Planning on shedding a few pounds before your holiday this summer, or want to squeeze back into your favourite jeans post-holiday, after the all-inclusive buffet and endless cocktails? It may be time to detox your kitchen cupboards for some seemingly healthy foods, which could actually be doing more damage than good to your waistline.
“Whilst avocados are full of amazing antioxidants and healthy fats, they come with a hefty energy content. Avocados can contain anywhere between 250-400 calories each. Whilst there’s nothing wrong with having an avocado a day, it’s important to adjust your diet accordingly to account for the added calories,” explains our Nutritionist, Cassandra Barns.
2. Fruit Yogurt
“The label might say ‘low fat fruit yogurt’ and so you would think it would help with controlling your weight, but the yogurt can contain up to 8 teaspoons of added refined sugar. Often sugar is the next ingredient after milk in highest amounts in the yogurt. This type of yogurt will be a high GI food causing your body to release more insulin to deal with the quick rise in blood sugar (blood glucose) and insulin is your fat storing hormone of the body,” explains Dr Marilyn Glenville, the UK’s leading Nutritionist, author of Natural Solutions for Dementia and Alzheimer’s (www.marilynglenville.com).
“When it comes to nuts, almonds can be very moreish, and it’s easy to polish off a small 100g bag whilst racking in nearly 600 calories within minutes. Portion control is absolutely vital with a handful being the optimal portion size,” says Cassandra.
4. Tomato Pasta Sauce
“You would think that tomato sauce would be healthy as it is low in fat but unless you make it yourself it can also be high in added sugar. And you if you then pour this over white pasta, which in itself is a high glycaemic index food because it is a refined carbohydrate like sugar then you have a double whammy on your weight gain,” says Marilyn.
5. Dried Fruits
“Dried fruits are a highly concentrated source of sugar. To give you an example – fresh strawberries contain 6g of sugar per 100g, whilst dried strawberries contain 60g per 100g. This is more than double the amount of sugar found in ice cream.
“Excess sugar consumption is one of the top causes of weight gain. Sugar stimulates the release of the fat storage hormone insulin and triggers further food cravings, especially for sweet foods. To help curb sugar cravings try taking chromium, which has a vital role in supporting normal blood glucose levels, and therefore helping to prevent the dips that cause us to crave sugary foods. Try Quest Vitamin’s Equigluco (from £12.12, www.qnutrapharma.com), Take one tablet a day, preferably with breakfast,” suggests Cassandra.
“Muesli conjures up a picture of a healthy breakfast and is often accompanied in adverts in a beautiful alpine setting with trees, bright blue skies, clear lakes and clean air. But not all muesli’s are the same and as with anything you buy you need to read the label and not just go by the hype on the front of the packet. Many can be laden with high amounts of added sugar and salt and this can turn a healthy breakfast into an unhealthy one,” advises Marilyn.
7. Rice Cakes
“Rice cakes are often thought of as a low fat, gluten free health food. However, most rice cakes are made from white refined rice, leaving them with a glycaemic index close to 91 (pure glucose has a rating of 100).
“This means that rice cakes breakdown into sugar rapidly within the body, resulting in blood sugar imbalances and weight gain,” explains Cassandra.
“You might think that a can of soup would be a light and satisfying meal but again you have to read the ingredients on the label. Many of them will have added sugar and some also have glucose syrup. Both the sugar and glucose is going to cause a rise in blood glucose and then an increase in release of insulin which triggers to store fat,” explains Marilyn.
10. Cold-pressed Juices
“Cold-pressed is the new health craze with juice bars popping in London every few weeks. However does cold-pressed mean juices are actually healthier? Cold-pressed is a special type of extraction method, where the juice is literally pressed out of the fruit or vegetable using very little heat. It is said that cold pressed juice contains higher nutrition levels and a more intense flavour.
“Whilst this is completely true, it doesn’t take away the fact that many of these juices are still jam packed full of the fruit sugar called fructose. Excess fructose consumption can lead blood sugar imbalances, obesity, metabolic syndrome and even increased risk of fatty liver disease. The best option would be to choose vegetable only green juices which have very low sugar contents,” suggest Cassandra.
10. Skimmed milk
“For years it seemed like common sense to choose the low fat, low calorie milk option. But in reality by choosing skimmed milk, we are missing out on much need fat soluble nutrients like vitamins such as D, A, E.
Fat really isn’t the health villain we have been led to believe. It has now been disproved that full fat milk leads to weight gain and heart disease. In fact organic full fat milk provides us with many essential fatty acids like omega 3’s and conjugated linoleic acid, which have powerful inflammatory and brain health benefits,” explains Cassandra. “Some people don’t produce the enzyme lactase, which helps them breaks down lactose, a sugar found in milk. You need this enzyme in your body in order to break down the lactose, otherwise it ferments in the gut causing pain, gas and bloating. Try taking GI Natural from Nature’s Plus (£23.75, www.revital.co.uk) to promote digestive ease and comfort,” adds Cassandra.