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Here's how to sabotage your otherwise healthy choices.

Zee Krstic
January 08, 2018

Putting a healthy, balanced meal on the table isn’t always an easy feat, especially during the hectic work week. While there are some time-saving dishes that come together in 20 minutes or less, you don’t want to unravel all the hard work you put into making a wholesome meal by making an unintentional error.

New Year. New Food. Healthy eating starts here, with the Cooking Light Diet.

If you truly want to reduce calories or reap the rewards the healthy food you make, you might want to think twice about these little things that could sabotage your health goals.

RELATED: Ditch-Store Bought Condiments For These Healthier Alternatives 

You pour on the salt

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This is a sure way to nix health benefits—a few flicks of the wrist and suddenly your healthy dish is a hidden sodium bomb. Each of our low-sodium recipes is carefully constructed for delicious flavor without blowing your suggested daily intake of 2,400mg a day.

You’re not seeking out low-sodium sauces

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Are you using ingredients with higher sodium levels than necessary? If a recipe calls for the addition of soy sauce, you can reap even more heart-health benefits if you use a low-sodium variety.

You’re blowing your calories on drinks

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That healthy quinoa toss isn’t doing much good if you’re drinking a large soda with it. Sugary or boozy drinks can negate benefits you’d normally reap from enjoying a healthy meal—but if you don’t want to just drink water, stick to unsweetened tea or flavored sparkling water, or make a fizzy soda substitute. And if it’s dinnertime, keep your wine and alcoholic beverages in check.

You get seconds (or thirds)

A kale salad is great, but that doesn’t mean you have carte blanche to double (or triple) your portion size. Sticking to a single serving ensures you’re not doubling up on calories, fat, sugar, or sodium. If you’re still feeling peckish, try a healthy snack before your next meal—or one of these tips to avoid a fourth meal altogether.

You’re overusing condiments

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Healthy condiments can jazz up even the most boring meal, but adding an extra dollop of mayonnaise or creamy sauce will definitely increase your sodium, calorie and fat intake. Make your own healthy alternatives to store-bought condiments and use them sparingly.

You drown your greens in dressing

Elizabeth Laseter

Salad dressings are essential, and there’s no way we’d tell you not to use them, but bottled dressings can overwhelm the power of your greens if you’re too heavy handed. For a healthier salad, portion out single serving or a make homemade dressing at home.

You love the deep fryer

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A pan-fried salmon fillet can certainly be a delicious weeknight dinner, but baked salmon would be even healthier (and taste great, too!) Using ample amounts of oil or butter to fry or saute can quickly add up calories—try steaming, grilling, baking, or using a sous vide to scale back on fat.

Your salad has more toppings than produce

Photo: Caitlin Bensel

If you’re enjoying a lunchtime salad, adding handfuls of cheese, bacon, and creamy dressing on top of your greens probably won’t work in your favor. Looking for crunch? Add in raw veggies or apple slices. Want to add some richness? Try sprinkling on olives, anchovies, or a tablespoon of pungent cheese—like feta or extra sharp cheddar—bold flavors mean a little goes a long way.

Carbs are your BFF

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Robust stews and warming soups make for a delicious and satisfying meal choice, but think twice about ladling it into a carby bread bowl. Instead, have a side of toast, or top your soup with parmesan crisps for a low-carb option. Love a big bowl of pasta? Try subbing out noodles for spiralized zucchini or bulking your pasta up with extra veggies.