Don’t be seduced by “sugar-free” or “fat-free” goodies. Check out our 10 low-fat treats that can wreck your diet
You’ve been eating smart all summer long despite the weekend movie trips and backyard cookouts. But some of those low-fat meals and snacks may not be as slimming as you think. Before you sabotage your diet, check out this gallery of diet food impostors, and be sure you’re really making healthy choices!
“Real Fruit” Beverages
That Fruitopia drink at the mall was a great way to get in a serving of fruit, right? Wrong. These drinks are only 5 percent 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 percent 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.
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 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.
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.