Nutrition Tip of the Week

Author: Heather K. Mackie, MS, RD, LD

Week of February 4, 2013

Even Healthy Foods Can Lead to Weight Gain

Everyone has heard the saying there can be too much of a good thing.  This can even be true with foods.  Some people think this is a “healthy” food so I can eat as much as I want or I can eat it frequently, but it is important to truly evaluate the quality, quantity, and nutritional parameters of your food.

All you have to do is think back to the 1990’s fat-free/low-fat craze.  Everyone thought low-fat diets were the cure to weight loss, but eating a whole box of Snackwell’s low-fat cookies did not lead to weight loss.  Nor did that bag of fat-free potato chips.  Remember, foods are made up of 3 main components: carbohydrates (including sugar), fat, and protein.  There are 3 main ingredients that give food great taste and/or texture: sugar, salt/sodium, and fat.  Anytime, one of these 3 components or ingredients is removed from a food or lowered, oftentimes one of the other 3 is increased.  Here is an example:

Serving Size: 1 cup Plain Yogurt Low-Fat Plain Yogurt Fat-Free Plain Yogurt
Calories 149 154 137
Fat (g) 8 3.8 0.4
Sodium (mg) 113 172 189
Carbohydrates (g) 11.4 17.2 18.8
Sugar (g) 11.4 17.2 18.8
Protein (g) 8.5 12.9 14

* Data is average of common brands

The point of this chart is not to say one version is necessarily better for you than another, but to point out you have to look at the full label on the product, not the front that makes big, bold lettering of low-fat, light, fat-free, etc.  In the yogurt scenario, when they removed some of the fat, they added quite a bit more sugar and sodium.  Going from low-fat to fat-free added more sodium and a little more sugar.  You have to consider your goals for health and your personal medical history (high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, etc.) and then determine which one fits your needs the best.

Some individuals might think sweet potato fries are so much better for them.  While they do provide more nutrients than regular fries, including vitamin A and fiber, they are still a French fry.  One serving from TGI Fridays provides 390 calories, 20 g fat, 230 mg sodium, 50 g carbohydrates, 6 g fiber, and 3 g protein.  This is supposed to be the side dish, not the whole meal!

Another example is when someone has eaten carrots while studying.  They think this is a healthy food; I can snack on as much of this as I want so I do not eat other unhealthy foods.  While carrots do not contain the fat-soluble form of vitamin A, which can be toxic, they do contain beta-carotene.  Beta-carotene has not been shown to lead to birth defects as too much preformed vitamin A might do.  Diets high in carotenoid-rich foods, such as carrots, have not been shown to be toxic.  However, an individual may develop the harmless effect of carotenodermia with long-term excess beta-carotene intake.  This is where the skin becomes a yellow-orange color.  The condition is reversible upon discontinuing beta-carotene overconsumption.  While this example is extremely rare and still possibly safe it shows why it is important to eat a healthy, balanced meal plan.

Please know yogurt, sweet potatoes, carrots and all other foods can be consumed post-weight loss surgery (as tolerated), but you still have to do your homework and read the label and consume the product most appropriate for you in the correct portion size in order to CELEBRATE your success!

Tags: , , ,

Comments are closed.