PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Whether you’re grocery shopping or eating out, choosing the best food for your diet isn’t always as simple as the lowest calorie count.
“We have assumptions about certain foods – like if this is a vegetable, it’s always good, and if this is a carb, it’s always bad,” says dietician Leslie Bonci. “And reality is – lines are blurred.”
Bonci, who is the UPMC dietician for the Steelers, Pirates, Penguins and pro-athletes around the country, says these ideas are deeply ingrained.
Bonci came up with some of the top diet boosters and busters to help us look differently at what we’re eating to be healthy and trim.
She and KDKA’s Kristine Sorensen paired up common foods and asked people to pick which is better to lose weight (the diet booster).
Ask yourself which one you think is the booster and buster, and then compare it Bonci’s answers.
1.) Baked Potato OR Veggie Chips
Most people thought the baked potato was the diet booster, but that’s not the case. The baked potato is a diet booster because it’s small and filling.
“That F and F, the fiber and the fill, go such a long way in making people feel satisfied,” Bonci explains.
Whereas the veggie chips won’t fill you up. One serving size is only a handful, and it’s hard to stop at that.
2.) Creamy Soup like butternut squash or tomato soup OR a Smoothie?
The smoothie is the diet buster, because most pre-made smoothies contain several servings per container and the calories can add up. Plus, soup is more satisfying.
“Studies show that liquid in the bowl actually makes us feel more satisfied than liquid in the glass,” Bonci says.
3.) Salad OR Hamburger
Naturally, most people think the salad is the diet booster, but often, a salad can have double the calories of a hamburger depending what’s on it.
“It’s all the add-ins. No one thinks about the croutons, fried chicken, cheese,” Bonci says, “and sometimes there’s so much creamy dressing you can’t see the lettuce underneath it all.”
She says for a salad to be good for your diet, use low-calorie dressing and keep your salad to mostly veggies.
For a hamburger to be low calorie, forget the cheese and stick with low-calorie condiments like ketchup, mustard and pickles. If you can’t go without the fries, she says consider going without the bun as a swap.
4.) 100-Calorie Pack of Cookies OR Two Regular Cookies?
Bonci says two regular cookies are the diet booster because they will satisfy you instead of the 100-calorie packs in which the bag is more than half empty and it’s really hard to stop at just one.
5.) Bowl of Chili OR Yogurt Parfaits?
Bonci says it’s about what will fill you up longer, and in this case, it’s the chili. Plus, with all the nuts and granola on top of the yogurt, it has twice as many calories as the chili.
6.) Sugar-Free Candies OR a Bag of Regular Peanut M&M’s?
The diet booster is the regular peanut M&M’s.
Bonci says people can get confused by the word “free.”
“People are not necessarily hearing the word sugar; they’re hearing the word ‘free.’ ‘Free,’ therefore, it has no calories, and I can eat as much as I want,” Bonci says. “The assumption a lot of people make is calorically, it’s going to be a lot lower. People are in for a rude awakening.”
Sugar-free candies often have more calories and give you less satisfaction.
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