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Oh, Those Food Frauds!

Over the last three or four months, I wrote quite a few press releases for restaurants that advertised “authentic” continental and Italian cuisine. Their menu had all kinds of exotic items. But then, I wondered, how healthy are these exciting dinners? And why are most people who frequent these restaurants and rave about the food, almost always overweight?

A little bit of investigating (from the comfort of my keyboard) brought home the fact that some of the foods we think are healthy can be sly little diet destroyers. So let’s look at why just a few of the yummy things we enjoy and eat are not as healthy as we think. But hey, I love my treats too – so I’ve added a food fix.  Tell me what you think!

Caesar Salad

Seems like quite a popular choice in restaurants and just one bowl of this cool Caesar salad,  adds on 300-400 calories and 30 grams of fat. The culprit? The dressing of course! There are lots of variations of this salad. So how do you tackle it yet not give it up? Go for just one tablespoon of the dressing and two tablespoons of the cheese.


I love that word. Makes me think of fresh fruits all whisked into a nice – well – smoothie! But you know what? The so called blend, when you order it in a shop comes with almost  80 grams of sugar, 350 calories, no protein, and most likely, no fresh fruit. They use fruit concentrates in place of fresh fruits. Add the sorbet, the ice-cream and the sweeteners and you’ve got nothing more than a milkshake. I love milkshakes – but since we’re talking about health here – unless you’re making your own smoothie, watch out for the fraud part.  If you have to order it outside, go for a small cup. Insist on fresh fruit, milk, and protein add-ons.

Energy Bars

Energy bars are all the rage now. Thing is – most are dressed up candy bars and have more than 500 calories – and frankly – I think they’re expensive and often wonder how people are satisfied with a bar that size. Two bites – and its over. Ugh.  Pick bars that state 200 calories or less and indicate at least some fiber and protein that give you that energy rush when the sugar rush is gone. Want an easy recipe for home made energy bars?


The word Burrito has a cool ring to it. And you’d think, with healthy beans what could be a problem? Lots of saturated fat, over a thousand calories, cheese, cream, fat in the tortilla – thank you very much. If you order one of those XXL size burritos – lets face it – you’re only adding to the problem.  Solution? Share it with a friend. Or opt for those soft tacos with fajita type grilled veg on corn tortillas and some low-cal salsa.


When it comes to weight loss – “sugar-free” just about seems ideal. The hassle is when we go for artificially sweetened food or beverages and follow it up with  that “big” order of fries or yum – dessert. This adds a generous 300 calories to the meal and if you’re not burning off what you take in, you’ll obviously gain weight! So don’t blame the sugar-free stuff. Solution? Watch what you take in.

That Milk Latte

So you ordered a latte with low fat milk and then went and topped it off with whipped cream. Not a smart move, because you just added over 550 calories and 15 grams of saturated fat. Way worse than a cheeseburger. Fact is, any sweet frothy drink is a diet enemy. So do some damage control with skim milk and say no to the whipped cream. Tough I know – but think how you’ll avoid almost 150 calories and about two-thirds of the bad fat.


Mmmmm… Muffins. Big frauds. If you think they’re the ideal snack or breakfast add-on, think again. They are mostly sugary cakes made from refined flour. So, a ready made muffin comes to you with about 500 cals and close to ten teaspoons of sugar.  Horrified? Ha ha. Read those labels before you buy. Make sure you go for muffins that are made of whole grains. I have a lovely recipe for muffins. Want to know?


And that brings us to the multigrain scam. If your pack of bread or pasta or waffles says multigrain, head for the label right away. Quite a few of these are made from refined grains which means you just lost the fiber and some important nutrients. So, look for labels that say 100% whole grain. Opt for more fiber.

Iced Tea

It really breaks my heart to write this – but I love iced tea. Unfortunately, the antioxidants in iced tea don’t qualify as health food. There’s too much added sugar here and a tall glass of the iced tea is actually a health hazard and piles on the calories and sugar. What you do is, skip the sweet tea and choose unsweetened iced tea. Add lemon – and enjoy that zing without the calories. You can also go for herbal teas without sugar as they’re naturally pleasant-tasting. Okay, making it yourself is best.

Microwave Popcorn

I haven’t tried making microwave popcorn – I prefer the age-old pressure cooker style from natural corn. But apparently these branded “microwave popcorn” packs come with bad fat and trans fat. Why feel guilty when you eat popcorn? If you buy branded ready to make popcorn read the labels and go for the low fat, low salt version with 0% trans fat. If you like cheese, sprinkle it on the low salt version for an almost fat-free flavor

Salted Toppings

Which automatically brings us to salted toppings. Whether it is salads or snacks, quite a few of them are loaded with salt. Here the first thing to remember is – anything that is canned is high in salt.  One way to counter it is to rinse canned food and use. Or just go for the fresh version.

Banana Chips

Yes, I saved the best for last. Sadly, deep-fried bananas do not count if you’re thinking fruits and veggies. So they don’t actually look greasy, but one ounce equals 150 calories, 10 grams fat and 8 grams saturated fat.  Steel your heart, and eat a fresh banana instead. It has four times more nutrition, zero fat and a max of 100 calories. Most important – never eat straight out of the bag. It is dangerous.

Thing is, when it comes to food one likes, the word “don’t” almost always looks like a “just do it”. So – rather than give up your favorites – eat them in moderation and make small healthy changes!

That’s it.

Now I’ll wait for your feedback.  And hey, topic suggestions are welcome.

0 05 February, 2011 Health February 5, 2011

About the author

Vidya's healthy concoctions (read: health posts) makes the perfect cup of GingerChai for body and soul of our readers. Follow @vidyasury You can read her personal concoctions in her personal blog, Going A-Musing

View all articles by Vidya Sury


  1. gayatri

    nice! agree with you, some of these healthy things are nothing but pure sham!
    i can think of a substitue for energy bars – Chikki 😀

  2. Violette

    You crashed my world lady! Smoothies and Iced tea are part and water of my everyday. Nice article and sure to burn many’s calories in future.

  3. Delhizen

    reading this on the second day of my ‘I give on junk food’ and check before I order.. I am suuper happy

    btw you write press releases? r u a PR pro?

  4. mani

    Oh Dear! You just trashed my whole diet in this article.Some how I lost my appetite! :(. How could you Vidya? Boo hoo hoo ! sob!

  5. Nona

    Hi Vidya

    Please share the muffin recipe. I bake muffins once a month. My son enjoys it for snack in school. Unfortunately I still use castor sugar and butter. Sad but otherwise I have sacrifice the flavour

  6. R-A-J

    Hey Vidya,

    World’s second best love story:

    (World’s best love story: Guy proposes girl. Girl says No. And he lives happily ever after.. ) 🙂

    Pls promote/vote for my blog at above url.

    Cheers !!

    Someone once said, “everythin I like is either immoral, illegal or fattenin”. After readin ur post, I can now confirm tht the third part is true :). Good read n very informative. The Energy Bar scam is a real eye opener.

    Rock On n do Vote.


  7. Nandini

    Though I don’t indulge regularly on all these foods listed the amount of calories you have mentioned in each of them scares the hell out of me. Looking forward to the recipes 🙂

  8. Keeravani

    Nice article. Hope people especially the younger gen understands what is Healthy Food in real sense and not get fooled around.

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