Yummy in my tummy, but not funny … The pitfalls of common foods.

As seen in the Odessa American’s “Medical Matters”:


by Dr. Varuna Nargunan, is with ProCare Endocrinology in Odessa, TX. She is Board Certified in Diabetes, Endocrinology and Metabolism and also Board Certified in Internal Medicine. http://procareodessa.com/varuna-nargunan-m-d/

What is a healthy food? How can you tell if you are making the right choices? Following are a few examples of foods that you need to be aware of how the carbs can add up.

Breath Fresheners

Once a colleague asked me, “I like these peppermints. Are they bad for you?” The breath mints that he was consuming only had 5 grams (20 calories) of carbs in each one. However, his secretary said that he pops about 30 of them each day. That adds up to 150 grams (600 calories)! Hmmmm … so much for a Low Carb/Low Calorie diet! 

Chewing Gum

Chewing gum may have a few as three grams of carbs (12 calories) each. What is the daily limit of carbs and calories you need to stay within? How many sticks of that gum do you chew each day? Remember that the small amounts of carbs and calories all add into your daily total intake. 


Tomatoes are a good food choice. However, tomato sauce/ketchup has added sugars and more preservatives. Sundried tomatoes have higher carb content of 32 grams (132 calories) per cup. Compare this to the option of fresh tomatoes that have seven grams of carbs (32 calories) in a cup. The reason is that in the sundried option, the tomatoes are shrunk but concentrated. Since they have a smaller volume, you may eat more of them … which, in turn, results in higher intake of carbs and calories. 

Fruits and Veggies

A similar analogy applies to fruits and fruit juices. You should eat fruits in full portions, but drink juices in smaller portion. One small box of raisins gives 125 calories. This is equal to eating two cups of whole grapes, which is a more filling option.

An avocado has 300 calories. Will you count it as a snack or a meal? Any root vegetable (beets, potatoes, artichokes, etc.) will have high carbohydrates. Be mindful of that when choosing your vegetables to eat. 

Green veggies are low carb and good for you. Celery, when eaten alone, is awesome. But, celery with peanut butter …hmmm…? How much peanut butter? One tablespoon of peanut butter will add 100 calories, which is equal to eating butter in the same amount.


Beans have high protein and are good to consume. However, they are high in carbs. 

Chicken is good for protein intake. However, consider how it is prepared and cooked.  The breading and battering that is often added is not good. Additionally, consider how it is cooked. Was it fried (not good) or baked (good) or grilled (good)?

While nuts such as pecans are a great source of protein, heart-healthy fat and lots of vitamins and minerals, they are also rich in calories. A one-ounce serving of pecan halves contains 196 calories. Stick to a single handful of this healthy snack to reap the benefits without packing on pounds.


Salads are an awesome, healthy choice to make. But don’t let all of those dressings make it not be a good choice after all. One tablespoon of dressing can have 80 calories! You can make your own lighter versions of your favorite dressings at home.


It is an obvious fact that sodas have high sugar. People always ask the question, “What about diet soda?” Please remember that diet soda is equally bad for your health. They have a different form of sugar, which breaks down to glucose at the end.   

Protein Bars 

Protein bars are easy to grab and eat and they are a good source of protein. However, they are also pumped up with lots of sugar … designed for the athletic people who work out so much. We always say, “Snack on nuts rather than crackers or protein bars.” And did you know that there are even better options among the nut choices? For example, pecans have lower carbs than the higher-carb cashews.  

Is a wrap better than a sandwich?

Not really. Wraps have similar carb content but with added fat in the tortilla to keep it soft. Mayonnaise may be a sandwich staple, but spreading just two tablespoons on your bread adds an extra 180 calories to your lunch. 


Greek yogurt has double the protein and 1/2 the carbs than regular yogurt. But how often do we eat the yogurt plain without adding some sweetened topping?


Noodles are fine as a meal, but high calorie for a snack.

Some things to remember:

  1. Think twice before you pick your food. 
  2. Reduce the quantity of food, if you can. Even healthy food in higher volume is not good.
  3. Fix your meal rather than eating out. It will be healthier.
  4. Pick fresh fruit options rather than dried fruits such as raisins or dates.
  5. Watch out for your toppings, dressings and spreads. Most of these are not calorie free. 
  6. All of the food and drink you consume will add up to your total calorie intake.

Please eat healthy to stay healthy!