Popular condiments such as ketchup, mayonnaise and many sauces contain high amounts of sugar, salt and fat; you might be adding extra calories to even the healthiest salad or entree without even realizing it!
However, there are several ways to cut back on the condiments and still enjoy your dish with some tasty alternatives. Here are some tips to help you avoid diet sabotage:
The Unhealthy Condiments List
Beware of the following condiments next time you want to add some flavor to your dish:
Regular mayonnaise is full of fat and contains large amounts of sugar and salt. Avoid adding mayonnaise to your sandwiches, salads and other foods; look for a fat-free or light version whenever possible.
A condiment that's loaded with sugar and extra salt, ketchup can be an addictive condiment that accompanies nearly every dish. However, you can find low-sugar versions of ketchup at the grocery store that will help you cut down those extra calories with ease.
Tartar sauce contains mayonnaise, pickled cucumbers, onions and capers, which means it contains a high level of unsaturated fat and sodium.
Many creamy salad dressings are made with calorie-laden mayonnaise, oil and sugar. Make sure you read the label of your favorite salad dressing to find out what it is made of and search for a low-fat or fat-free version instead. Alternatively, you can skip the dressing altogether and season your salad with lemon juice, olive oil or balsamic vinaigrette.
Gravies and sauces that often accompany meat dishes are full of extra salt and butter. Skip the gravy and stick with pepper and a dash of salt to season your meat dishes so you can save those calories and ward off excess pounds.
Italian dishes offer a wide array of garnishes and sauces. Marinara sauce makes a great spread for breads, plus a great topper for pastas, while being virtually fat-free and chock-full of veggies. However, like ketchup, this tomato-based condiment can pack added sugar, so be careful to check labels. On the other end of the spectrum, we have alfredo sauce -- which is far from amore if you're watching your weight. Cream and butter make the base of this sauce, with salty parmesan and other cheeses to add flavor. That makes for a calorie-busting dish that'll cost you up to 1,000 calories and 1,500 mg of sodium at some restaurants.
Pesto makes for a good choice when eating Italian, but it, too, can be high in fat and sodium. This herbaceous sauce is olive oil-based, so while it's high in "good" monounsaturated fat, it's still fat. And again, that cheese adds a few salt grams to a pesto-based dish, so go easy.
More Healthy Alternatives to Condiments
You can spice up and season your food with condiments when you know what to avoid - and what to reach for instead. Condiments such as mustard, rice wine vinegar, balsamic vinegar and low-sodium salt are healthy alternatives to the typical condiments.
To make your food more flavorful, you can also use natural herbs and spices to season your dish instead of salt. Some great-tasting spices and seasonings to add to your food include curry powder, ginger, lemon rind, rosemary, basil and bay leaves. You might need to do some extra work to find these, but your efforts will pay off.
Healthier choices in condiments do not contain any fat, and in some cases, are calorie-free. You can still enjoy your favorite dish and enhance its flavor without sabotaging your diet by saying no to condiments made with mayonnaise, sugar and oils and sticking with lighter and fat-free versions of your favorites instead.