Diet Dangers

Is your diet full of ‘healthy’ items that might be preventing you from losing weight?


You do your best to eat healthily, but some of the things you imagine are going to be good for you could actually be ruining your diet plan.

Not all salads are good

Sad but true, because something like a Caesar salad can have 300-400 calories and 30 grams of fat.

The issue here is in the dressing so reduce the amount to just one tablespoon, or use a low-fat yoghurt instead of mayonnaise.

Beware energy bars

You really have to be a fanatical label reader, and unfortunately on many such bars the ingredients list is so small you may need a magnifying glass.

Many of these are packed with sugar and up to 500 calories, even though they are only small in size so probably won’t fill you up.

Look for those with 200 calories or less, contain some fibre and at least 5 grams of protein. Those will help provide energy when the sugar rush fades.

Smoothie alert

Unless you are making this at home and can carefully choose low calorie ingredients the ones you have in a cafe can have a whopping 80 grams of sugar, 350 calories or more.

Depending on what ingredients you choose they also have little protein, and often no fresh fruit but fruit concentrates instead.

Make sure you get fresh fruit, low-fat yogurt, milk, or protein powder to blend in to give you a satisfying smoothie that also gives you good nutrition.

Sugar-free can fool you

For one thing if you think you have been good with some elements of your diet you often ‘compensate’ and perhaps have a side order of fries or a dessert that will really wreck your diet.

The other issue with ‘sugar-free’ is that it inevitably means ‘chemical additives’ instead and health-wise that is certainly not a healthy option.

Not all water is the same

Water when plain is a healthy drink but have you looked at all the ‘enhanced’ waters in the chiller cabinet?

Vitamins and flavourings are commonly added to bottled water and advertised on the label, but can also contain sugar or sweeteners. That can add up to going from no calories up to 125 per bottle.

If plain water bores you, then try adding a few drops of vanilla essence or a very small amount of apple juice to give it more flavour.

How milk can pile on the pounds

If you are serious about dieting you are probably already drinking skimmed or semi skimmed milk. Whole milk contains 150 calories, semi-skimmed 130 calories and skimmed has 80 calories.

It can take a while to get used to the taste of low fat/skimmed milk so if you are drinking whole milk try mixing it with 25% semi skimmed, then 50% until you are drinking 100% semi skimmed.

Once that’s achieved try the same thing with the semi-skimmed and skimmed milk until you find a proportion that satisfies your taste buds.

Not all muffins are created equal

Choose carefully, as many muffins are mainly sugary little cakes of refined flour and a large one from a store or cafe can hit 500 calories with 11 teaspoons of sugar.

Go for the smallest size and choose ingredients that will give you maximum 100 calories and are a good source of whole grains and fibre.

Low-fat muesli

Did you know that a low-fat version often has only 10% fewer calories than a ‘normal’ muesli and is still full of sugar.

A study at Cornell University in the USA found that people ate 49% more cereal when they thought it was low-fat and that takes them well over the 10% of calories they thought they were saving.

Best to check for low-sugar, whole-grain cereal, and sweeten it with fresh fruit.

Not all yoghurt is healthy

Yoghurt is a great food for dieters as it is rich in protein and calcium, but only when it is natural.

Many have lots of added sugar, up to 30 or more grams of fructose, sucrose, or other sweeteners.

Do a label comparison of a fruit yoghurt next to a plain one to see the difference between the sugars that are naturally in milk and the added sugar listed on the nutrition facts panel of the fruit yoghurt.

Those ‘compote’ yoghurts which give you a fruit fix on the bottom are also likely to have been sweetened. If you really can’t stand plain yoghurt then try blending it half and half with a fruit yoghurt to cut down the calories.

Multigrain product

That must be healthy right? But check what is the first ingredient listed, as that will be the majority, and if it is white flour then you will be getting very little benefit as the fibre will have been stripped out of it.

Look for labels that say 100% whole grain and check for a high fibre content.

Iceberg lettuce

Now that definitely has to be healthy? Well yes but its main attraction is the texture as it has few vitamins and not a lot of flavour.

This lack of taste can lead to you using more dressing and flavouring than you would with a more tasty lettuce.

So use only a little oil and vinegar dressing and add some spinach and watercress to give it some ‘bite’ or add a tablespoon of crumbled feta cheese for more flavour.


The basic ingredients are fine: cabbage, carrot, celery are just the basics but it is what you put on it that is the problem.

Most commercial coleslaw in a restaurant or cafe in a small portion can have260 calories and 21 grams of fat thanks to the mayonnaise. That is a third of most people’s daily limit so ask for one with non fat yoghurt or make your own at home to control the calories.

Helpful information:

Losing weight is not easy, especially at menopause. We tend to be exercising less, comfort eating when stressed and hormonal imbalance can also pile on the pounds as we deal with oestrogen dominance.

Bioidentical progesterone is a natural diuretic to help release fluid from the body and so reduce weight, and if bloating is one of your concerns then this article can help too.