Healthy condiments like yellow mustard have far fewer calories than other popular condiments like ketchup.
It's easy for extra calories in condiments to sabotage your dieting efforts.
Pay attention to the sauces, dressings, and relishes that you add to your food! A healthy dish can quickly become fattening if an unhealthy topping is added.
On the page below, I'll list condiments that are low in calories, others that are in the mid-range of calories, and the condiments you should always avoid.
Not all condiments are created equal. Some, such as ketchup, including a surprising amount of sugar.
According to a Food Network show I saw the other day, manufacturers load ketchup with sugar as a preservative. That's why restaurants can leave ketchup bottles on the table for weeks without spoiling.
As with many Americans, ketchup used to be my favorite condiment. These days I've cut it from my diet completely.
I suggest you take a close look at the labels of the condiments you use most often. You might be surprised at the amount of sugar, fat, and extra calories in some of them.
Here is the short list of healthy condiments I have at home that I personally use on a regular basis:
Regular yellow mustard (contains no sugar and no fat, only vinegar and a little salt)
Spicy mustard (vinegar, salt; no fat or sugar)
Hot sauce (no fat, no sugar; some salt)
Vinegar (for salads; I mix it with powdered garlic)
Extra-virgin olive oil (for salads; contains healthy fat)
Natural herbs and spices (oregano, red pepper, cinnamon, etc.)
Low-salt seasoning blends such as Mrs. Dash or Tony Chachere's Salt-Free Cajun Seasoning
Keep in mind that any spice or herb in your cabinet can be combined with olive oil for great flavor. And it's a lot cheaper than a store-bought condiment!
Note: A visitor to this page has provided important clarification about appropriate dietary quantity and use of olive oil, which I've reproduced in full here:
Olive oil should be in the "in moderation" category. A Mediterranean diet doesn't mean "lots of olive oil". It comes closer to meaning "Lots of veggies + a healthy Omega 3/Omega 6 ratio".
Olive oil was indeed eaten in the landmark study, but only 2-3 Tablespoons a day and that was much of their fat budget. - Jeff Little
Thanks a lot for that, Jeff.
Now here are some condiments that I normally don't use, though many of these are probably okay in moderation:
Sour cream (light and reduced-fat versions)
Cream cheese (light or reduced fat)
Sugar-free jelly or jam
Spaghetti sauce (the no-added-sugar variety)
Salsa (check the label)
Steak sauce (check the label)
Soy sauce (the low sodium variety)
I am a somewhat suspicious of "sugar-free" condiments that contain artificial sweeteners rather than regular sugar. Some studies suggest that artificial sweeteners fool your body's hunger mechanisms causing you to eat more of that food than you normally would.
The condiments that I avoid are listed below. If you want to better manage your condiment use, you might begin by eliminating these:
Ketchup (high in sugar)
Regular mayonnaise (high in bad fat)
Barbecue sauce (high in sugar)
Worcestershire sauce (made from maple syrup)
Cocktail sauce (many varieties are high in sugar)
Regular jelly and jam
You can probably think of others to add to this list that are common where you live.
From now on, don't be fooled by innocent-looking condiments. Even small amounts can load your diet with hidden calories. Those extra fat and sugar calories will not help you achieve your fat-loss goals.
Just say "no" to most store-bought condiments (and actually taste your food!) or switch to healthy condiments exclusively.
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