Some people will never believe it when you tell them that you actually like health food. Maybe they have a point.
On the one hand, you’re totally at ‘enlightened’ level for appreciating the crunch, subtle flavor, and wild kick of nuts, fruits, and healthy dips.
On the other hand, many of the health foods that we pride ourselves on building our diet around are made far more palatable by the sneaky inclusion of less healthy ingredients such as secret sugars which load you up with more calories than you’d think.
Don’t let that put you off. Your instincts are good! What it does mean, though, is that it’s time to smarten up your healthy lifestyle. You can do so by minimizing those dodgy ingredients and taking a proactive approach to burning off that excess intake, calorie by calorie. You can begin by checking out this new infographic that compares surprisingly calorie-laden foods with the everyday activities needed to burn off those extra ounces.
Rice cakes, for example, seem heaven-sent to the humble dieter. How could something so light and bland be a sin? Unfortunately, that blandness is part of the problem.
Healthy-eaters swear by rice cakes as a low-calorie treat because they taste so delicious with jam, or cheese, or even avocado on top. The rice cake by itself won’t do you much harm – although it won’t do you much good either, since they have very little nutritional value. But the extra toppings will do the damage.
The trick is to become an expert topping preparer. Something simple like a natural nut butter will do the job, or a sliced egg. But learning to season them irresistibly with the right spices will save you drifting back to the dark side (Nutella be gone!)
And you could also try switching up the rice cakes for lavash bread. This unleavened bread carries less calories, more texture, and an exotic air that will probably spell the end of rice cakes in your kitchen.
Or you could turn the whole thing on its head and use sliced fruit such as apples or pears as your ‘topping vehicle’ rather than rice cakes or bread. Fruit has the advantage of more nutrition and more sweetness, which means it combines better with a plainer (or smaller portioned), less sinful topping.
Almond butter might be such a topping, though it’s worth pointing out that it can be another stealthy diet-derailer. Quite aside from the fact that it’s impossible to stop eating it once you’ve opened the jar, those healthy fats that almond butter boasts have a dark side: their calorie count.
A 30g serving means nearly 200 calories. To burn that off, you’d need spend half an hour or more powering around the supermarket; 10-15 minutes going back and forth up the stairs with your grocery bags; and the same again lifting your groceries up into your kitchen cupboards.
But heck, you gotta do that anyway, haven’t you? So you may as well put a little more oomph into it and call it ‘exercise’!
Looking for a less exertive cheat? Well, how’s your hummus game?
Hummus is delicious. Everyone loves hummus. But it’s not as healthy as it sounds. The problem is mostly in the type and amount of oil that is used to make that irresistible dip. (We’re assuming here that you’re using carrot sticks to eat it, not chips or a soup-spoon).
The answer is simple: make your own. It’s easy. It’s fun. It’s a great thing to do and talk about when friends turn up early for a dinner party.
And you get to pick the ingredients, so you know exactly what’s going into that hummus – and into your body.