Four Cooking Mistakes That May Cause You To Gain Weight

Apr 12, 2015 //

You are working hard to rid yourself of extra weight by choosing the right foods, paying attention to calories, cutting out added sugars, and getting plenty of exercise. Don’t sabotage your low-cal meal by making a mistake in the kitchen. Avoid these cooking mistakes that may be accidentally causing you to gain weight.

1. Using Store Bought Tomato Sauce

Marinara sauce may seem like an innocent addition to rice, stuffed bell peppers, whole grain pasta, or other dishes, but there is something lurking in that jar of tomato sauce that can ruin your diet efforts. Sugar. Your store-bought marinara sauce may have as much as six grams of sugar in a single serving.

What to Do Instead

To avoid the sugar trap, make your own tomato sauce at home. Combine fresh or canned tomatoes with garlic, dried basil, dried oregano, a pinch of sea salt, and cracked pepper in a food processor or blender. Add a red bell pepper to naturally add a hint of sweetness, as well as a healthy dose of vitamin C to your sauce.

2. Eating Whole Grain Products

“Made with whole grains!” If you have loaded up your shopping cart with boxes proclaiming their whole grain goodness, beware. Using these products as part of your healthy eating plan could cause you to gain weight instead of lose it. Pastas, cereals, and crackers claiming to be healthy because of their whole grain content should stay at the store and out of your cart if you are serious about weight loss.

A grain can be separated from its parts, processed and ground, and a whole grain product only needs to contain 51 percent of whole grain to be considered “whole.” Compared to an intact grain that has not been processed, these “whole grains” have less fiber and lower nutrient levels. The processing that these whole grain crackers, cereals, breads, and other products go through results in increased blood sugar spikes when people eat these foods. These blood sugar spikes can increase hunger, lead to overeating, and play a part in insulin resistance. If you eat an intact grain, your body has to break down the outer bran, slowing the release of sugars into the bloodstream. With whole ground grains, the outer bran has already been broken down.

What to Do Instead

Whole grain products can also contain unhealthy additives. Harvard researchers examined 545 products labeled with a “Whole Grain” stamp, and found that most of them contained more calories and sugars than products who did not have the stamp. Intact grains may be a great source of beneficial fiber that can fill you up and help you shed pounds, but that is very different from whole grains that have been highly processed. Skip the whole grain pasta and bread, and look for barley, oats (not instant), brown rice, and quinoa instead.

3. Cooking With Too Much Oil

Oil doesn’t necessarily have to be on the “naughty” list in your kitchen when you are trying to lose weight, but that doesn’t mean you can have a free for all with it, either. Olive oil is a good source of a monounsaturated fat known as oleic acid, which has been shown to improve “good” HDL cholesterol levels. Coconut oil contains a saturated fat called lauric acid that has been shown to raise LDL and HDL cholesterol levels evenly, maintaining a healthy balance between the two. Both are better options than highly processed vegetable oils.

Certain vitamins are fat-soluble, like A, D, E and K. Consuming vegetables and foods high in fat-soluble vitamins with a small amount of fat, like that in olive oil, can help the body to absorb these important nutrients.

What to Do Instead

A single tablespoon of olive oil can add 120 calories to your dish. If you are using it as a salad dressing, or to saute vegetables, are you counting your oil as part of your daily calorie intake? To keep olive oil from becoming a weight-gain cooking mistake, be sure to measure it out and count it accordingly. Don’t waste the calories by using oil on your cooking pans, either. A spritz of cooking spray can do the job just as well as a teaspoon of oil.

4. Using Salad Dressings

Salads can be a delicious part of your healthy eating plan, providing lots of nutrient dense vegetables in a low-calorie dish. The biggest mistake you can make when including salads in your diet is to drench them in salad dressings. Creamy salad dressings are full of calories and fat.

What to Do Instead

Light vinaigrettes may look like a better option on the store shelves, but you may be surprised to find they have replaced fat with added sugars. Make your own salad dressing at home for a healthier alternative for your salad.

Calories count when you are trying to lose weight, but so do added sugars, fat, and additives. By avoiding these four common cooking mistakes, you can help avoid the consequence of unintended weight gain and keep on the track to be bikini ready by summer.

Melissa Zimmerman

Melissa Zimmerman is a freelance writer specializing in health and nutrition writing. A California native living in Central Oregon, Melissa enjoys the outdoor adventures and beauty of the Pacific Northwest. When she is not kayaking on the river, you can find her in a yoga studio or practicing asanas outdoors. Melissa is a big believer in the power of yoga and healthy food to radically improve anyone's quality of life.

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