Traveling home I was reacquainted with the way my family does mornings. You don’t realize how much you identify with your morning routine until you’re dropped in the middle of someone else’s. My parents use a ton of cream and sugar in their coffee, so they aren’t worried about the quality of the actual coffee. We are, but it’s not just because we’re snobs. Did you know, added to your diet, two tablespoons of cream and two teaspoons of sugar in your morning coffee can slowly pack on around eight pounds to your body over the course of a year? It’s that kind of gradual calorie intake that makes you look back and say, “wait, where did that come from?” Likewise, trimming it from your diet can make an unexpectedly wonderful result. If your resolution was to drop a size, or you’re just concerned about the couple you put on over the holidays, here are some little tips on where those calories are hiding in your diet so you can kiss them goodbye.
1. Fancy coffee. This one is pretty easy. Sure, you already know Frappuccinos are kind of ridiculous as an every-morning routine. A grande caramel Frappuccino with whipped cream tips the scales at 480 calories. That’s no way to start your day. But even a 12-ounce vanilla latte has 240. That’s basically another bowl of cereal. Two breakfasts. A nonfat latte is still 90 calories, if you use Splenda. Sorry, this wasn’t intended to be a dig at Starbucks. It’s just sort of a standard of comparison. Either way, a cup of coffee, black, is around 3-5 calories. It’s negligible. And if you can kick the big frothy sweet drinks in the morning, you stand to trim not just your waistline, but also your budget. Those lattes can really add up.
2. Smoothies. Full of fruit and sometimes a bit of yogurt? Ever watch them shovel a measuring cup full of sugar in with the ice before adding the fruit? There’s no firm rule on smoothies, but knowing where you’re getting them makes a huge difference. Getting a smoothie from a juice bar is probably a better bet than from a chain. Don’t hesitate to ask the people behind the counter what’s in them, and remember: A smoothie is a meal. At around 450+ calories for just about any smoothie out there, that’s the same ballpark meal size as a sub from Jimmy John’s.
3. Soda. You know I’m not a fan, but I always say, if you’re a big soda drinker, you have an exciting future. That future is that when you cut out soda altogether, prepare to lose weight without moving a muscle. If you’re on a consistent track of a 20-ounce soda every day, cutting them out will result in a very healthy weight loss of 24 pounds over the course of a year. More soda in your diet right now? More loss if you quit. It’s kind of weird if you think about it too long, but it’s awesome.
4. Dressings and sauces. Creamy stuff is packed with calories, as a general rule. So while alfredo sauce tastes as indulgent as it is and will likely clue you into its calorie content intuitively, things like Caesar dressing and cheese sprinkled on your salad can sneak scary amounts of calories into your otherwise nutritious salad. Granted, fat-soluble vitamins in veggies are understood by your system more easily with a little oil on your salad, but there’s no need for all the creamy add-ons, at least if we’re eating salads for the same reason.
5. Bottled fruit juice. Fruit juice from a carton is terrifying all on its own (check out No. 5), but its “healthy” appeal is busted when you turn it around and read the nutrition facts. Orange juice from concentrate is around 112 calories per 8-ounce serving. We don’t usually drink out of 8-ounce glasses. Do you? That glass of fruit juice might as well be soda for the amount of calories and sugar in it. If you’re at the store and you’re grabbing a drink that isn’t water, shoot for tea. Even if it’s sweetened chances are it’s better for you than sugary fruit juices, and the extra little (and I mean little) kick of caffeine will lift you up without making you crash later.
Without being a broken record about resolutions and such, why not start out 2012 by kicking these energy-sucking, calorie-piling evil-doers and resolve to feel better this year? You don’t have to crash diet or cut out carbs or wake up at 5 a.m. for a boot camp (you can if you want), you can just eliminate unnecessary, well, crap from your diet and enjoy the benefits of higher energy, clearer skin, healthier hair and nails, and a slimmer you. Twnety-twelve’s looking good.
Do you battle with any of these? Are there any other sneaky foods you’ve apprehended and vanquished?