FAT FOOD TRAP: Bread
Bread-lovers in the study discovered that it was easy to eat too much of that food in a single sitting. If you can't live without sandwiches, then you should have them, but try to splurge on only those couple of slices of bread a day. Bread isn't evil; it just tends to be hard to control for people who love it.
WHAT TO EAT INSTEAD: Grains
Slice your protein or veggies over grains including whole-wheat pasta, wild rice, couscous, or quinoa.
FAT FOOD TRAP: Fruit-flavored yogurt
When Weight Watchers asked 10,000 dieters to eat wholesome foods — like grains, vegetables, dairy, and lean protein — they saw that people often ate four containers of low-fat yogurt a day if the fruit was mixed in. But if the subjects had to stir in the fruit themselves, they stopped at only one cup.
WHAT TO EAT INSTEAD: Plain, nonfat yogurt — you add fresh fruit
Mixing in fruit yourself is enough to prevent you from mindless overeating, says Karen Miller-Kovach, R.D., chief scientific officer for Weight Watchers International and head of the healthy-eating program.
FAT FOOD TRAP: Breakfast cereal — even the healthy kind
The same Weight Watchers study also showed that people who ate cereal right out of the box as a snack tended to munch on way too much of it in a day. Even healthy, high-fiber cereals can up the day's calorie count and halt people's weight loss.
WHAT TO EAT INSTEAD: Eat cereal only with milk
This combination also decreases the meal's "calorie density" — an ounce of cereal with milk (skim, of course) has fewer calories than an ounce of cereal alone, so you'll take in fewer calories but still feel just as satisfied.
FAT FOOD TRAP: White rice
It takes more white rice than brown to make you feel just as satisfied. That's because white rice contains no fiber — a food component that helps you feel full. White pasta also tends to be fiber-free and less filling than whole wheat.
WHAT TO EAT INSTEAD: Brown rice
You might eat only 50 or 60 fewer calories when you make the switch to brown rice or pasta, but that can be enough to make a difference in weight loss, says Miller-Kovach.
FAT FOOD TRAP: 1 percent cottage cheese
At first, study participants tried incorporating low-fat, not just nonfat, products. "We don't know whether this higher-fat cottage cheese affected weight loss because of the little bit of fat it contains, or because people ate more of it," says Miller-Kovach.
WHAT TO EAT INSTEAD: Nonfat cottage cheese
Eating only the fat-free version allowed people in the study to continue losing extra weight.
FAT FOOD TRAP: Sugar-free hot chocolate
People who tried to satisfy their sweet cravings with sugar-free hot chocolate ended up drinking as many as five cups a day. "People would keep a mug on their desk and sip all day long, because they didn't think of the cocoa as a 'bad' food," says Miller-Kovach. But, of course, the calories add up.
WHAT TO EAT INSTEAD: Diet chocolate pudding
People who ate this instead of drinking cocoa stopped after a single serving, she says. "I think that people see pudding as a treat. They use it to satisfy the occasional sweet tooth, not to snack on all day."