Foods are not all equal when it comes to how they impact our body weight. We all know someone who can eat anything and not gain weight. Having bariatric surgery didn’t turn me into one of them! It has been shown that people who eat the following foods on a regular basis are more likely to be obese.
If you are overweight, obese or morbidly obese and you believe that you eat the same foods as your naturally slim friends, it is a relatively sure bet that you are mistaken. I know this is harsh and it has taken me many years to see this in myself but I did not make the same choices as those around me who were slim. Being ‘naturally’ slim is not just by design, it’s also by the preferences they have and choices they make that sometimes seem effortless to those of us who struggle with weight. Studies show that people who are slim don’t look for reasons to indulge and keep a similar schedule by consuming moderate or lower calorie foods day in and day out.
The glaring reality is that obese people DO make poor choices – some of these foods are calorie dense, while others are naturally large and hard to eat in smaller portions. Some are BOTH high in calories and difficult to consume in daintier amounts.
It’s no surprise that folks who eat these foods on a regular basis, pack on and maintain heavier body weights. The solution is awareness, portion control and simply choosing foods that taste as good that are not so high in calories. We have to first see it and then work to change it.
Here are 8 foods that overweight people tend to choose every day:
1. Fancy Coffee Drinks
Specialty coffee drinks are unbelievably high in calories and have most certainly contributed to our out of control obesity. We all know people who perpetually have a Venti coffee cup in hand. Hot, cold, whipped cream, straw, sprinkles, syrup… a Starbucks Caramel Brûlée Latte yummily featured on the CHALKBOARD has 560 calories and the Pumpkin Spice Latte 510… and that’s just crazy. We all know people who arrive at the office with one in hand and come back from lunch with another.
If you love coffee, order a coffee and add Splenda, fat free milk, nutmeg and cinnamon at the counter! An occasional splurge can be more along lines of a plain cappuccino which is more like coffee and less like an ice cream sundae.
No doubt that bagels are delicious and easy to grab and go en route to the office, but twenty years ago a bagel was about one third the size they are today. Bagels cause weight gain because they are large and dense. Giant coffee shop bagels, before spreading with butter or cream cheese or filling with egg bacon and cheese, can have 500 calories. Plus no one eats a bagel plain. Obvious problem.
3. Cream Cheese
Most people slather cream cheese on their 500 calorie bagel. Cream cheese is very high in fat and calories. Five tablespoons of cream cheese has 250 calories and 25 grams of fat and five tablespoons is not a lot to use on a bagel the size of your head. The scoop used to portion the cream cheese for ‘bagel with cream cheese’ at Dunkin Donuts is more than 5 tablespoons! (trust me, I used to be gleeful at sight of one inch of cream cheese on a Dunkin ‘Everything’ Bagel)
Reduced fat cream cheese, called Neufchâtel, is really good and has about half the calories. Most helpful would be to swap the hub cap sized bagel for something better for you that does not require cream cheese (or at least not that much of the stuff).
4. Salad Dressing
You may think you’re making a healthy choice by having a house salad but blue cheese or ranch dressing drowns health benefits with fat and 200 to 300 calories. We all agree that creamy blue cheese dressing is delish, but a drizzle of olive oil and squeeze of fresh lemon or balsamic vinegar accents the fresh flavors and tastes good. Dining out doesn’t mean open permission to treat yourself to the highest calorie options. Respect yourself.
5. Processed Carbs
Pasta, rice, bread, tortillas, cake and doughnuts represent thousands of extra calories for people who consume these carbs – White Flour is nutritionally useless and provides the base for empty calories from a second whammy of high fructose corn syrup that is in baked and packaged goods consumers buy every day.
Portions for many of these foods are so large it is easy to consume much more than intended. One cup of cooked pasta is about 200 calories before adding sauce. There are very few US restaurants that would ever serve less than a 2 cup portion so we are already at 400 calories and when that pasta serves as the bed for Shrimp Scampi, the dish can easily top 1200 calories with 50 grams of fat. I recently dined with a gastric sleeve friend who ordered Shrimp Scampi without the pasta but then asked for rice instead. She dumped the rice into the inch of butter/margarine/garlic in the bottom of the shrimp bowl to soak up all that fat and then ate it all. She is upset she is seventy pounds heavier than during her ‘Honeymoon Period’ yet says she has not changed a thing about how she eats.
A better and lower calorie option (and equally delicious) would have been Old Bay seasoned steamed shrimp with side salad – even with blue cheese dressing at least it would not have been two high fat high calorie choices. Just sayin’.
6. High Calorie Beverages
Juice has vitamins and some even antioxidants or calcium. However, it is very easy to unwittingly consume a lot more calories than we believe. People mistakenly switch from soda to juice thinking it’s healthier and while it is a slightly better choice, one can easily suck down 400 calories of OJ in a flash. The culprit? We use HUGE GLASSES or CUPS that blur our sense of portion size. We can drink an entire days worth of calories and wonder why we are gaining. Thats why zero calorie liquids are essential for weight loss and maintenance.
Do this experiment in your own kitchen – fill your favorite glass with water as if you were pouring yourself juice or milk. Get out a measuring cup and prepare to be shocked by the actual volume of your pour! Now measure 1 cup of water into that favorite glass and take note of how small an amount it is!
Sweetened beverages run about 125 calories per 8 ounces in a world where 24 to 32 ounce cups are the norm. The Healthy Low Fat Super Fruit Smoothie at Panera Bread is 350 calories and has 68 grams of sugar…and its only 16 ounces!
A friend of mine with a gastric sleeve downs Sweet Tea, (NOT Splenda sweetened tea) by the gallon. Hundreds of calories a day. Boom. She also drinks her Sweet Tea with her meals, washing food through her sleeve, but that’s for another post.
7. Chips and Crackers
Most commercial bagged snacks – corn chips, potato chips, tortilla chips – are high in trans fat. Many also contain genetically engineered ingredients. Vegetable chips are just as high in fat and most don’t realize that the apple and banana chips they think are healthy are deep fried.
If you are going to occasionally have some chips, never eat directly from the bag, instead measuring into a small cup or buying individual bags is a smarter more controlled choice.
8. Chinese Food
Kung Pao Chicken, Sweet & Sour Pork and General Tso’s Chicken are all huge calorie bombs. High in fat and sugar, these American Chinese dishes are made with battered and deep fried pieces of chicken or pork tossed in sauces that are sky high in sugar. Chinese food can be fresh light delicious and crazy healthy but choosing a dish that is not deep fried is essential. Avoid Egg Rolls and Crab Rangoon; also American dishes that are very high in fat and calories.
Old habits die hard but they are just habits. Tastes can be retrained but we first have to come to terms and accept that it IS within our control and we DID cause our own obesity. Bariatric surgery is just a tool to use to help us get out from under the burden of 100 pounds or more but after that it’s up to us. After the ‘Honeymoon Period’ where weight loss is automatic, we are driving the car and need to use the surgically created tool to stay on the highway. Know what you are eating and think as to whether or not that 500 calorie creamed spinach would make you that much happier than 70 calorie grilled asparagus. Which one would your naturally slim friend choose?