Simple Weight Loss Tips: Substitute Healthy Condiments for Unhealthy Ones

You’re struggling to lose weight and aren’t getting very far. You’re eating more fruits and vegetables and have cut back on processed foods, but the scale isn’t budging. Every calorie counts when you’re struggling to lose weight and many people are consuming “hidden calories” because of what they PUT on their food. An example is condiments.

That turkey sandwich on whole-grain bread is waistline-friendly, at least until you douse it with an all-too-generous helping of mayonnaise. Salad dressings are another example of a condiment that can turn something low in calories like raw vegetables into a calorie bomb. Don’t let that happen to you. Here are some healthy condiment options to replace those unhealthy ones.

Mayonnaise

A single tablespoon of mayo has a little over 100 calories, and how many people really only use a tablespoon? Plus, mayo has around 11 grams of fat. Slathering on the mayo is a good way to negate the health benefits of that oh,so lean turkey sandwich. You could use low-fat or fat-free mayo instead, but there are other more flavorful options.

Hummus, a middle Eastern spread made from chickpeas, olive oil and spices, has the perfect, creamy texture for a salad and 75% fewer calories. You can buy it at most supermarkets in a variety of flavors like garlic, red pepper or spinach. Hummus is a good source of heart-healthy, monounsaturated fats unlike the less health fats in mayo.

Another healthy sandwich spread with heart-healthy monounsaturated fats is guacamole. Of course, you can also fall back on another low-calorie favorite for your sandwiches – mustard.

Ketchup

Ketchup isn’t a complete nutritional waste. It contains lycopenes, a carotenoid compound that may lower the risk of heart disease and some types of cancer. The problem? It contains too much sugar or high-fructose corn syrup, depending upon the brand. Heinz makes a low-sugar ketchup. It’s a better option, but you can also use salsa in place of ketchup. Salsa  has about a third of the calories of ketchup and little or no sugar. Like ketchup, it’s a good source of lycopenes, and the chili peppers in salsa have anti-inflammatory properties.

Salad Dressings

Not all bottled salad dressings are unhealthy, but many contain high fructose corn syrup and MSG, a controversial flavoring agent that some people believe is a neurotoxin. Plus, some bottled salad dressings are too high in sodium. Fat-free salad dressings aren’t any better.  They usually contain the highest amounts of sugar.

You can make a simple salad dressing at home using olive oil and a high-quality vinegar. Throw in some spices, and you have dressing you can enjoy without guilt. If you don’t want to make your own, use salsa or hot sauce as a salad dressing. They have just the right amount of spice and little or no sugar.

Butter

A tablespoon of butter has just as many calories as a tablespoon of mayonnaise. Many supermarkets sell light butter, usually with canola oil added, and whipped butter. They typically have around half the calories of regular butter. Other options? Use Greek yogurt in place of butter and sour cream on a baked potato and hummus or an olive oil dip on a piece of bread. If you eat whole-grain toast in the morning, substitute fruit puree or a jelly with no added sugar for butter. Apple sauce or pureed prunes can replace some of the butter in recipes when you’re baking.

Other Unhealthy Condiments

Other condiments to avoid are barbeque sauce and teriyaki sauce since they’re loaded with sugar. There aren’t any simple substitutes for these two condiments although you can make a healthier version at home using a natural sweetener like Stevia. You can find a number of recipes for these sauces online. Here’s a video that shows you how to make barbeque sauce using Stevia:

The Bottom Line?

Keep your condiments healthy by making some simple substitutions, and don’t let those hidden calories sneak up on you.

Kristie Leong M.D.

Dr. Kristie Leong and Dr. Apollo Leong are physicians helping you to lead a healthy lifestyle by sharing nutrition and fitness tips and keeping you abreast of the latest health news.

2 thoughts on “Simple Weight Loss Tips: Substitute Healthy Condiments for Unhealthy Ones

  • November 18, 2012 at 9:25 am
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    I have always beielved this-I think diet is 70%, working out is 30%. I could eat a no carb diet all day long but if I’m eating 5,000 calories per day, I’m going to gain weight! I agree that you should still eat healthy but it all goes back to the basics of burning more calories than you consume and staying in a healthy range.

    • January 7, 2013 at 4:17 pm
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      Austine, you’re absolutely right. Diet is just as important, if not more so, than exercise. The two together are a powerful combination. 🙂

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