Cereals, smoothies, and salads sound nutritious but they may not be.
1. GRANOLA BARS
These make great snacks, but are loaded with sugar and fat. “Eating one bar, which contains250 calories, means taking in 5g of fat and 10g of sugar? That’s like eating a bowl of fried rice topped with two teaspoons of sugar,” says Jaclyn. These “healthy” snacks can contribute up to 300 calories to your daily intake. She advises: “Check the label and choose those that are less than 150 calories. And have no more than one granola bar a week.”
A bowl of cereal is a great way to kick-start your day – it helps to stabilise your blood sugar levels and prevents you from snacking unnecessarily. The glucose also fuels your brain and keeps you alert. But this is only if you eat the highfibre, low-sugar kind – two cups contain more than 10g of fibre and less than 10g of sugar. What you should avoid: “Chocolatey or honeycoated cereals have hidden sugars – up to 10g per serving. It also will not keep you full for long – maybe two hours at the most – and you’ll possibly end up eating a snack before lunch,” says Jaclyn.
3. FRUIT JUICE
A glass of any type of fruit juice contains up to 100 calories and very little fibre. It’s better to eat a whole fruit, which contains half the calories of a cup of juice and wastes no fibre. Jaclyn adds: “It takes about three oranges to make a glass of orange juice. If you ate three whole oranges, you would be a lot fuller.”
4. FISH BALLS
Only about 10 per cent of the entire fish ball is made of fish. The rest consists of flour and preservatives. One fish ball is about 25 calories, so while five would only add up to 125 calories, they have very little nutritional value.
5. AVOCADO MILKSHAKE
The drink is extremely high in calories – a whopping 700! While avocados may contain good fat, they have a slightly bitter aftertaste, so sugar and even chocolate syrup is added to the condensed or evaporated milk to make the milkshake. All those extras negate the nutritional value of the avocados. “This beverage can contain up to 12 teaspoons of fat and seven teaspoons of sugar. You will gain weight if you drink this often,” cautions Jaclyn.
6. YONG TAU FOO
This is a healthy choice that you can eat every day – only if the pieces you choose aren’t fried. One bowl of non-fried yong tau foo is an acceptable 400 calories. “But one fried item alone can provide 50 calories, a big difference compared to a boiled or raw item, which only has 10 calories,” says Jaclyn. The extra 40 calories come mainly from the fat in the cooking oil used to fry the items. Choose too many fried beancurd-skin pieces, or fried chicken wrapped in seaweed morsels, and your supposedly healthy meal backfires.
7. CHICKEN, TUNA OR SHRIMP SALAD
Don’t assume that every salad is healthy. A generous dollop of mayonnaise or Thousand Island dressing can add 200 calories to the salad. It’s better to prepare your own so you can control the ingredients used. If you buy pre-packed salads, get those with no dressing, low-fat dressing, or dressing on the side (and use it sparingly), says Jaclyn. Balance the carbohydrates, proteins and fibre in your salad, too. “If you increase the chicken or other meat content, you’re increasing your protein and calorie intake. So even if you omit the dressing, the extra meat may bump up the salad by 150 calories,” adds Jaclyn.
Most smoothies start out healthy. Made from blended fruit and low-fat milk, they help boost your calcium and protein intake. But disproportionately large serving sizes (some more than two cups’ worth), combined with added sugar and ice cream, make this a high-calorie drink. Jaclyn says a low-fat banana smoothie only has 200 calories, but if you use whole milk, the calories can hit 500. “Ice cream and full-fat yogurt increase the sugar and fat content, too. A scoop of ice cream has 140 calories, 9g of fat and 14g of sugar.”
9. SPORTS DRINKS
Great for athletes, these are loaded with electrolytes like potassium and sodium to replace fluids lost through intense perspiration, and some have caffeine to energise your workouts. But you should only drink them when doing sports. “A 500ml sports drink contains 150 calories. By drinking it when you’re not exercising, you’re increasing your calorie intake unnecessarily,” says Jaclyn. Drink water instead.
photo credit: ingimages, recipes100