I was repulsed as I watched my sister scoop a slab of butter into a bowl of freshly steamed green beans in her kitchen several years ago.
“What are you doing? You’re completely erasing the whole point of eating vegetables,” I stammered.
Without blinking an eye, my sister retorted that what she was doing was no different than tossing together spinach and salad dressing. Huh. I hadn’t thought of that before, but you know what? She was right.
Let’s take a step back and really look at what we consume daily. Yes, there’s our morning coffee, but do we take it straight up black or with whole milk, cream, sugar or syrup? Yes, we made ourselves a turkey sandwich on whole-wheat bread, but do we also add mayonnaise and/or mustard? Do you see where I’m going here?
Condiments are those wonderful things that add flavor to our foods. We rely on them so much sometimes, that we don’t even factor them into our daily calorie count. That’s a big problem when we add up the salad dressings, creams, sugars, ketchups and barbecue sauces.
Read the labels on your condiments. There are lots of sugar, sodium, fat and calories in the small (generally limited to a couple of tablespoons) serving sizes for dressings, dips and other extras. You’d be shocked to learn that 1 tablespoon of mayo packs 100 calories and 11 grams of fat.
Keep track of what (and how much) you’re putting on your food. Remember, there’s a huge difference in calories between the mustards and the mayos! Some people even find it helpful to keep track of food in a journal to see what’s hidden.
Substitute unhealthy condiments with low-fat or lower-calorie alternatives. Replacing creamy Italian dressing with oil and spices, or swapping regular mayo with the fat-free version, is a good start.
There also are some great alternatives if you want to wipe out those pesky added calories altogether while keeping great flavors. Craving something salty in your sandwich or salad? Try sunflower seeds, olives, pickles or sardines. Sometimes adding a little extra spice gives you the flavor you’re looking for with added health benefits too.