We all know the popular daylight savings time expression Spring Forward, Fall Back but that’s rarely how it plays out on the scale when it comes to our weight.
With the fall season in full swing the days are as short and cold as they’ve been for some time.
This usually means that energy expenditure and activity levels of many of my clients drop, which leaves more time at home for snacking.
The increase in consumption and decrease in activity often end up being a double whammy.
I know there are many Canadians out there who are genuinely concerned about keeping their weight in check over the next six months, which is exactly why I’ve written today’s article.
Your best defense in staying at a healthy weight over the next two seasons ( & beyond) is understanding which foods, and in which amounts, may be contributing the most calories to your diet.
These foods will differ from person-to-person, but I’ve come up with a list of 9 culprits that is based on Health & Stats Canada data that I believe will be both helpful and insightful for the majority of people reading today’s article.
The 9 Foods To Cut Back On This Fall
“Stadium” Food – Pizza, hot dogs and hamburgers are all calorie dense meals that are not particularly good for you. If you are consuming any of these as meals with regularity (more than once a week), they may be hindering your weight management goals. One exception to this rule might be if you are making healthier home-made versions of these foods.
Baked Goods – Baked goods generally include all cake, pastries, cookies, muffins and donuts. Of these foods, I find that cookies and muffins tend to be the biggest culprits in my clients. People will often grab a muffin with their coffee or have a few cookies in the office or when they get home from work. Do these sound like your habits? Don’t worry, you aren’t alone, but you need to know that regularly consuming these foods is not in your best interest and you’d be better off grabbing a piece of fruit or handful of nuts or seeds instead.
Salad Dressing – You can’t go wrong with salad, but you CAN go wrong with salad dressing. You need to be very mindful of both the type of dressing you use and the amount of it that you apply to your salad. As a general rule, aim for no more than 1 tbsp of dressing, regardless of the variety you happen to choose and try to stick to lower calorie or homemade options when possible. A simple tbsp of olive oil & vinegar with lemon juice makes a great selection.
“Junk” Food- When it comes to junk foods, everyone likes to point the finger at sugar, but it’s chocolate and chips which are the biggest culprits, and these foods have far more calories from fat than they do sugar. My recommendations? Swap out chips for plain popcorn and swap out milk chocolate or chocolate bars for a single square of dark chocolate, but only when you feel you need it.
Your Favourite Beverages – Pop and beer are two MAJOR culprits when it comes to items that people consume regularly that are sabotaging their weight management goals. Ask yourself how many bottles of beer or cans of pop you are having on a weekly basis, and aim to halve that number this Fall to help keep you on track.
Butter & Margarine: People love to debate whether butter or margarine is the better choice. Although I am on the side of margarine, my take on this issue is that you should be using so little of either of these items that it should not even matter which one you choose. If you lather your toast or potatoes with either butter or margarine, you will be significantly increasing the caloric intake in your diet for very little in return.
Oils: Yes, using healthy oils such as olive or canola oil to prepare or dress your food is a good idea. But, the amount you use is also critically important. You should not be using more than 2-3 tbsp a day and if you are someone who applies oil liberally during food preparation (without measuring, straight out of the bottle) you could easily be using more than this in one sitting.
Added Sugars/Syrups: One of the biggest misconceptions I encounter is the notion that sweeteners like honey and maple syrup are somehow healthy or significantly healthier than plain old sugar. Unfortunately, all of the above are more or less just calories in the absence of micronutrients and their use should be minimized.
Ice Cream: Everyone’s favourite dessert also happens to be a significant source of excess calories in many people’s diets. If you are a regular consumer of ice cream, I’d recommend switching to a sweetened 2% greek yogurt OR making your own nice cream instead.
I am willing to bet that many of you who are reading this today resonate with the foods that I’ve identified on this list.
It is important to understand that the first step in getting your diet and weight under control is to understand the culprits which may be causing you problems, and my hope is that today’s article has got you on the path towards doing just that.
Andy is a Toronto-based registered dietitian and nutrition writer who holds a master’s degree in public health nutrition. You can learn more about Andy and his services at AndyTheRD.com.