Caution With Condiments While Trying to Lose Weight

Condiments and spoons
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Wondering why you’re gaining weight (or not losing) when you’re so careful about what you eat? You pay close attention to portions, serving yourself the right amount of cereal in the morning, eyeballing your grilled chicken at lunch, and eating only half your entrée at the restaurant, and yet still, you’re not making much progress on the scale.

Give yourself a condiment check! Are you using loads of mayonnaise on your sandwich, pouring a bunch of milk and sugar in your coffee, drowning your salad in dressing and loading your carrots with guacamole? You’d be surprised by how quickly these things add up, even when you’re talking about healthier picks, like guac.

Take a look below at some of the more caloric condiments (calories are listed per level tablespoon) to get an idea of where you might be overdoing it. And note that in some cases, you’d use more than a tablespoon, so you’d have to multiply the number below by the number of servings you typically use to get a more accurate tally.

  • Butter – 100 calories
  • Cream cheese – 50 calories
  • Duck sauce – 40 calories
  • Guacamole – 25 calories
  • Half & Half – 20 calories
  • Heavy cream – 52 calories
  • Ketchup – 20 calories
  • Mayonnaise (regular) – 95 calories
  • Olive oil – 120 calories
  • Ranch dressing (regular) – 70 calories
  • Sour cream – 23 calories
  • Sugar – 60 calories
  • Tartar sauce – 32 calories
  • Vinaigrette dressing – 50 calories

If you don’t keep a food journal, now might be the time to give it a try. You don’t have to log endlessly—a typical day or two might be enough to clue you into where these extra calories are sneaking into your diet. Not to mention, the act of simply keeping the food journal is often enough to help tighten up your menu because you automatically become more aware of what you’re putting into your mouth. In fact, research shows that people who track their food intake lose more weight than those who don’t.

If condiments are indeed a culprit, you can easily make smart (and delicious) swaps. Here are a few tasty, lower-calorie ideas you may want to try:

A Leaner Way to Dress Your Greens

Ranch dressing is a hugely popular way to dress a salad—but it also works as a delicious dip for veggies. Try making your own at home and reap the benefits of fewer calories and sodium. Excess sodium is a problem because it can increase blood pressure and may also lead to bloating.

A Trimmer Chip Topper

Sure, guacamole is loaded with heart-healthy fats, but it’s also pretty caloric. I found a way to enjoy the same rich flavor but for half the calories. It’s called Salsa-Mole: Simply combine an equal amount of guac with an equal amount of salsa. You can enjoy a ¼ cup for just 55 calories.

A More-Diet Friendly Dip

Sour cream gives dips a nice, creamy consistency, but it can also prevent any dips on the scale. Swap out the fatty ingredient and replace it with nonfat plain Greek yogurt, which is much lower in calories and higher in protein. 

A Slimmer Sandwich Spread

You could use light mayo on your sandwiches as an easy way to save yourself some calories. Or you could try this delicious alternative: hummus. Made from pureed chickpeas, this treat provides a dose of fiber and protein. Plus, it’s versatile; you can also enjoy it as a dip with veggies.

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