possible to overdo it on the calorie front and the aim of the game when you’re trying to shed kilos is to create a calorie deficit.
To give you a helping hand on your weight loss endeavour, I’ve devised a list of seven easy-to-overdo health foods that could potentiallybe the reason you’re not seeing the scales shift.
Packed with heart-healthy fats, gut-loving fibre and the antioxidant Vitamin E, avocado is incredibly healthy but with over 400 calories per fruit, it can really ramp up your kilojoule intake. To put that into perspective, a balanced calorie intake for weight loss is around 1, 500 per day. So, to keep your avo intake on the lighter side, stick to just a quarter a day.
2. Dried fruit
Although fresh is always best, a little dried fruit every now and then is perfectly fine as part of a healthy diet. In comparison to fresh fruit, however, dried fruit is far more concentrated, so you shouldn’t consume anywhere near as much. Instead, stick to just a small handful (about 30 grams).
3. Extra virgin olive oil
Do you drizzle extra virgin olive oil over anything and everything, just like the celebrity chefs on TV do? While there’s no denying it’s oh-so-good for you, as a pure fat olive oil is incredibly energy dense with almost 200 calories per tablespoon. I wouldn’t suggest cutting out extra virgin olive oil altogether, just cutting back on how much you use in your cooking. Think a tiny drizzle rather than an over-the-top glug.
A top-notch muesli with lots of fibre and quality carbs, paired with protein from yoghurt or milk is one of my favourite dietitian-approved ways to start the day – but pouring a mountain of muesli into your brekkie bowl is a sure-fire way to go overboard on calories. A healthy portion of muesli is just half a cup. There’s no need to measure it out every single day, but it wouldn’t hurt to re-calibrate your serves with a measuring cup every now and then.
Although it’s considered a ‘healthy food’, juice doesn’t actually score a lot of points in my books. Yes, it’s made from fruit and offers some micronutrients, but juice lacks the satiating fibre that whole fruit contains. It also takes several pieces of fruit to make a cup of juice, which means juice can pack a stack of calories. If you’re really craving something sweet, opt for just half a cup, otherwise, water should be your sip of choice.
Hummus is a wonderful way to get legumes into your main meals and snacks, especially on wholegrain crackers or with veggie sticks. Made from chickpeas, hummus provides the winning trio of low-GI carbs, plant-based protein and hunger-busting fibre, but it’s often made with oil, so it can contain a lot of calories in a relatively small portion. Instead of devouring the whole tub, aim for just a tablespoon at a time.
Pasta is very good for you, especially if it’s the wholemeal type because it’s packed with slow-burning energy, stacks of fibre for a happy tummy and plenty of micronutrients to keep your body working its best. But instead of piling your plate high with spaghetti bolognese, stick to just one cup of cooked pasta per meal. That’ll leave enough room for a little bit of protein and lots of veggies, shifting a traditional carb and calorie-heavy meal into everyday fodder.
Melissa Meier is a Sydney-based accredited practising dietitian. You can connect with her on Instagram @honest_nutrition.