Healthy Foods you may need to cut back on

So you are wanting to get healthy or healthier and make some changes to your diet to include more nutrients or cut back salt, fat and sugar. We know that cutting back refined, processed foods can reduce you and/ or family’s risk of Type 2 Diabetes, cardiovascular disease, including blood pressure and cholesterol, obesity, cancer risk and just create better energy levels. Eating a diet in fruit, vegetables, wholegrains, healthy fats and proteins promote a healthy gut, balanced energy levels, healthy mood, reduce disease risk, promote muscle growth and healthy hormonal balance plus much more!

It’s great that you may have swapped unhealthy options to healthier versions and you are feeling better for it, however, an issue I hear often is ‘I’m eating really healthy but I don’t feel like I am losing weight or my closes getting looser. In this case, portion size may still be a reason you haven’t seen your weight drop as much as you would like.

These are common foods that you may need to hold back on to achieve a little more of a weight drop.

Avocado. A healthy alternative to most spreads or dips, avocado if busting with healthy heart benefits with its mono unsaturated fats, potassium, magnesium, B6 (healthy mood), vitamin C, fibre and folate, but one standard avocado is around 320 calories, which is the same as a meal (think chicken stirfry with palmful of brown rice). So if you adding it to salads, or doing smashed avocado on toast, or guacamole in your tacos or ultimately eating a whole one of the day, try keep portions to ¼-1/3 or 1-2Tb of spreadable avo per day.

Nuts. Well done if you have swapped your sugary treats for a blood sugar and satiety sustaining healthy option like mixed nuts or just almonds. These have an abundance of nutrients including mono unsaturated fats too, calcium, selenium (antioxidant from Brazil nuts), omega 3s (walnuts), protein, a range of B vitamins needed for detoxification, hormonal and cognitive performance but if you are anything like me, you have that bag sitting in the draw at work or in the pantry at home and taken a couple of handfuls of nuts instead of portioning or measuring how much you are actually eating. One cup of nuts is around 800 calories! That for some is half your daily calorie limit. 800 calories is 8 chicken loins or around 5 chicken thighs (probably half a small chicken!) Best to portion them out into little ziplock bags and take them to work like that. ¼ of a cup is generally a good portion.

Similar with seeds, great to add to smoothies, salads, chia puddings, muesli, but seeds also add up pretty fast. Instead of sprinkling them on foods, get a tablespoon or teaspoon and measure out how much you are actually having, that way you even a little down size here and there may make all the difference. Also having a food diary can help when you itemise things over the week.

Olive Oil. Many research studies have proven cold pressed olive oil to have cardiovascular benefits and is high in Vitamin E which is great for the skin. However 1Tb of olive oil (and most other oils) is 120 calories so if the recipe calls for a TB but you are just cooking for one, then down size this to a tsp (unless you are going to have leftovers). Use a Tb between 2-3 people or serves. Same with drizzling on salads, sometimes best to pour into a tsp then drizzle on rather from the bottle. Olive oil, avocado oil are the best types of oil to cook with compared to rice bran, sunflower, canola as they are less refined and anti-inflammatory.

Cold pressed coconut oil has also come to favourable to cook with in recent years, especially for high heat dishes like stirfrys as it has a high smoke point. Coconut oil should be used in moderation due to it’s high saturated fat content but due to its composition of Medium Chain Fatty Acids (MCFA) and it contains capric, lauric and caprylic which have health giving properties like anti-microbial, anti-bacterial and may help in treating urinary tract and kidney infections. MCFA also promote ketosis, which is the processes of the body burning more fat as an energy source rather than carbohydrates. However like olive oil, you just need to be aware of how much you are eating or putting in different foods from spreading on toast, to cooking to baking to desserts.

Healthy Baking/ Raw Desserts/ Bliss balls. They look amazing and super healthy, taste great but can be very high in calories and sugars. Most are made with dates or maple syrup, agave, honey etc and even 2 bliss balls can be equivalent of 3-4 tsp of sugar. Your body doesn’t know if its from standard sugar or unrefined sugar, it will process it the same way and they both have the same calories. Also many of these ‘dairy free cheesecakes’ are made with soaked cashews in a combination with other nut butters or coconut oil, coconut cream so can be very rich. Keep these as a treat and watch portion sizes.

Peanut Butter. Definitely a common culprit, more so because it’s great to go in baking, in smoothies, on toast, rice cakes, apple slices or celery or just have on the spoon, an easy one to go OTT. A good protein source, healthy source of fat, balances carb cravings but 1Tb is 120 calories. Equivalent to a chicken breast. Having a Tb of with celery or an apple is fine as a snack but careful if you are adding more than that to toast or eating off the spoon.

Coconut yoghurt. Great for those that don’t tolerate dairy or lactose but most coconut yoghurts have a different portion size to standard yoghurt. Do check the label as if you are used to putting on the recommended or standard size 100-150g or ½ cup of dairy yoghurt on your muesli and then swap to coconut yoghurt, you will be tripling your calorie intake. Coconut yoghurt has a higher fat content and therefore higher calorie content than dairy based yoghurts (however there are some lower calorie coconut yoghurts on the market too now). Most serving sizes are only 1-2Tbs! Coconut yoghurt isn’t high in protein like dairy yoghurt, so do make sure you are getting enough protein in your diet elsewhere if you have swapped to coconut yoghurt. However, it can provide a great satiety affect due to the fat content.

Fruit. Full of healthy fiber to promote a healthy digestive tract and full of antioxidants and vitamins, like vitamin C, generally a healthy snack, however especially in summer, it is easy to go over the portions for fruit too and the sugar content can stack up pretty fast. The Ministry of Health recommend 2-3 serves daily not 5 pieces and 1 large banana can already be the equivalent of 2 serves. Especially in summer when smoothies are great for breakfast, just because of how much fruit you are adding in one time. Keep to 1-2 pieces if you snack on fruit during the day too. Add some veges like spinach, celery, carrots as a substitute. Having too much sugar in one drink can also spike your insulin levels. With grapes and cherries, keep a tabs of how much you are having (8-10 grapes or cherries). Try snack on veges and hummus if you have reached your fruit intake already.

Rice Crackers. Yes the are better than chips for fat and calories, as they are baked not fried but are not really high in any nutrients or fiber and many with flavourings are still high in salt, so you still need to watch how much you are having. One row is around 110 calories but for some it is easy to have 1-2 rows. They are gluten free and so can have less of a bloating effect than standard crackers too, just try to pick the wholegrain varieties plain flavours. Compare the sodium content per serving and per 100g.

While its’ definitely better to OTT on the healthy versions we have just discussed as they still have many nutrient and health properties for the body,  but if you are wanting or needing to lose excess body fat and haven’t seen things change since eating healthy, you may just need to reassess portions. 

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