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Odunayo Abdulai: These 8 Foods Are “Healthy” but Are Surprisingly Highly Calorific

Many people believe that once a food is healthy, it’s automatically zero-calorie or low calories. This is absolutely false. This belief has resulted in many consuming too much of a good thing, resulting in them consuming way too many calories.

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To be honest, I’m glad eating healthy is now a thing. Beyond simply trying to keep up with trends, it was something that needed to happen, and I’m glad we’ve woken up. Not only is the general public now more aware of their lifestyle conditions, it’s the case for much younger people now, too. I now have diabetic clients who are in their 20s. So, no, you are not too young.

That said, there has been some rather unfortunate misconception that “eating healthy” is automatically equivalent to “weight loss.” This has left many frustrated and in dismay, thinking about their failure in successfully shedding the excess kilos.

You see, weight loss is dependent on how many calories you are consuming. Such that even when the calories are from healthy foods, if it’s more than you need, you’ll still gain weight. Weight loss only occurs when you consume less calories than your body needs.

Many people believe that once a food is healthy, it’s automatically zero-calorie or low calories. This is absolutely false. This belief has resulted in many consuming too much of a good thing, resulting in them consuming way too many calories.

There are a number of healthy foods that are particularly high in calories, and you need to be aware, to guide how much you consume. But before I go on, let’s estimate the daily calorie intake for someone trying to lose weight as 1500cal, which is about 500cal per meal, if they eat thrice a day. This will help you put the numbers below in proper perspective.

I remember when they became so popular, they were like the holy grail of healthy diets. They can be a healthy addition, but you need only a small amount. The calories vary based on the exact recipe, but on an average, a cup has a whopping 450cal. That’s why I recommend you use them as garnishes in your yoghurt, for example, but not as a cereal in itself, to reduce how much you consume. Some of us also need to curb the habit of eating them mindlessly as a snack. You can easily consume all your calories for lunch without realising it. The calories in them come mainly from the nuts and dried fruits they commonly contain.

This is one amazing food, popularly found in salads. Some fans of it eat it alone as a snack. It is rich in healthy fats, but fats are fats, and fats are high in calorie. A medium sized avocado has about 320cal, and I know people who eat a whole one in one sitting. You know yourselves.

Just like the avocado, they are rich in healthy fats. From groundnuts to cashews, almonds and pistachios, they are a healthy addition to any diet. However, you need only a little amount. Twenty groundnuts have about 100cal. Imagine that, just twenty. To put it in perspective, two small oranges is also equivalent to 100cal. Now compare two oranges to twenty groundnuts.

Dried fruit
With the aim of upping fruit intake, some have opted for dried fruit. While they can be highly nutritious, they are calorie bombs. Dried fruits are simply fresh fruits that have had all their water content drained, making them shrink pretty significantly. This means you could eat two whole pineapples without realising it. But in its fresh state, you likely will never finish it.

Peanut butter
Very healthy, like the nut it is gotten from. That’s for brands that don’t load it with sugar, though. But added sugar or not, they are pretty high in calories, with just a tablespoon averaging a whopping 90cal.

Regardless of how fresh they are, they can easily get you in a calorie surplus if you don’t take care. Just like the dried fruits, drinking juices can have you consuming a lot more fruits than you imagine. A 500ml bottle of freshly squeezed orange juice is about 240cal; a bottle of Coke is 210cal. So if the juice is replacing your coke in a bid to lose weight, I’m sorry to bust your bubble. Don’t get me wrong , the juice is better than the coke, because at least it has nutrients to offer, unlike the Coke that’s sugar plus nothing else. But in terms of losing weight, you need to check those liquid calories.

Olive oil
Regardless of how healthy any oil is, it’s still high-calorie. A teaspoon (5mls) of oil has 45cal, which is why you need just a little in your cooking. Fried foods and generally oily foods are what’s robbing some people of achieving their weight-loss goals. What makes any oil healthy isn’t in the number of calories, but in how it affects your blood cholesterol levels, and the health benefits it has to offer.

Banana Bread
This one right here is another holy grail of the healthy eating trend. It is nutritious, thanks to the ingredients used in making it, but you best believe that it’s higher in calories than your regular bread. The crazy part is that many of us eat it like cake because it’s so nice. So, if weight loss is your goal, you really want to rethink the quantity you are consuming. A slice is about 200cal, while a slice of white bread and wheat bread are about 100cal and 80cal respectively. For most people, one to one and a half slices of banana bread is enough, in combination with other parts of your meal.

I’ll end here for today. I hope this has been eye-opening, revealing some of the things you might have been doing or eating wrong. Let me know your thoughts, and if you have questions for me, feel free to leave it in the comments.

Odunayo Abdulai is a first-class graduate of Pharmacy, certified nutritionist, and the founder/CEO of OptimumFoodie, an innovative nutrition and fitness company based in Lagos. Through her programs and book, she’s helped 1000s of women and men achieve their body and health goals eating Nigerian meals. Kindly visit

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