By Emily Shiffer

 

If you’re like millions of Americans at the beginning of this year, you’ve likely made a resolution to lose weight. To make resolutions stick, it’s all about implementing realistic changes. And making tweaks to your nutrition is a vital step.

 

But some foods you assume are healthy may actually be hindering your weight loss goals. We asked three dietitians for their recommendations of foods you should avoid if you’re trying to lose weight, and what you should eat instead.

 

 

 


1. Multi-grain bread

Why You Should Avoid It:
“Multi-grain bread can be a great source of fiber and other nutrients, but it can also be high in sodium and calories depending on the brand and portion size,” says Amber Pankonin MS, RD, LMNT, registered dietitian and owner of Stirlist. “Commercial artisan varieties can contain 125- 150 calories per slice.”

 

What You Should Eat Instead:
“Look for options like Sara Lee Delightful Multi-grain bread that contain 90 calories and 5 grams of fiber for two slices,” says Pankonin.

 

 

 

 

2. Cereal

Why You Should Avoid It:
“Breakfast cereals are often high in added sugar and devoid of fiber – the nutrient that fills you up and keeps you full,” says Charlotte Martin, MS, RDN, CSOWM, CPT, registered dietitian nutritionist and founder of Shaped by Charlotte. “They’ll give you a quick burst of energy followed by a sugar crash that’ll leave you hungry again soon after.”

 

What You Should Eat Instead:
“Oats make for an excellent fiber-rich breakfast that can easily be ‘dressed up’. But try to avoid instant oats,” says Martin. “Instead, opt for plain old-fashioned or quick-cooking oats and turn them into overnight oats: equal parts oats + Greek yogurt + almond milk with cinnamon, vanilla, and fruit!”

 

 

 

3. Sugary Beverages

Why You Should Avoid It:
“Regular sugary beverage consumption can hinder weight loss,” says Jonathan Valdez, owner of Genki Nutrition and spokesperson for New York State Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. “Sugary beverages contain empty calories and high added-sugar which promotes lower satiety and overall increased energy intake from meals complimenting them.”

 

What You Should Eat Instead:
“Drinking water instead of sugary beverages is lower in calories while still providing hydration. In addition, drinking water doesn’t have to be boring,” says Valdez. “Infusing water with different fruits and herbs such as lemon, mint, and cucumber gives a twist in taste and added antioxidants to assist with overall health besides assisting with weight loss, especially if you eat the fruit or vegetable afterward.”

 

 

 

4. Dried fruits

Why You Should Avoid It:
“Dried fruits can be a convenient and condensed source of nutrition, but a small amount can add up very quickly when it comes to calories. In fact, ¼ cup of raisins is about 120 calories,” says Pankonin.

 

What You Should Eat Instead:
“Fresh fruit sources like grapes or blueberries would be better as they contain more hydration and volume, which can be more filling and satisfying when it comes to weight loss,” says Pankonin.

 

 

 

5. Pre-Packaged Oatmeal Packets

Why You Should Avoid It:
“Overall, oats are an amazing product that is a gluten-free alternative to cold cereals. Oats also contain vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants. Some of these nutrients are manganese, phosphorus, magnesium, copper, iron, zinc, folate, Vitamin B1, and vitamin B5,” says Valdez. “However, we run into some trouble with pre-packaged oatmeal packets that can contain high amounts of added sugars contributing to higher caloric intake, which can curb weight loss goals.”

 

What You Should Eat Instead:
“Old fashioned oatmeal is a great opportunity to build what you want, while not compromising taste or health,” says Valdez. “Add low-carb options like cinnamon, dried apples, and walnuts or pecans to heighten the flavor experience with sweetness and crunch, but not with added sugar. Also, it’s a great opportunity to add milk versus water to increase protein, calcium, and Vitamin-D intake.”

 

 

 

6. Wraps

Why You Should Avoid It:
“People often think wraps make for a healthier option than
sandwiches. But in reality, a wrap/tortilla can have as many, if not more, calories and carbohydrates as two slices of bread,” says Martin. “Plus, they’re often low in filling fiber. The red and green-colored ‘veggie’ wraps are especially deceiving because you’re led to think they’re made with lots of veggies. Spoiler alert: they’re not.”

 

What You Should Eat Instead:
“If you’re dining out and given the option for a lettuce wrapped sandwich or burger, go for that! If not, choose whole grain bread, or ask for it open-faced (i.e. just one slice of bread instead of two),” says Martin. “If you’re making a wrap yourself, look for whole-grain tortillas that are under 200 calories and have at least a few grams fiber, like Food For Life’s Sprouted Whole Grain Tortillas.”

 


 

 

7. Condiments

Why You Should Avoid It:
“Not all condiments are created equal, but some can be a big source of added sugar in the diet. BBQ sauce and ketchup are two culprits – two tablespoons of BBQ sauce can have 14 grams of sugar!” says Martin. “And you’re likely not sticking with just two tablespoons in a meal.”

 

What You Should Eat Instead:
“Instead, flavor your meals with condiments like Dijon mustard, salsa, and hot sauce, which have little to no sugar and are low in calories,” says Martin.

 

 

 

8. Bagels

Why You Should Avoid It:
“Bagels are one of the most beloved comfort foods, but some can set you back upwards of 300 calories, and that’s not including what you put inside it,” says Martin. “They also tend to be heavy in refined carbs and lack fiber.”

 

What You Should Eat Instead:
“A slice of sprouted bread with a thin layer of cream cheese, some sliced avocado, and an egg is a great protein and fiber rich alternative,” says Martin. “But if you’re really craving a bagel, go for a whole grain bagel which will have more.”

 

 

 

9. White Bread

Why You Should Avoid It:
“White breads are typically lower in fiber, protein, and other nutrients, and overall not as healthful and is lower in satiety,” says Valdez. “Although it may look lower in calories, due to lower satiety, it may lead to eating more food overall, therefore calories. More caloric intake hinders weight loss.”

 

What You Should Eat Instead:
“Whole wheat bread may lower your risk of colorectal cancer, obesity, heart disease, and diabetes. In general, whole wheat bread is also higher in fiber, protein and some micronutrients like manganese and selenium,” says Valdez. “Overall satiety would be achieved using whole wheat bread, which will help with weight loss while being overall more healthful. There are so many brands, so make sure you look at the food label to choose the best option for you.”

 

 

 

10. Nut Butters

Why You Should Avoid It:
“Nut butters can be a good source of plant protein and can be very filling,” says Pankonin. “However, they are often high in calories and it’s easy to consume more than the recommended portion size, which can stall weight loss.”

 

What You Should Eat Instead:
“If you’re really craving nut butter, eat nuts that come in the shell like peanuts or pistachios,” says Pankonin. “This will help you to evaluate your portion size, force you to slow down a bit since you’ll have to work at shelling and it will still be a good source of nutrients.”

 

 

 

11. Packaged Chips

Why You Should Avoid It:
“Typically packaged chips can contain higher calories, carbohydrates, sodium, and fat while being low in overall nutrients and fiber,” says Valdez. “So, it can be addicting while offering no satiety to stop you from eating an over-abundance of this item. And if you’re trying to lose weight, this can be a problem.”

 

What You Should Eat Instead:
“Consider making your own chips at home that are shelf-stable and healthy,” says Valdez. “You may air-fry or bake vegetables such as beets, golden beets, sweet potatoes, squash, kale, zucchini, summer squash, taro, rutabaga, white potatoes while using less oil and sodium (better to use potassium chloride for flavoring if you’re watching your sodium intake that tastes like salt, but it’s potassium.)”

 

 

 

12. Hummus

Why You Should Avoid It:
"I see a lot of folks using hummus on sandwiches and wraps instead of mayonnaise or using as a dip instead of cream-based dips,” says Pankonin. “Even though hummus adds flavor and contains more fiber than mayonnaise, it can still be high in calories and it’s very easy to over consume or overestimate portion size especially when used as a dip.

 

What You Should Eat Instead:
"If you’re looking for additional flavor on your sandwich or something to eat with your fresh veggies, try making a vegetable puree using roasted red peppers and carrots,” says Pankonin.

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