These wheat-free products may be hot, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re better for you. Since gluten adds texture and taste to many foods, manufacturers often have to replace it with sugar, fat, and starch, which often pack more calories than the original gluten version would. If you want to limit your intake, you’re better off choosing naturally gluten-free whole foods like buckwheat, veggies, and sweat potatoes.
According to nutrition therapist and registered dietitian Limor Baum
For those cutting carbs, these flat offenders seem like the perfect sandwich solution — but not so fast. Not only do most wraps contain over 300 calories before adding the fillings (you could have three slices of bread for less than that!), but they’re large — most restaurants service 12” ones — making it easier to stuff them with more ingredients than you would put in a classic sandwich.
It is easy to remove the top slice of bread and eat a sandwich open-faced, but who rips off part of a wrap? “Even spinach, tomato, and whole-wheat wraps rarely contain any whole grains or vegetables, though they do contain fat.
According to registered dietitian Amy Shapiro
Trail Mix and Granola
Though once considered a healthy snack, most granolas and trail mixes are now made with a long list of diet foes, such as added sugars, trans fats, and partially-hydrogenated oils. Plus, unlike cereal, for which the serving size is usually 1 cup, you’re only supposed to eat about one-quarter cup granola, says registered dietician Laura Cipullo. “Most people eat up to three times as much as that in one sitting,” she explains. “But since most trail mixes and granolas are made with high-calorie ingredients like maple syrup, honey, nuts, and dried fruits, that can add up to 100 calories.” Use a small palm-full as a guide to make sure you don’t overdo it.
Though bran is a high-fiber and nutrient-rich carbohydrate, the amount in most bran muffins — a mere 10 percent according to Shapiro — doesn’t make up for its overall cake-like ingredient list of white flour, oil, butter, eggs, milk, and sugar. And many muffins don’t even contain the bran or pumpernickel they promise, using food coloring instead. “Muffins, bran or not, have 300 to 500 each, so you’re better off just choosing the kind you like rather than opting for a ‘healthier’ option that won’t satisfy you,” says Cipullo. “If a more whole-grain breakfast if what you’re after, try a sprouted-grain English muffin, which only has about 160 calories and six grams of fat, plus eight grams of filling protein,” suggests Karen Ansel MS, RDN, the co-author of The Calendar Diet: A Month by Month Guide to Losing Weight While Living Your Life.
Caesars tend to do more harm than good. “An entrée-size salad with shaved cheese and Caesar dressing (made mostly from cheese, eggs, oil, and salty anchovies) contains almost half of your daily fat needs and makes up a third of your daily calorie intake,” says Baum. And most are made with romaine, one of the least nutritious greens there is. If a Caesar salad seems like the best menu option available, or you’re seriously craving one, ask for the dressing on the side, drizzle on just two tablespoons, and add grilled chicken or shrimp to better balance out your meal.
Fat-Free Salad Dressings
“When asked about fat-free dressings, I always tell my clients that it is better to use the real thing, just less of it,” says Shapiro, who suggest aiming for about one to two tablespoons. “Research shows that when you eat fat-free foods, you also eat bigger portions. And when removing fat, manufacturers add extra sugar in order to preserve the taste,” Shapiro adds. Furthermore, “your body needs fat in order to absorb many of the fat-soluble nutrients in salad, such as lycopene from tomatoes, beta carotene from carrots, and vitamin K in leafy greens,” explains Ansel. Full fat dressing will help you feel fuller for longer, as well as help maximize the nutrition from your salad bowl. Cipullo notes that the best dressings are made from olive oil or GMO-free canola oil, which will help your heart as sources of monosaturated fats.
Don’t fall for their colorful and vegetable-like appearance — veggie chips really aren’t much better for you than regular old potato chips. That’s because most are are coated in oil and salt, and stripped of the majority of their nutritional value throughout the cooking process, says Baum. “One serving of veggie chips is almost nutritionally equivalent to potato chips — you get the same amount of calories and sodium with maybe only one or two fewer grams of fat,” warns Shapiro. So if you want veggies, eat the real thing, and if it’s chips you’re after, just have a small serving of them.
Energy bars may seem like the answer to that dreaded 4 p.m. hunger-induced weariness, but it’s worth your while to be selective. “Energy bars provide energy through calories just like any other food,” says Cipullo. “They don’t necessarily give you a different or better energy boost than a balanced meal would.” But since they are convenient on the go, be sure to check the ingredients list and avoid bars with lots of added sugars or fiber, or a double serving size in a single bar. Cipullo suggests Kind bars, Lara bars, Rise Breakfast bars, and Organic Food bars as great, nutrient-dense options.
All snacks exist on a spectrum, and though yogurt-covered pretzels are better than, say, French fries, these nibbles should be treated with caution. Yogurt and yogurt coating are two very different foods — whereas traditional yogurt is full of calcium, yogurt coating consists of saturated fat, cane syrup, partially-hydrogenated palm oil, milk powder and preservatives, says Cipullo. To avoid consuming a ton of white flour and sugar, Shapiro suggests making your own version of the treat by dipping whole-wheat pretzels in Greek yogurt.