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4 Surprising Diet Disasters

We are excited to share one of our fave stories from Prevention here on FitSugar!

The surprising ways you turn healthy foods into diet disasters
By Nancy Rones, Prevention

1. Your marinades pack a big fat punch
You're wise to choose skinless grilled chicken, but be careful with condiments. Barbecue sauce is filled with sugar, which equals calories (about 94 per 1/4 cup).

The healthy move
Ditch the high-sugar sauce and instead spice up chicken by marinating it with cayenne red-pepper sauce, or mix hot sauce with some fat-free yogurt and smear it on your sandwich for buffalo-inspired flavor. Another way to punch up the taste and nutrient power of grilled chicken sandwiches and turkey burgers: Try a topping of homemade slaw. Bagged shredded cabbage makes a convenient base; toss it with flavored vinegar or fat-free mayo and a little mustard. At 11 calories per 1/2 cup, raw cabbage offers filling fiber and vitamins such as C and B6, and as a cruciferous veggie, it contains cancer-fighting antioxidants.

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2. Your coffee is anything but "regular"
Sipping coffee or tea plain isn't the problem. In fact, both beverages have been linked to a number of health benefits, including a lower risk of heart disease and cancer. A study in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry also suggests that drinking coffee may reduce your chances of type 2 diabetes. But major calories and saturated fat come with added ingredients such as sugary syrups, honey, whipped cream, and whole milk (1 percent and percent aren't much better). For about the same 450 calories in a large Iced Mocha Raspberry Latte at Dunkin' Donuts, for instance, you can eat two slices of Pizza Hut's hand-tossed pepperoni pizza. And while honey may seem like a natural, healthier alternative to sugar, the fact is it has 21 calories per teaspoon versus sugar's 16.

The healthy move
For a low-cal, lower-fat drink that feels like a sweet treat, choose coffee beans in tempting flavors such as chocolate almond, hazelnut, or white chocolate, rather than using syrupy mix-ins after brewing, and lighten your coffee with fat-free milk. Teas, too, come in sweet vanilla, berry, and tropical fruit blends. And whether you use Splenda, sugar, or honey in your beverages, limit yourself to about a teaspoon.

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Make sure you're not committing the other two disaster when you read more!

3. Your salad is a high-cal landmine
The virtue of a salad starts to wilt when you add more than one calorie-dense topping, such as cheese, nuts, dried fruit, or croutons. Cheeses can register high in bad saturated fat, and though nuts have monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats that may help raise good (HDL) cholesterol, a small serving of walnuts (about 7 pieces) can add up to about 185 calories and 18 g of fat. Plus, some add-ons are high in sodium.

The healthy move
Nelson offers an easy-to-remember ratio for preparing entrée salads: "Three-quarters should be fresh fruits and vegetables, and the last quarter should be a combo of lean protein, like chicken, plus a complex carbohydrate such as wheat berries or quinoa. Then allow yourself two tablespoons of calorie-dense items." For major nutrition impact with minimal calorie load, forgo dried fruit in favor of fresh pomegranate seeds; they're potent in polyphenols, and researchers at Case Western Reserve University found that pomegranate extract may be effective in reducing the inflammation that can lead to arthritis.

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4. You drown foods in olive oil
Extra virgin olive oil is high in "good" monounsaturated fat — the kind of fat that can help lower LDL cholesterol — but it also has about 477 calories and 54 g of fat per 1/4 cup. If you don't measure the amount of oil you use to sauté, grill, broil, or roast, you can end up with way more than you need.

The healthy move
When grilling or broiling, use a pastry brush or nonaerosol pump to lightly glaze food with oil, says Jennifer Nelson, RD, director of clinical dietetics and nutrition at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN. If you're making a stir-fry, wipe a paper towel dipped in olive oil around the wok before adding ingredients — or better yet, use a nonstick skillet. You can also make your sautés sizzle with wine, soy sauce, chicken broth, or 100 percent carrot, tomato, or vegetable juice. And try poaching your fish in low-fat broth or watered-down orange juice; the fillets will soak up some of the liquid, which will make you feel fuller, says Barbara Rolls, PhD, professor of nutritional sciences at Pennsylvania State University and author of The Volumetrics Eating Plan.

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