Healthy Habit: You Choose Nutritious FoodsWhat you put on your plate is important, but healthy eating is also about being mindful of how much you consume. For example, your husband has pancakes with butter and syrup for breakfast, your son grabs a doughnut, and you opt for a cup of oatmeal with a handful of walnuts, a sliced banana, and a large glass of organic blueberry juice. You may win on nutrients, but when it comes to calories you're dead last: That healthy-sounding meal adds up to almost 700, more than a third of your allotment for the day.
Do It Better
Keep portions of even healthy foods in check. The best way to know if you're eating too much is to write it down. "Even if you note it on a napkin and then throw it away, that's okay. Just the act of writing makes you more aware," says Taub-Dix. Portion control cues help, too: a baseball-size serving for chopped veggies and fruits; a golf ball for nuts and shredded cheese; a fist for rice and pasta; and a deck of cards for lean meats. Also, swap higher-calorie healthy foods for high-fiber, lower-cal varieties like these:
A ?-cup serving of strawberries has 23 calories, while a medium banana has more than 100. An orange has almost half the calories of a glass of orange juice. More low-cal picks include melon and blueberries.
Per 1 cup, raw spinach has 7 calories and boiled eggplant contains 35 calories; mashed sweet potato, however, has 249.
Two full cups of air-popped popcorn (a whole grain) has about the same number of calories as three little whole wheat crackers.
Healthy Habit: You Order the Healthiest Sounding Item on the MenuChoose the turkey sandwich over pizza and you think you're being good, but again, looks can be deceiving. A turkey sandwich at Panera Bread comes on focaccia with cheese and mayo and delivers 960 calories. Two slices of pepperoni pan pizza from Pizza Hut total 560 calories. Put your sandwich in a spinach wrap instead of regular bread? It's the same difference, says Tara Gidus, RD, a spokesperson for the ADA. "My clients think they get more nutrients and save on calories with 'healthy bread,' but often that's not the case."
Do It Better: Look up Fast Food Nutrition Facts in Advance
Many restaurants offer nutrition information, from Taco Bell to Subway. See if your favorite eatery has nutrition facts online or in the store — you may be surprised at what you see. We were when we checked out Baskin Robbins: A medium strawberry-banana smoothie has 80 more calories than a strawberry milk shake!
Healthy Habit: You Satisfy Cravings With "Diet" TreatsWhen you want something sweet, all those fat-free, sugar-free options seem like a smart idea. But researchers at Cornell University found that overweight people who choose low-fat versions of snack foods rather than the regular kinds consume on average twice as many calories. "The terms fat-free or sugar-free can create a green light effect, triggering people to eat more," says Cynthia Sass, MPH, RD, Prevention's nutrition director. But many fat-free foods have about the same number of calories (or more) as their full-fat counterparts. Case in point: One variety of oatmeal-raisin cookie has 107 calories and 9 g of sugar, and the fat-free version of the same brand has 106 calories plus 14 g of sugar.
Do It Better
Go for reasonable amounts of the real thing. If you adore ice cream, have a small scoop of premium. "You won't stick to a diet that doesn't include your favorites," says David Grotto, RD, a spokesperson for the ADA. Bottom line: Life's too short for forbidden foods.
At the Restaurant: 5 "Healthy" Foods to Avoid1. Wheat Pancakes
Ounce for ounce, pancakes made with buckwheat and whole-wheat flour have the same number of calories as the plain old buttermilk type. Save calories by skipping the butter and syrup.
2. Taco Salad
Eat the edible shell and you'll consume nearly twice as many calories than if you eat the salad alone. Reduce temptation — order yours on a regular plate.
3. Soup in a Bread Bowl
The same theory applies to soup: The edible bowl adds more than 550 calories to your total count. Opting for oyster crackers is a little better, but ? cup is still 96 additional calories.
4. Vegetable Quesadilla
It has about the same number of calories as the chicken version; the reason is often the cheese, so ask the server to hold half.
5. Fish Sandwich
Even without the tartar sauce, a breaded fish patty at a fast-food restaurant has more calories than a bacon cheeseburger. Go for whatever is grilled.