Condiments are one of those little things you don’t think about until they’re gone… then you really notice the difference. The golden rule of condiments is that they should enhance the flavor, not make or break the meal. Often the key isn’t to get rid of your favorite condiments, but rather to find healthier alternatives which are just as tasty!

Of course, not all condiments are created the same; some are good and others just be plain misbehavin’… the wrong choice of condiment can turn that healthy meal into something a lot less healthy. And don’t get me wrong, sometimes the worst ones for you are the best tasting ones too – at least until you reset your taste buds!

It’s not about deprivation, just moderation. That said, here are a few of the worst condiments and some healthier alternatives:

  • Ketchup

    Tomatoes! Pretty healthy, right? Well, unless you have an intolerance to nightshades, then yes! Unfortunately most brands of ketchup are pumped full of sugar, sodium and even high fructose corn syrup. Some redeeming qualities: vitamins A and C, lycopene, low calories and no fat. In fact, you can get low sodium and even sugar free ketchup – which typically use artificial sweeteners – but unfortunately, even with those changes, it still fares pretty poorly.

    We’d avoid mainstream ketchup completely, but don’t fret ketchup-lover, you can get some tasty organic ketchups or go one better and make your own healthy ketchup (2-minute ketchup for our time-strapped friends)!

  • Mayonnaise

    Mayo, mayo, mayo. Some people love you, others really, really don’t. Poor little mayo has picked up a pretty bad stigma over the years. Despite this, it’s actually not too bad health-wise… diet-wise, on the other hand, it’s terrible! Mayo is almost all fat, granted there are a lot of healthy fats in there, but it can sure rack up the calories quickly, so more than ever, moderation is the key!

    Of course, your mainstream mayo tends to contain those ‘little extras’ which can go against your goal of living a healthy life, e.g. EDTA and soybean oil (long latency effect of GMO’s anyone?)… Luckily, there are a few organic mayo’s you can get your hands on or make your own (it’s super-simple).

    Alternatively, you can swap it out with some clean-eating alternatives: avocado, Greek yogurt (this actually works so well) or even hummus.

  • Ranch dressing

    Now we’re talking, just pour on some of this… Hey, where’d all those extra calories come from? Ranch dressing, why’d you have to be so good and yet so, so, so very bad! As the most popular dressing you should be setting a healthy example. Look at this, you’re packed with sodium, you know you are! And what’s this? Mayonnaise and buttermilk? What are you trying to do to us?!

    Okay, seriously, ranch dressing (and most creamy salad dressings) is very calorific, so you need to moderate the heck out of them. The best thing about ranch dressing (apart from the sheer deliciousness) is that it can get you to eat more veggies and salads. The key with all creamy salad dressings is to dip not pour.

    Alternatively, if you’re going for fat loss, then switch it up with a vinaigrette (balsamic vinegar is awesome), Greek yogurt, mustard, hummus, guacamole or salsa, to name but a few. And if you’re feeling creative, make your own (use healthy mayo)!

  • Steak & BBQ sauce

    For a meat-eater there’s nothing quite like a smoky, hot BBQ sauce slathered on a succulent steak or rack of ribs. That sweet, smoky flavour… Of course, the reason why it’s so sweet is because most mainstream sauces are loaded with sugar. Way too many simple carbs to be good for clean-eating. Then there’s the high levels of sodium too. And some contain high-fructose corn sugar.

    Of course, you can always pick up low-carb versions, but as you’ve probably already realized, low-carb often suck health-wise – mainly because of the artificial sweeteners.

    Once again, ‘moderation’ is the name of the game: a dollop of sauce on your steak, rather than a slathering. If you want to go super-clean, try some Tabasco sauce, salsa or make your own

  • Soy sauce

    No, not soy sauce! It’s salty and great on California rolls. Mmm-mm. Part of the problem is that it is loaded with salt, but you can get reduced salt versions… And really, you’re probably getting an abundace of salt as it is. In Asia, most of the soy that is eaten is typically fermented and eaten in small amounts. In the West, soy mostly unfermented, heavily processed, packed full of phytoestrogens and in just about everything, from burgers to candy. In other words, you’re already probably eating a ton of soy.

    Not only that, but the little soybean is the most genetically modified crop in the world. 91% of the soy produced in the United States is genetically modified. Surprise! And to repeat, it’s in just about everything that isn’t a whole food. If you trust GMOs then knock yourself out, otherwise you may want to replace your soy sauce with an organic, fermented soy sauce.

  • Sour cream

    Oh yeah, nachos and cheese! Today is not going to be a clean-eating day. Everything in moderation including moderation, right? Okay, so sour cream is pretty calorific (about 60 calories in 2 tablespoons) so definitely not fat-loss friendly if it’s already being piled on a high-fat meal like nachos and cheese.

    Health-wise, those are some pretty healthy fats, so in moderation… well, you get the picture. If you want to lower the calories, replace the sour-cream with guacamole, hummus or for a super-low calorie alternative, salsa.

Phew! Those are probably the most common condiments with the potential to be bad for your health or your fat-loss goals. Moderation is the key.

Which condiment is your guilty pleasure? Let us know in the comments below!

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