Diet foods, used wisely, can help with weight loss.
Packaged foods and drinks labeled "diet" and "low calorie" may seem appealing if you're trying to lose weight. They're easy to find, too. Sodas, crackers, frozen entrees and even sweets are on the long list of foods that come in diet varieties. These items may help you kick-start a healthy eating regimen or learn more about portion control as you try to avoid extra weight. But there are some important warnings to keep in mind with diet foods.
First, be careful not to use low-calorie food to justify eating more later in the day, said Rachel K. Johnson, Ph.D., M.P.H., R.D., who chairs the American Heart Association's Nutrition Committee. "As long as people don't compensate for those calories it can be an effective tool," Johnson said. She warned against thinking: "Oh, I had a diet beverage . so, therefore, I can have the cookies."
Read Labels, Control Portions - If you eat packaged "diet" foods, it helps to become a savvy nutrition label reader. Be sure to watch the serving size, as sometimes the foods don't really contain fewer calories. Also, watch nutritional value. For example, snack items in 100-calorie packs might just be empty calories in smaller quantities, said Johnson.
Controlling the portion size of the foods you consume is crucial in healthy eating and weight management. Frozen, low-calorie entrees can help you become familiar with what an appropriate portion size should look like, so eating those meals occasionally can be useful, Johnson said. However, check to make sure the food isn't loaded with too much sodium, which raises the risk of high blood pressure, a risk factor for heart disease and stroke.
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Brought to you by the American Heart Association