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How hidden calories can sabotage your diet

Last updated on: March 21, 2018 10:34 IST

It's not easy to locate where all those extra calories come from. 

Padma Lakshmi

Photograph: Courtesy Padma Lakshmi/Instagram

People often think of a diet as a specific weight-loss plan, but diet is simply the types and amount of food we eat.

Even a salad can go from a diet meal to a full-blown diet disaster, with the additions of toppings like grains, cheese, and dressing.

One dietician showed just how hard it can be to tell the difference.

Australian dietician Paula Norris recently uploaded a picture of two seemingly identical salads on her Instagram.

Hidden calories

Photographs: Courtesy Paula Norris/Instagram

While both looked delicious, one salad contained just 535 calories, while the other contained 995 calories.

The dietician then wrote down the salad discrepancies and how the calories sneak into the one on the left.

In the salad on the left, Norris included one cup of cooked pearl barley, 70 gm halloumi cheese, 1/3 of a courgette, two florets of broccoli, some pepper, 50 gm of aubergine, three cherry tomatoes, 200 gm of poached chicken, 1/2 cup herbs, and dressing comprised of two teaspoons of extra virgin olive oil and two teaspoons of balsamic vinegar.

Compared to the ingredients in the other salad, it is easy to see where all those extra calories come from.

The salad on the right contains ½ cup of cooked pearl barley, 35g of halloumi cheese, 2/3 of a courgette, five florets of broccoli, ½ pepper, 100g of aubergine, five cherry tomatoes, 100g of poached chicken, 1/2 cup of herbs, and dressing made of two teaspoons of balsamic vinegar and two teaspoons of seeded mustard.

It is important to know how hidden calories can sabotage you, when you are trying to stick to a diet and eat healthily. 

Spot the difference

The size of the wrap (which saves about 100 calories) makes this one more obvious, but the other differences save you an extra 300 calories.
Ingredients on the left include a large wrap, 1 tsp oil for cooking, 1/2 brown onion, 160 gm regular mince, taco seasoning, 1/2 tin tomatoes, 1 cup lettuce, 1/2 tomato, 50 gm avocado and 40 gm cheese.
On the right: medium wrap, 1/2 brown onion, 100 gm extra lean mince, 50 gm black beans, 1/3 zucchini, 1/2 medium carrot, taco seasoning, 1/2 tin tomatoes, 1 cup lettuce, 1/2 tomato, 25 gm avocado
and 20 gm low fat cheese.