Becky Robbins, Contributing writer
The key to losing weight and being healthier is to eat better and eat less. Starting down the path to better eating is a big step. Sometimes you will stumble, but you need to pick yourself up and keep going. There may be a few hidden items in your diet that may be causing you to trip up.
Here are five of the most prominent offenders.
Who doesn't enjoy that morning coffee break? A nice venti cocoa mocha latte or something with an equally long name hits the spot. However, that drink may contain between 290 and 700 calories, according to Starbucks.com -- and that is before adding the whipped cream.
If you stop for one every day of the week, you are consuming between 2,030 and 4,900 calories. For an average person, 3,500 calories can add one pound to your body. That means possibly adding that much each week.
Calories are not the only factor to consider when looking at frothy beverages. You could be consuming between 9 and 27 grams of fat, not to mention between 13 and 95 grams of sugar. That is a lot to think about when choosing beverages.
It does not mean you have to completely cut lattes out of your diet. Cutting back on your consumption and switching to the "skinny" versions that use nonfat or skim milk would save you thousands of calories a year.
When some people make a sandwich, it is second nature to spread on the mayo. However, regular mayonnaise packs a punch of 110 calories and 12 grams of fat per tablespoon. A sandwich a day with mayonnaise means 770 calories just from the mayo. Jumping rope for an hour would only burn 730 of those calories.
The best bet would be to substitute mustard or even hummus in place of that mayonnaise. A teaspoon of mustard, which is a serving size, has no calories. Hummus has 30 calories and 1.5 grams of fat per tablespoon. Both will cut calories and still prevent you from eating a dry sandwich.
Greens are an extremely healthy part of any diet. You have to be careful what tops that salad, though. Dressings can be the enemy of a dieter. They make that salad just a bit more flavorful, but just a tablespoon of a full-fat dressing can pack 50 calories onto your meal. At a salad per day, that tablespoon of dressing on each salad equals about 5 pounds a year.
Finding lower-calorie alternatives allows you to still spice up your salad. Balsamic vinegar is a healthier alternative for your greens.
Energy bars are well-known for being full of the vitamins and minerals that your body needs.
However, that little bar is also packed full of calories. Some energy bars have 200 calories. That's great for an athlete who need to maintain fuel without a lot of bulk, but as a snack, that is a lot of calories. It would be healthier to reach for a piece of fruit or some crunchy fresh vegetables at snack time.
Fruit will still give you that quick energy boost you are looking for.
If you occasionally eat energy bars as a meal, they will not bust your diet.
Yogurt is a healthy choice most of the time. However, whole-fat yogurts contain more saturated fat than low-fat options. Today, the low-fat versions are just as creamy, leaving you to wonder how they keep it all tasting so similar. Low-fat counterparts tend make up for the fat by increasing the amount of sugar. This will not help you on the healthy diet front.
Your best bet when choosing yogurts is to stick with a low-fat, plain variety. You can stir in your own fresh fruit or some other type of sweetener. However, you will be keeping the amount of sugar low. So, keep yogurt in your diet, but make sure your choices do not have too much fat or sugar.
Before sticking that food in your shopping cart, be sure to read the label. Packages can be deceiving with positive words such as "yogurt," "fruit" or even "whole grain." So check out the nutritional facts before you add it to your diet.