There’s a gleaming high-rise building in Manhattan that’s home to some of the richest and most beautiful people in New York City. It’s also home to a health-food market, where you’ll often see women in the aisles wearing Lululemon, sampling chia-seed juice out of tiny paper cups, and cradling tubs of quinoa salad and bags of kale chips. Some of them will eventually find that, despite their irreproachable grocery lists, their jeans start to pinch at the waist.
There is a great dieting irony that’s becoming more and more apparent in our current health-obsessed culture: Foods that pack nutritional benefits may also pack on the pounds. “There’s a health halo surrounding this stuff, so people don’t pay attention to the calories—they eat and eat and think the calories will just disappear,” says Lisa Young, an adjunct professor of nutrition, food studies, and public health at New York University. These foods may also be loaded with sugar (green juice, for example), or carbohydrates (whole grains), or fat (nuts). “If you add something to your diet, even if it’s something healthy, you have to take something out to make up for it, or you’re going to gain weight,” she points out. So put down that bag of tamari almonds and read on.Hummus
"If I open a container of hummus, I finish it," says Molly Calhoun, 36, a writer who is a vegetarian. "Sometimes I don’t even bother with baby carrots or crackers; I just eat it with a spoon like it’s yogurt." Hummus is so high in calories, in fact, that it’s often one of the first things Stephen Gullo, a New York City health psychologist, eliminates from his patients’ diets. "But it has protein!" they protest. The chickpea spread also has 70 calories in two tablespoons—but who stops there?—and that’s not even counting the vehicle you choose to dip with. "If you’re a person who, based on your history, can have just one or two tablespoons of hummus and leave it at that, then it works for you," says Gullo. "But if you know you’re going to eat a cup of it, you’re going to end up wearing it on your waist." Try one of Walden Farms’ zero-calorie vegetable dips instead.Grapes
The calories here aren’t a problem, but these little pellets of sweetness aren’t innocuous. A cup of grapes has 15 grams of sugar. To put that into perspective, three Oreo cookies have 14 grams. Plus, “it’s hard to feel satisfied until you’ve inhaled an entire bunch of grapes,” says Cena Jackson, 36, a public relations director for Hermès. For the record, that’s around 310 calories and 75 grams of sugar. One way Jackson averts disaster is by freezing grapes before she snacks; the frozen ones take longer to chew, so she naturally eats fewer of them.