Knowing your limits is vital for everything -- from business spending to your health.
If you're taking your health seriously, you may have an established calorie goal that guides your food choices. And for entrepreneurs, a healthy lifestyle not only impacts your body, but also your mind. Good eating habits can ramp up your energy, make you more productive and improve your mood.
On the other side of the spectrum, poor diet choices (and overindulging on certain foods) may have you feeling sluggish and moody, as well as putting you at risk of health issues such as a heart attack and obesity.
Without actually weighing out your servings on a kitchen scale (like I do), figuring out how many calories you're consuming every day can be tricky. Beyond taking the time-consuming step of tracking everything you eat, there are certain foods that can easily push you toward your calorie limit without providing much nutritional value.
Although not outwardly bad for you in small amounts, here are six foods that you should carefully monitor for some instant calorie savings:
1. Juice. A healthy diet consists of several servings of fruits and vegetables each day. Many think they can accomplish this with a cup of juice. Wrong. The "meat" of the fruit is the healthy part and contains all the good stuff, such as fiber, that our bodies thrive on. You won't get that in juices. Instead, juices contain tons of sugar and calories -- even when it says “no added sugar.”
An 8-ounce serving of orange juice is approximately 110 calories, along with an alarming 22 grams of sugar (a typical packet of sugar contains about two to four grams). Cut juice out of your diet and stick to real fruit.
2. Coffee creamer. A cup of joe a day (or two or three) has many health benefits. But for many people, this usually comes with a calorie-heavy catch. Most of us add creamer to our caffeine fix. A single tablespoon serving of French vanilla creamer contains 35 calories, which doesn't sound too bad, but usually one serving is not enough for most people. Those who prefer a lighter and sweeter cup of coffee may be consuming three to four servings at a time. After three cups of coffee, that’s more than 300 calories, just for coffee creamer.
Consider switching to fat-free or fat-reduced milk or non-dairy creamer, which contains less calories and sugar, although it does take some getting used to.
3. Salad dressing. When we think of a healthy meal, a salad is usually part of it. But most of us don't like the taste of vegetables by themselves, leading us to coat them in various dressings. Nutritional information varies by brand, but many dressings -- from ranch, thousand island, honey mustard and even balsamic vinaigrette -- can contain around 100 calories each serving (about 2 tablespoons). Like coffee creamer, we're less apt to use only one serving.
Carefully read the labels of any salad dressings you purchase or make your own natural dressing with avocado and lemon juice.
4. Nuts. Almonds, peanuts, pistachios and other nuts contain lots of good fats. They're also really high in calories. A serving of nuts -- 28 grams, which is about a handful -- contains 170 calories. If you're like me, when a large container of nuts is placed in front of you, you'll keep picking. It's very easy to eat more than 500 calories after snacking for just a few minutes, if you're not careful.
If you have to pick at something, try vegetables such as carrots, broccoli and peppers.
5. Spreads. What's a sandwich without cream cheese, mayonnaise or peanut butter? The problem, as you've probably already figured out, is that we tend to put too much on our bread. Think about this: When you're in a bagel store and order one with cream cheese, you're definitely getting more than one serving of the spread. That could be at least 150 calories just for cream cheese. A good habit to form is to start putting the least amount of the spread that you could tolerate. You won't miss the extra glob after a while.
6. Alcohol. Really, you say? You probably know you shouldn't drink too much already, because you know, of the whole falling down thing. But mixed drinks and regular beer can contain lots of calories. You can easily consume around 500 calories with just three drinks. Try to stick with light beer, and remember to order diet soda in any mixed drinks. Many mixed drinks also contain juice as well.
Remember, everything can be okay in moderation. Actively thinking about how much you consume is a big first step toward healthier eating habits.
What foods are you apt to eat too much of? Tell us in the comments section.