Steer clear of the 'skinny' muffin
1. Diet yoghurt
You might think they’re slimming, but diet yoghurts contain artificial sweeteners, the taste of which sets your body up for a high-calorie hit that, left unsatisfied, leaves you craving something sweet or fatty to hit the spot. Hello, weight gain! Plus, vegetarians beware: they often contain gelatin as a thickener. And despite all that, you’ll only save around 40 calories on the average 120g pot, compared with a standard fruit yoghurt. And, according to a study in the New England Journal of Medicine, eating yoghurt of any sort is linked with weight loss, thanks to the calcium content, so don’t be tempted to gunk up your system with more additives just to save a few cals.
The healthy alternative: Plain natural yoghurt served with fresh fruit (sweetened with a little honey, if you prefer) is a sweetener-free zone.
2. Banana chips
They're found on the shelves of healthfood shops, so they must be virtuous, right? Wrong! While fresh bananas are a powerhouse of energy-boosting fruit sugars and blood pressure-lowering potassium, banana chips are deep-fried in vats of coconut oil, so just one 30g handful has more artery-clogging saturated fat than two jam doughnuts. And with 630 calories per 100g (milk chocolate only has around 545 cals per 100g), any remaining benefit is wiped out.
The healthy alternative: Look out for chewier dried fruit, which tastes just as good but has no added oil.
3. Skinny muffins
The word ‘skinny’ conjures up the idea of being actively waist-friendly, but that’s a stretch when it comes to the 275 calories in the average ‘skinny’ blueberry muffin – the same as a Cadbury’s Double Decker. Plus, to compensate for slashing the fat content, most skinny muffins contain more sugar (as much as seven teaspoons more than the regular variety). Consequently, they’re high on the glycaemic index, meaning they’ll make your blood-sugar levels rocket and leave you craving yet more sugar when you get the inevitable crash that follows. Our advice? Steer clear!
The healthy alternative: A small wholemeal fruit scone (not buttered) or a slice of fruit bread will keep you going for longer.
4. Yoghurt-coated nuts
Don’t get us wrong, nuts are great – they’re rich in healthy omega-3 fats and skin-saving vitamin E, as well as being a good veggie source of protein – while live yoghurt is full of healthy bacteria and calcium. But put the two together and it’s a match made in culinary hell. The ‘yoghurt’ is actually just sugar and fat with a few ‘yoghurt solids’ thrown in – and as the coating makes up around 70% of the product, if you polish off a 100g bag, you’ll be getting about five teaspoons of sugar – the same as in a small bag of chocolate-coated peanut M&Ms.
The healthy alternative: For a hint of sweetness with your nuts, add a small handful of raisins or dried cranberries.
5. Organic sausages
We’re snooty about many basic bangers – turned off by small print admitting to just 50% meat (and 50% who knows what) – but the label ‘organic’ seems to hold a magic that draws us back to the processed meat counter. Unfortunately, along with a higher meat content, the organic type also has more of the associated blubber. For example, a typical supermarket organic sausage contains 10% more fat and 20% more calories than its budget, carb-heavy cousins, and two will provide nearly half your daily allowance of artery-clogging saturated fat and blood pressure-raising salt.
The healthy alternative: A Quorn sausage, which contains around half the calories of a meaty banger – and just 0.3g sat fat.