Be a ‘diet detective’

Next time you go to buy groceries, bring your “diet detective” magnifying glass to enlarge nutrition labels and ensure what you’re choosing is smart to put in your cart. Items you may think are “healthy” can be really high in sugar, fat, sodium and calories that can sabotage healthy eating and weight management goals.

Track Down Leaner Choices: Instead of ground beef, choose chicken or turkey – but make sure it says “white meat” to really cut the fat content. Sliced chicken or turkey breast are also preferable choices compared to processed deli meats that are high in sodium and nitrates. Rather than “filet mignon” try “filet of fish” (non-breaded of course) for a great source of lean protein. Orange Roughy, in the freezer section at Publix, is a light, white fish ideal for preparing quick and easy healthful recipes. Egg whites are another lean source of protein that are very versatile and conducive to mixing in veggies, lean meats and low-fat cheeses.

Uncover Hidden Sugars: Yogurt, oatmeal, whole grain cereals and vitamin water sound like diet-friendly choices, but upon closer inspection, you’ll discover “magnified” amounts of sugar. Fruit sweetened yogurts as well as flavored instant oatmeal, brazen raisin brans making deceptively healthy claims and nutrient enhanced waters can all have as much sugar as tempting candy bars at checkout lines. Low sugar alternatives such as plain oatmeal, fat-free or Greek yogurt, Vitaminwater-0 and whole grain cereals with less than 3 grams of sugar per serving are better choices that can help you achieve “sweet dieting success.”

Clues for Carbs: Carbohydrates are essential for a balanced diet – but not all are created equal. Toss white pastas, white rice, white potatoes and white breads high on the glycemic index and opt for brown rice, Ezekiel bread, quinoa, sweet potatoes, oatmeal and whole grain pastas made with spelt, kemut or rice.

Supplement Solvers: Most mainstream supermarkets now have an aisle dedicated to energy bars and protein shakes. These kind of supplements used to be purchased mostly by athletes and bodybuilders – but now, many busy people are using bars and shakes as snacks and meal replacements – even if they never exercise at all. While it’s always preferable to eat “real food “ in the form of a healthful meal or snack, if you’re going to have a bar or shake “on-the-go” – be sure to go with the ones that truly are high in protein and not packed with skyhigh sugar grams…some have as much as 19 grams!

Dessert and Snack Surveillance: Even the most die-hard dieters want to have something sweet, salty and crunchy every now and then. But don’t be fooled by diet-derailers like yogurt raisins, veggie chips and caramel rice cakes. Even frozen yogurt can have as much sugar per serving as ice cream. Great “snack attack” choices in moderate portions include almonds, walnuts, air-popped popcorn, MHP Power-Pak protein pudding (available at GNC), fresh fruit, sugar-free Jello, and now – instead of ice cream, you can satisfy your sweet tooth with a lot less fat and calories thanks to the amazing Yonanas machine. It makes creamy, delicious frozen treats, using only frozen fruit, that looks, tastes and feels like soft-serve ice cream in seconds! Visit (available at Bed Bath & Beyond).

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