Food Mistakes: 10 Smoothie Bowl Blunders

Article posted in: Diet & Nutrition
food mistakes

If there’s one healthy trend that has dominated your Pinterest and Instagram feeds the past two years, it’s avocado toast. But if there are TWO, the other is smoothie bowls. And no wonder! Those gorgeous, pastel bowls striped with delicious toppings don’t just look incredible in a social media post, but they can be loaded with leafy greens to prevent disease, fruits to deliver vitamins and key nutrients and healthy fats that can help reduce belly fat and keep you feeling full. They make excellent choices for snacks or Flex meals on the Nutrisystem program. But these delicious and nutritious bowls can also be packed with calories, sugar and fat, making them one of the worst sources of food mistakes you could make.

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Watch out for these 10 sneaky food mistakes and stay on track while spooning that beautiful smoothie bowl:

1. Don’t overdo the portions!


Smoothie bowls can be too much of a good thing, and overeating is the ultimate in food mistakes. You’re putting all these delicious, healthy ingredients together, so it seems like you can’t possibly go overboard. But you can. Remember that high-calorie ingredients look smaller when blended down, but they’re just as packed with calories. Instead of winging it, try following a recipe and measuring your ingredients—these six delicious bowls are a great place to start. Once you’ve got the feel for it and want to ad-lib, keep on measuring: Use the Grocery Guide to make sure each ingredient is in the right portion to keep your progress on track.

2. Measure your toppings, too.

Breakfast bowl

The striped, swirled, colorful toppings on a smoothie bowl are what make them so Instagram-able, but they’re also often the highest-calorie ingredients in the dish, which is why overdoing it on toppings tops our list of the worst food mistakes you can make. If you go overboard with these, calories can add up fast: Sliced almonds, for example, have 46 calories in a tablespoon, according to the United State Department of Agriculture. Add two extra spoonfuls for a perfect swirl, and you’ve added almost 100 calories to your bowl. Measure those toppings!

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3. Don’t skip the greens!

Green smoothie bowl

Don’t worry, they won’t spoil the color—or the flavor. Blending a cup of kale, spinach or other leafy greens into your smoothie means the taste of the greens will be masked by the fruits and other ingredients with stronger flavors, but you’ll still get all the goodness the greens contain. They’re loaded with vitamin C and vitamin A, and are packed with antioxidants that reduce inflammation and ward off cancer. Leafy greens are also rich in water content, which can help you lose weight: When women in a study conducted by Penn State added water-rich foods like this to their diet, they lost 30 percent more weight over six months than those who didn’t focus on adding water-rich foods to their meals.

Try blending in one cup of spinach leaves, kale or Swiss chard—or even more: They’re all unlimited foods on Nutrisystem, so you can have as big a portion as you like without falling off plan.

4. Don’t fill the bowl with too much fruit.

food mistakes

Fruit is great for you. It’s packed with fiber to keep you full and vitamins your body needs. But too much of it can come at a high calorie cost: One cup of pineapple chunks, for instance, has 141 calories, according to the USDA. Just as with the “unhealthy” ingredients, make sure you’re following the recipe on fruit, or weighing and measuring to match the Grocery Guide.

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5. Don’t overflow it with fat.

food mistakes

As if you needed an excuse to eat more avocado: Monounsaturated fats, like those found in nuts and avocado, have been shown to help you lose belly fat, according to a 2013 study. Other studies have shown that the green wonder can also help control your cholesterol. And like all healthy fats, those found in avos can help you feel full faster than carbs, and stay feeling full for longer.

So what’s the problem? Fats are the most efficient delivery method for calories: When you eat a gram of fat, it’s got nine calories. Protein and carbs are both about four calories per gram. So when you add more of a healthy fat, the calories add up faster—so it’s super important to measure to avoid making a few basic food mistakes.

6. And don’t skimp on protein.

food mistakes

Even at four calories per gram, protein provides lots of the same belly-filling benefits as healthy fats: It digests slowly, so you stay feeling full longer. And it can also help your body build lean muscle, which burns more calories at rest than fat does, which can cause small increases in your overall metabolism.

So don’t leave healthy protein sources out of your smoothie bowl! Nonfat Greek yogurt can give the bowl some thickness and creamy texture. Milk can help make it smooth. And protein powder can add flavors—like strawberry or chocolate—without undue added calories for sweetness.

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7. Go easy on the sweeteners.

food mistakes

Before you add any extra sweetness to your bowl, make sure you actually need it: Most smoothie bowl recipes, like this Vanilla Berry Grapefruit Delight, have lots of fruit for sweetness. But if a recipe doesn’t satisfy without the sweet add-ins, try replacing the sweetener with a non-calorie, natural alternative like Stevia, or a flavored protein powder. Using these will help reduce the amount of agave syrup, maple syrup or just plain sugar that goes into your smoothie bowl.

8. You don’t give yourself anything to chew.

food mistakes

You may have heard that “a calorie is a calorie,” so when it comes to your weight, a calorie of cake is the same as a calorie of broccoli. That may be true, but the format of your calories can affect how much you eat later in the day. A 2007 study from The Journal of Nutrition and Dietetics found that when people consumed calories as liquid early in the day, they ate 12 to 20 percent more calories later in the day than they did on days when they had something to chew on in the morning. Another study from 2014 found an even simpler result: More chewing means less food eaten.

Make sure your smoothie bowl isn’t TOO smooth: Instead of blending in all your blueberries, save a few and drop them in at the end. Or be certain that one or more of your toppings has a little crunch. This can help slow your eating, which can result in fewer calories eaten, which means you’ll avoid one of the most common food mistakes: Overeating.

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9. Don’t use juice as a base.

food mistakes

If your smoothie bowl isn’t going to taste right with dairy, don’t switch to juice as your sole liquid base. You could wind up making one of the most common food mistakes—adding far more sugar and calories than you need. Orange juice, for instance, has 112 calories in just one cup. That’s more than you’ll get from a whole small orange.

If you’re not using milk or yogurt and think your smoothie bowl is a bit too thick, add a splash of water. And if you must use juice, check the Grocery Guide to make sure you’re using a healthy portion.

10. You keep eating it, even if you don’t like it.

food mistakes

A smoothie bowl shouldn’t just be a treat for your eyes, but a tasty way to enjoy fruits, vegetables and healthy fats. If you aren’t enjoying it, though, it’s not worth it—and it may actually impact how much of those nutrients you actually use. In a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, researchers found that when food was presented in a less palatable format, subjects absorbed less iron than when the food’s format was more appetizing.

So if you make a gorgeous smoothie bowl but don’t enjoy it, don’t finish it. Listening to your body and reacting to how food really makes you feel means you’re eating more mindfully, a process that has been shown in studies to increase weight loss success without requiring a focus on calories. Eating a calorie-heavy meal that you don’t like could also leave you feeling unsatisfied—which can lead to more inadvertent food mistakes.