If you're choosing your meals carefully and exercising on a regular basis but still not seeing the scale move, there's something you may not have considered: Some foods and beverages carry a lot of hidden calories-so you could be consuming hundreds of extra calories a day without even knowing it. Read on for some of the worst offenders.

Coffee creamer. If you make just three trips to the office coffeepot daily, you could be significantly adding to your calorie total. Why? That innocuous-looking little container of creamer. According to the Center for Science in the Public Interest, a nutrition and food-safety advocacy group, the nutrition label on coffee creamer may indicate a serving size as having 10 calories, but most people put in a tablespoon-considerably more than a serving.  Even if you use artificial sweetener instead of sugar, the creamer alone could be adding more than 100 extra calories to your diet. Bring in your own small container of skim or 1 percent milk so you can indulge when you want to.

Granola. It sounds healthy, but don't be fooled. Between the crushed-up nuts and plenty of added sugar, many commercial brands are hiding somewhere around 500 calories a cup. Add a cup of 2 percent milk to that, and you've got a 600-plus-calorie breakfast. A better bet? Try one of the lower-calorie cereals on the market that mix flakes with small amounts of nuts or "clusters." Or try egg whites, a bowl of oatmeal, and fresh fruit. You'll be more satisfied for about half the calories.

Salad dressing. It's easy to think you're being virtuous by ordering a salad for lunch, but if it's drowned in dressing you could end up consuming more calories than if you'd gotten a fast-food burger. The American Cancer Society recommends ordering dressing on the side so you can control the amount you eat. It also suggests steering clear of other fatty salad toppers like bacon bits, cheese, and mayonnaise-laden items like tuna or chicken salad. You do need some healthful fats with your meal, however, so go for a few avocado slices or sliced almonds.

Smoothies. How can fruit and a little yogurt be bad for you? The problem is that the typical smoothies sold at national chains are huge and loaded not only with fruit but often with sugar and sometimes frozen yogurt or ice cream. They're hiding hundreds of calories yet don't even provide you with the satisfaction of chewing on a piece of fruit. If you like the creaminess of a smoothie, you can make your own at home. Throw in a serving or two of your favorite fruit, a little ground flax or wheat germ, skim milk, a spoonful or two of yogurt, ice cubes, and blend well. Or buy the yogurt smoothies sold in the dairy section of your local supermarket. They come in pre-portioned bottles, and you can find many good varieties for fewer than 200 calories.


Sources: American Cancer Society, www.cancer.org, Center for Science in the Public Interest, www.cspinet.org