I’m a nutritionist and I bet you’re on the wrong diet – is your salad a “fat trap”?

Are you planning to slim down this year? You may want to take a quick look at the seemingly “healthy” foods you’re eating.

It turns out that some of our favorite “healthy” foods can be total fat traps.

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Your salad hides fat, sugar and salt?Credit: Getty

This includes granola, soup, and even the diet staple: salads.

So what mistakes are you making when it comes to your diet?

We spoke to two experts who shared their advice on what to avoid and what to enjoy…

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“Salads can be really nutritious and a great way to increase your plant intake; but not all salads are equal,” says Sophie Bertrand, registered dietitian and author of Forking Wellness.

Dressings can contain calories as well as extra saturated fat and added salt.

Creamy Caesar salad dressings are just as packed with calories and fat as are ranch-based dressings, says Rob Hobson, RD, chief nutrition officer at Healthspan Elite.

He says, “If your bandages are coming on their side, twist them and tuck them in instead.

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“Try a drizzle of olive oil with vinegar or some lemon juice.”

While the crispy, crunchy toast is delicious, it’s basically cubes of fried bread.

Give this stuff a try and instead toast half a pita for some crunch.

Not sure what to look for when buying a salad? Or, what should be included when making your own?

For a balanced, filling salad (that won’t have you looking for the cookie box after half an hour), Sophie says it’s best to look for a protein source (like beans, cheese, nuts, or chicken), essential fats, like avocado and olive oil, and some carbs from whole grains like rice. Brown, quinoa, and whole-grain pasta.

“I often see a bowl of leaves and this really isn’t going to energize or satisfy you,” says Sophie.

She adds that some pre-made salads may also have bacon added, which is a fatty meat.

Can’t turn down some crispy bacon? Keep your portions under control and avoid taking it all at once.

granola

A breakfast favorite, crunchy granola is packed with goodness. Dried fruits, oats, honey… what’s wrong?

The truth is, most granola is high in sugar. of binding ingredients (such as honey) as well as dried and sugary fruits.

The nuts used in the granola also contain a lot of fat and often a portion of the granola contains a large amount of nuts, which means a fair amount of fat.

It’s also worth noting that a portion of granola tends to be around 30 grams, which is much less than a portion you might pour yourself.

Check the ingredients list on the granola box; If one of the first ingredients is sugar, Sophie explains that means the majority of that product is made up of sugar.

The word “sugar” may not necessarily be very clear. Other types of sugar such as honey will likely be listed instead. Or even maple syrup.

However, don’t be fooled into thinking that maple syrup is a healthy alternative.

People often think that ingredients like coconut sugar or maple syrup are “healthy” sugar substitutes.

“But the truth is, sugar is sugar and things like honey and maple syrup are metabolized in the same way,” Sophie says.

Sophie suggests blending your own homemade oats and mixed nuts and enjoying them with some Greek yogurt for a nutritious breakfast that still delivers a delicious crunch!

It’s also worth remembering that granola contains very little or no protein.

Rob explains, “If you’re on a weight loss mission, studies have shown that protein at breakfast can help support healthy weight loss.

“To make your granola a little more protein-packed, try making it with protein powder, or eating a small portion with a hard-boiled egg.”

Soups

Soup is a staple during the winter months, providing a great way to keep warm, stay hydrated, and pack nutrients.

However, ready-made soups often have a lot of added salt, according to Sophie.

“If it contains more than 1.5 grams of salt per 100 grams, it is considered high in salt,” she says.

Check the label before buying and choose low-salt/low-sodium soups.

Not only does salt contribute to water retention (aka bloating), but research has found that high-sodium diets tend to be associated with weight gain.

Sophie explains that ready-made soups can sometimes lack protein, too.

“Try adding some beans or cheese and enjoy a side of nuts to help fill you up and keep you going all day,” Sophie says.

Or whip up chicken soup (great during cold and flu season!) for a protein-packed dinner.

Sophie says you can’t beat homemade soup: “Use leftover veggies and mix everything in a skillet with some canned tomatoes. It’s a super easy and great way to pack your veggies.”

Add some chicken for extra protein.

Want a creamy soup without the high calorie and fat content?

Mashed potatoes or even hummus can offer a creamy texture while also containing fiber and other nutrients.

porridge

A warm winter breakfast, homemade porridge with oats and skim milk is a delicious way to keep you full until lunch, however, there are now many pre-made porridges on the market.

These things are often filled with mischief that won’t do your waistline any good.

“Again, things like honey and maple syrup are pretty much the same as your average sugar,” says Sophie, who explains that they’re often added to pre-made pots of porridge.

Porridge is usually made with oats and water or milk, but ready-made porridge may contain additional sugar, so check the ingredient list.

“You can make your own nutritious porridge on the stove top with oats and milk or water and then add some fruit for some natural sweetness and antioxidants.”

Rob says that pre-made instant oatmeal packets can also be filled with salt and artificial colorings.

Make your own and save the extra sugar and extra calories.

fruit juice

A 150ml serving of unsweetened fruit juice, vegetable juice or juice counts towards your five servings a day, however, these only count as one portion, no matter how much you have.

Apart from this part, fruit juice may not be as beneficial as you think.

Rob explains that many fruit juices contain added sugars.

Plus, the sugars from the fruit are so condensed into one portion that it can spike your blood sugar and possibly lead to an energy crash soon after.

This crash in energy may prompt you to reach for more sugary foods to help kick your energy back up again.

“Try to enjoy a juice that is mostly vegetable-based as this may contain less sugar,” he says.

Another problem with fruit juices is that they lack the fiber found in whole fruits and vegetables.

We need this fiber for healthy digestion, plus it helps maintain a healthy weight.

Smoothies can be enjoyed as part of a balanced diet but what they lack is fibre.

“The fiber actually slows the release of the sugars,” says Sophie, who recommends choosing whole fruit where possible.

protein bars

A bar full of protein. Should be good, right? not nessacary.

Rob says protein bars are often filled with sugar and trans fats, which can negate any of the benefits this bar provides.

“While protein bars are convenient, it’s much better to get your protein from whole sources like lean meats, eggs, fish, and tofu, to name a few.

“In addition, protein bars often don’t contain that much protein, and other ingredients in these bars can cause digestive issues for many,” adds Rob.

If you’re on the move and can only get a packaged bar to tide you over until your next meal, check the ingredients and look for a bar with less than 2 grams of sugar.

Also, the shorter the ingredient list, the better.

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Need a protein bar that won’t disrupt your diet too much?

Give Healthspan Elite HiLo bars a try (£24.99 for 12) or Misfits Protein bars (£1.83 per bar).

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