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10 calorie-rich foods you don't realise you're eating

Jane Murphy / 23 February 2016 ( 21 May 2019 )

While most of us try to eat healthily, many of us appear to have a 'blind spot' when it comes to certain foods and drinks. So what are you forgetting?

Caesar salad with grated cheese and mayonnaise
Go easy with the grated cheese if you're watching your weight.

Your morning cuppa

Pop a teaspoonful of sugar in your tea or coffee and you'll be consuming an extra 16 empty calories.

But it's not just the sugar you add yourself that can make a difference: high-street hot drinks such as flavoured coffees, warm fruit drinks and hot chocolates may contain up to 25 tsp sugar per serving, according to a recent report from Action on Sugar.

Researchers analysed the sugar content of 131 popular hot drinks and found that 98 per cent would receive a red nutritional value label.

10 ways to eat less sugar

Informative, in-depth and in the know: get the latest health news and info with Saga Magazine. Find out more

Fizzy drinks

A can of cola contains around 9tsp sugar – that's 2 tsp more than the NHS's recommended intake of added sugar per day.

'Unless you are drinking water or "diet drinks" – which come a poor second place – those drinks count, too,' warns weight loss expert Dr Sally Norton.

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Standing-up snacks

You know the ones we mean: the biscuit you nibble while waiting for kettle to boil, the crusts you cut off a fussy eater's sandwich or that little bit of leftover cake mixture. It's all too easy to forget about the food we eat when we're on our feet.

'Make sure every morsel you eat is a conscious decision – to be savoured and enjoyed,' advises Dr Sally Norton. 'Try to sit down every time you eat to ensure you appreciate every calorie properly. You will feel more full – and be more aware.'

Get your snacking under control

A dollop of ketchup

Just under half of us admit our evening meals rarely go without a serving of tomato ketchup, according to a recent report commissioned by the Chilean Blueberry Committee. But seven in 10 people don't take into account that just one 1tbsp of tomato sauce contains around 19 calories and 4g sugar.

Salad dressing and mayonnaise

Ketchup isn't the only sauce or condiment we tend to forget about, of course. Drench your salad in Caesar dressing, and you could be pouring over an additional 200 calories and 20g fat. A serving of mayonnaise, meanwhile, harbours around 94 extra calories.

Dieting: self-help tips that work

Other people's leftovers

Repeat after us: it still counts, even if it wasn't on your plate when dinner was served.

Grab a chip from someone else's plate or 'help' your friend finish her ice cream and you'll be consuming extra calories – obviously.

Mothers who habitually finish off their children's meals, for example, are unwittingly consuming an extra 1,404 calories each week, according to a survey commissioned by Weight Loss Resources.

Grated cheese toppings

You may go easy on your portion sizes in a bid to cut calories when serving pasta or chilli – but then you can't resist a very generous sprinkling of cheese at the table.

Sound familiar? Remember, a 1tbsp serving of Parmesan contains around 40 calories and 3g fat, while Cheddar's not much better at 37 calories and roughly the same amount of fat.

A taste of honey

Liven up your morning porridge with a generous dollop of honey and you'll be adding another 64 calories and 17g sugar. So cut down a little, or sweeten it with fruit instead.

Honey vs sugar – which is best?

All that healthy stuff

Of course, you should be upping your intake of healthy foods such as fruit and vegetables, nuts, whole grains and oily fish – but it's still important to watch your portion sizes.

'It’s easy to think that just because a food is healthy you can eat as much as you like,' says Dr Sally Norton.

'But you can have too much of a good thing. You’re less likely to overdo it with healthy food because it helps regulate your appetite – but portion control should apply whatever you’re eating.'

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Your night-time tipple

A third of Brits admit they never stop to consider the calories in alcohol, according to the recent report by the Chilean Blueberry Committee.

But a pint of beer contains the same amount of calories as a large slice of pizza; a pint of cider is roughly equivalent to a sugary doughnut; and a large glass of wine tots up the same as a slice of sponge cake, warns Drinkaware.

Are you drinking more than you think?

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The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.