What would a burger be without ketchup? A sandwich without mayo? Or a baked potato without sour cream? It’s hard to imagine eating many foods without their condiment counterparts. But using high-calorie condiments may actually be sabotaging your healthy eating efforts.
Condiments and Your Waistline
Condiments kick dishes up a notch by adding flavor. But if you’re not careful, you may end up getting more than you bargained for. Many popular condiments are loaded with calories, fat, sodium and added sugar.
What’s more, even if you use “light” versions of your favorite spreads and dressings, you may not be doing yourself any favors. That’s because experts say when we see “less sodium,” “low-fat” or other nutritional claims on labels, we assume the food is healthy, and end up using more of it. One tablespoon of reduced fat mayonnaise comes in at approximately 5g of fat and 50 calories. Compared to one tablespoon of regular mayonnaise, with 11g of fat and 100 calories, it is healthier. The problem is that most of us don’t limit ourselves to one tablespoon.
To keep condiments from sabotaging your diet efforts, the key is to make healthy choices and be mindful of portion sizes. Try these substitutions:
· Instead of using mayonnaise or sour cream for dips and spreads, opt for plain, low-fat Greek yogurt. The consistency is the same, but the Greek yogurt packs a protein punch, meaning your meal or snack will be more satisfying.
· Dip your crudités and chips in hummus rather than ranch dressing. It’s lower in fat and higher in protein and fiber.
· Make your own salad dressings instead of buying them. This way, you can control exactly what goes into them. Mix balsamic vinegar, olive oil, a dollop of mustard and a spritz of water together for a healthy, homemade vinaigrette. If you must have the store brand, keep in mind that vinaigrettes are typically healthier than cream-based dressings and sauces.
· Don’t double up. Do you like to dip your buffalo wings in bleu cheese dressing? Chances are the chicken wings are heavily coated with buffalo sauce. Either skip the dip or only garnish the wings with buffalo sauce. Choosing one or the other will help you cut calories.
Get Condiment Savvy
These condiments are almost always fat-free and generally low in calories. Just watch the sodium and sugar content:
· Ketchup: This picnic staple is made using puréed, cooked tomatoes, spices and seasonings. Look for low-sodium and low-sugar versions.
· Barbeque sauce: BBQ sauce is made from combining ketchup, vinegar and Worcestershire sauce. Steer clear of “brown sugar” or “honey” varieties to keep sugar in check.
· Mustard: Yellow mustard just contains mustard seeds, vinegar and seasonings. On the other hand, honey mustard is usually packed with sugar and fat.
· Salsa: Salsa is made using fresh veggies, fruit, herbs and/ or spices. It’s one of the lowest calorie condiments out there, coming it at just 5 calories per tablespoon. Use it as a dip, on a baked potato or as a marinade for fish or chicken.
· Soy sauce: Soy sauce is made from fermented soy beans, roasted grains, water and a lot of salt. Choose low-sodium soy sauce and use it sparingly.
What’s your favorite condiment? I put hot sauce on everything!