Arm Yourself With Knowledge
We’re going to unmask those camouflaged goodies that woo you with promises of energy, satisfaction, extra vitamins, masses of protein … NEWS FLASH – they’re the enemy, disguised with pretty labels and misleading verbage, laying in ambush, waiting to sabotage your weight loss and health efforts. Knowledge is your best weapon against these insidious tricksters. In this week’s Step we’ll identify some of the most popular saboteurs and give you the ammunition to effectively disarm them.
A Sticky Situation
While peanut butters marked “reduced fat” do have less fat than the average jar, they usually have just as many calories when you total up the additional sugar added to give the finished product the same flavor as the full fat version.
Jams that are labeled “all-fruit” tend to contain ingredients other than Fruit and may even have less Fruit than jams that don’t carry the “all-fruit” labeling. The label on the front a package is a clue to what it’s inside but not a promise. Where you’ll get the real info is in the Ingredients and Nutrition Info sections.
- “oil on top” nut butters – you can pour off some or all of the oil. These nut butters are also lower in saturated fat since the oil in them comes only from the nut instead of the added oil in other types of nut butters. When you pour off all the oil the resulting nut butter will be pretty dry so you may want to puree it with low-fat silken tofu or bananas for a low cal, low fat, refined-sugar-free, tasty treat or just puree it with the jam for any ready-made jar of sandwich filling.
- jams that list Fruit as the first ingredient in their ingredient list and that contain no refined sugars
These Goodies Will Double Cross You Every Time
Don’t be fooled by the cookies, cakes and other baked goods in the diet aisle which are labeled “low fat” and “sugar free”. The low fat items typically have a higher degree of refined sugar, the sugar free items could be sweetened with high fructose corn syrup, sorbitol, aspartame, Nutrasweet, or evaporated cane juice, all of which will stall your weight loss.
Graham crackers often have very little graham (whole wheat) flour and almost always will contain refined sugar.
Take a stroll down the diet or health food aisle and you’ll find many alternative cookies, cakes and other dessert items.
Get the Sugar Out: 501 Simple Ways to Cut the Sugar in Any Diet
This timely book is aimed at the millions of people whose low-fat diets aren’t providing the health benefits and weight loss they expect.
More than 50 recipes make Get the Sugar Out a great guide to low-sugar adaptations of favorite meals, snacks, drinks and desserts, along with tips on how to read food labels and ratings of popular foods.
Check out Gittleman’s recipe for Living Apple Pie on the UnDiet site this month.
Falling For Mr. Goodbar
Energy, sports and protein bars are generally not a good item for UnDieters. They’re designed as a portable meal replacement for athletes on biking trips or mountain treks. The excess protein they contain may do more harm than good when you eat them regularly as a snack between meals. Excess protein can cause the body to excrete calcium. When eaten regularly they could increase the risk of osteoporosis. Extra protein is not something that the average person needs to look for in their diet. Even a balanced vegetarian diet contains enough protein to sustain you. Besides these bars are almost always a mix of Protein and Starches, and contain a lot of refined sugars. The UnDiet alternatives are better snack options – they have approximately half the calories of energy/sports bars and no refined sugars.
The items below are great non-perishable meal replacements to carry with you when you’re on a hectic schedule:
- The diet and/or health food aisle of your local grocery store will have a good selection of meal and snack bars that cater to UnDieters, low carbers and diabetics. Of course you can also find these in a health food store.
- Low-fat granola: make your own or pick some up at the grocery or health food store – remember to read the ingredients list looking for refined sugars and added oils.
- Tofu Jerky (meat jerky is fine also, just difficult to find without all kinds of nitrites and other additives including refined sugars).
- Trail mix, make your own or look for it at your local grocery or health food store. Just remember to look for refined sugar and other additives and avoid them.
- Breakfast bars that contain whole food ingredients and do not contain refined sugars and trans-fats.
- Dried Fruit, make sure it’s sulfur-free.
- Really Nutritious Nutri-Grain Bars (the recipe will be in an upcoming Step)
When a Rose By Another Name is Not a Rose (so sorry WS)
Watch out for tricky labeling. Air-popped popcorn flavored with high-fat or sugary coatings can supply as much fat and calories as potato chips. Words like “stone ground wheat” or “hearty” used to describe crackers trick you into believing that they’re made with whole grains, when they may not be at all. Read the ingredient list to determine if “stone ground wheat” products are actually made with “whole wheat”, the key word being “whole” whenever an ingredient list is referring to a grain. And don’t forget to check further down on the ingredient list as many whole grain products also contain refined sugar in the form of “high-fructose corn syrup”. “Evaporated cane juice” or “brown rice syrup” are good alternative sweeteners.
Fruit leathers and other Fruit-based treats whose labels claim they’re made with real Fruit may not contain much real Fruit at all.
The word “natural” on a food label does not always mean the product is healthy. So-called “natural” Fruits can contain refined sugar since sugar is considered a “natural” ingredient.
- Healthy Choice or Newman’s Organic microwave popcorn contains no trans-fats and the surprise bonus is that you’ll never taste a better microwave popcorn than Newman’s Own Organics.
- packaged popped organic popcorn which you can find at any health food store or health food aisle of grocery store
- If you can find Farmer Steve’s Organic Microwave Popcorn consider yourself lucky – it’s oil-free and lightly salted.
- Triscuits and Wheat Thins are good cracker choices, although I find that the low-fat versions of both of these crackers tend to taste stale, so stick with the regular version.
- Sulfur-free dried Fruit snacks with Fruit or dried Fruit listed first or second in the ingredient list.
With juice-bar Fruit and frozen yogurt shakes, often called “smoothies” you can gulp down a LOT of calories and refined sugars. If Fruits are processed in a juicer, most of their fiber is lost, and the fiber is what makes you feel full. Then, juice concentrates are added which make for additional calories with absolutely zero nutritional benefit.
At a juice bar:
- Pick vegetable blends instead of juice blends.
- Choose juices which are made fresh at that bar (usually orange, apple, and grapefruit).
- Order a smoothie instead of a juice. Smoothies contain the whole fruit, whereas a juicer removes the fiber. Look for smoothies made with fresh juice, bananas, and/or yogurt (if it’s sugar-free).
If you’re at home you can whip up a low calorie smoothie that’s brimming with live digestive enzymes. Drink up and you won’t miss your juice-bar smoothie at all. If you’re short on time you can make up a pitcher full of smoothie and then just pour them into your thermal cup as you run out the door.
Yogurts marked “natural” or “no artificial ingredients” can contain refined sugar and/or high fructose corn syrup (but not artificial flavors or colors). Yogurts whose labels don’t have the “live and active cultures” seal may not contain the live bacteria cultures that give yogurt it’s health and digestive benefits. Puddings made with “70% nonfat milk” may contain more fat than puddings made with whole milk, because vegetable oil may have been added. Kind of makes you mad doesn’t it when you see how the “art of labeling” messes up your attempts to eat healthy?
- “Reduced fat” and “part skim milk” cheeses have less fat than regular cheeses, yet taste and melt almost the same – “nonfat” cheeses however, don’t taste or melt any better than the packaging they come in.
- Yogurt with the “live and active cultures” seal on the label and no refined sugars.
- Ready-to-eat puddings without fats or oils high on their ingredient lists and with no refined sugars.
- UnDiet Fruit Puddings such as Cocoa Pudding and Raisin Nut Pudding.
Frozen Ass-ets (which is where these treats will end up on you!)
Frozen fruit bars usually aren’t 100% Fruit. Some contain a high percentage of refined sugar. Low-fat pudding or ice cream bars often contain so much refined sugar and processed ingredients that the lack of fat is hardly the issue. Even the sugar-free varieties are no plus for weight loss when they’re sweetened with Nutrasweet/aspartame.
- Commercially frozen bars made from 100 % Fruit or juice – can also contain yogurt, cream, milk, or nuts.
- Homemade frozen bars made from any UnDiet Fruit Shake, Fruit Pudding, or Citrus Cooler.
Caught in a Crunch
Even though vegetable chips contain about half the fat of regular potato chips they have almost the same number of calories. Terra chips substitute insulin producing vegetables such as sweet potatoes, carrots, and beets for plain old spuds. Designer chips contain such a small amount of nonstarchy vegetables or whole grains that you’re not getting much more fiber or antioxidants than you’d find in a bag of old-fashioned potato chips. The big issue here is that during weight loss these starchy vegetables cause your body to produce more insulin than is conducive to weight loss. When you’re into maintenance these chips are okay – just not on a daily basis.
- Baked Tortilla Chips (make your own – the store-bought variety tastes awful) – corn is another insulin overloading vegetable though so save these for maintenance or eat them sparingly.
- Make your own whole wheat tortilla and pita chips.
- Air-popped popcorn, with or without a short burst of butter spray, sea salt, Parmesan cheese, herbs & spices – popcorn is an insulin overloading food so save these for maintenance or eat sparingly.
- Zucchini Chips, Kale Chips, Apple Chips – make your own or find a brand that you like.
- Chew on dried tomatoes – sort of like an Italian jerky.
- Cheddar Crisps
- Spicy Cheese Crisps
- Sun Chips brand chips are made with whole wheat, but eat sparingly. In other words, enjoy the 100 calorie bag but don’t use them as a substitute for dinner.
For those on Protein Blast:
- Pork rinds (sounds gross but they’re really good) give you the satisfaction of a crunchy snack. They’re high in fat but you’re not worrying about that on a Protein Blast, are you?
- Cheddar Crisps
- Spicy Cheese Crisps
- Zucchini or Kale Chips
Tips & Tricks
Stop a moment before you reach for a snack. When you’re stressed, tired, frustrated, bored, angry … it’s so easy to grab a prepackaged snack food. Instead, get away from what you’re doing, even if for just a little while; take a walk, run an errand, make a phone call, visit an office compatriot … Then if you still feel you need a little something, choose an UnDiet alternative.
Write out at least a week’s worth of menu’s using your favorite grocery store’s ads to plan sale items into your menu.
Step By Step
1. Be on the lookout for your particular camouflaged saboteurs.
2. Shop for and/or prepare alternatives that satisfy and beat your saboteurs at their game.
3. Print out this Step and post it near the places where you snack attacks creep up on you.
4. Go to Coupon Clearinghouse – find coupons for thousands of food items.
5. Once you’ve cleaned out your cupboards you’re ready to move on to Step 4: Separate Foods.