Foodies abound these days; gourmet recipes, cooking shows by the dozen and easily accessible cutting-edge restaurants mean we’re a nation of food lovers and self-styled connoisseurs. With events like potluck get togethers, leisurely dinner parties and al fresco food truck festivals, we often build our socialising around good food. However, nowadays we’re also constantly reminded of the dangers of our diet, with new ‘bad for you’ ingredients added to an exponentially growing list every year and scare stories about even the most innocuous of drinks or every day meals threatening us from the pages of every healthy lifestyle magazine. Likely none of us need be reminded that obesity is becoming an epidemic in America, Europe and elsewhere but just in case we did, ‘fitspo’ blogs and memes appear unsolicited on our social networking newsfeeds daily, admonishing us that ‘nothing tastes as good as skinny feels’ and ‘you’ve got to work for it’.
How then, to find a happy medium in the extremes of indulgence and deprivation? National campaigns tell us to eat natural, eat moderately, fit exercise into your daily routine. All pretty sound advice; but when we hear that even the most innocent foods are packed with additives, and hidden calories are everywhere, is there really any way to avoid compulsively checking labels and falling victim to the fitspiration craze? Perhaps, in an age of processed foods and health fads, we just need to educate ourselves a little better.
We take a closer look at foods we may not realise are packed full of calories, according to a trusty calorie-counting smart phone app. These foods are typically slated as a ‘healthy alternative’, with many have more calories in one portion than a fast food hamburger. Of course, that doesn’t necessarily make them less healthy – some may be less processed, contain more ‘good’ fats and have a slow-release energy factor that keeps you fuller for longer. So while it may be advisable to limit your intake of the following foods if you’re watching your weight, it’s not advisable to replace any of them with a hamburger!
5. Oils and Nuts
Fried food fiends from around the world can tell you that there is nothing like the smell of oil warming up for some good deep fat frying. French fries, doughnuts, fried chicken and deep fried pickles all make all our mouths water, but are especially potent for those who get a thrill out of eating fried foods. In Texas, the State Fair is notorious for its fried treats (Don’t try the deep fried bumble gum!). Of course, it’s not so shocking that oil is chock full of calories. However, all oils have the large calorie count condition – even olive oil has over 1900 calories in a cup. Safflower, Sunflower and Soybean oils all have over 1900 calories per cup as well. Nuts tie in with oil on our list; many of us have grabbed a handful of peanuts, pecans or almonds in the late afternoon to make it until dinner, thinking we’re showing admirable self-restraint in avoiding the cookie. Let’s hope your handfull was small, because nuts are shockingly high in calories. A cup of Peanuts has 840 calories. Pecans have 720 per cup while almonds have 795 per cup.
For something that’s a byproduct of hive making, this is a delicious treat. For calorie counting individuals, however, honey is the perfect substitute for sugar in many baked treats as well as a great way to sweeten tea. Hold the buzzing bees, though. Honey has a shocking 1030 calories in a cup while sugar has just 770 calories in a cup. Yes, we realize that honey has other side health benefits (as do most of the items on our list), but we are shocked at the higher calorie count in this sugar substitute. No wonder bees are always dancing and having a grand old time – they’re burning those honey calories!
Smoothies are a trendy and popular treat, originating in the 1930s in Brazil. However, they’ve only been really popular since the 1960s (perhaps when the earth-loving hippies of the world decided to go vegan). The early smoothie recipes have fruit juice, fruit and ice. Since they’ve become popular, there have been additions of milk, peanut butter, yogurt and even ice cream. Although in the grander picture of high calorie foods smoothies are a pretty tame and safe choice, there are still some which are extraordinarily high in calories. One retail chain sells a strawberry smoothie with 940 calories. The average strawberry smoothie has between 300 and 400 calories per 16 ounces. Sure, it can serve as a meal replacement, but people getting smoothies as a snack, instead of a candy bar, need to know that from a purely calorific perspective, they are better off eating that snickers than they are drinking the smoothie.
How many times have you been in this situation? At a bar, drinking after work with some friends, when someone brings up the latest diet craze. One person in your crowd might joke, “I never have to watch my calories, because I eat so little. I save it all for drinking.” Did you know, however, that if each person in your posse of 20 buddies finishes those 20 margaritas, they would have consumed a combined total of 10,800 calories? Cocktails are shockingly high in calories. Here is just a sample: Black Russian, 1300; Daiquiri, 960; Manhattan, 960,; Pina Colada, 924 and Whiskey Sour, 750. Who knew the drinking after work would be so costly in calories? It makes one want to skip that night out at the bar and just stay home and order a pizza!
1. Restaurant Salads
Yes, salads. You might think you’re being restrained and virtuous when everyone else at lunch orders burger and fries and you get the salad. No one bothers telling you that some restaurant salads are far worse than even the humble burger. The worst of the worse is the Santa Fe Salad at TGI Fridays. When this salad was on its menu, it was at 1830 calories. The Cheesecake Factory still has its Santa Fe Salad on its menu and it packs 1720 calories with calorie-heavy avocado and corn and an indulgent dressing. On the Border has a Grande Salad with Taco meat coming in at 1320 calories while California Pizza Chicken has the Waldorf Chicken Salad for 1560 calories. In fact, California Pizza Chicken has several salads that fall above 1000 calories so it might be better to ditch the healthy idea and just get the pizza. This goes for all of the restaurants. Is it really worth wasting all those calories on a salad? We give you permission to go ahead and order that double burger with fries at your next business lunch. From a calorie perspective, you may be better off anyway.