by Brian Anderson
Some of the rules of a healthy diet are fairly obvious — steer clear of fast food joints, say “no” to fried foods, and keep the chips and cookies to a minimum. Unfortunately, eating smart involves more than just avoiding notoriously unhealthy foods.
These foods below pack on the pounds, zap energy, trigger inflammation, and crowd out the more nutritious foods in your diet. Do your best to banish these unhealthy foods from your diet.
Most brands of stick margarine are loaded with trans fat — the toxic fat that increases bad cholesterol, lowers good cholesterol, promotes clotting, and damages blood vessels. And, at 100 calories per tablespoon, this heartbreaker isn’t doing your waistline any good, either. As an alternative to stick margarine, use a small amount of whipped butter sold in tubs (more air means less fat and calories).
One hundred percent of the calories in regular soda come from sugar or high-fructose corn syrup — that’s why I call it “liquid candy.” In fact, these empty liquid calories are largely responsible for fueling our nation’s obesity epidemic. Drinking soda also damages your teeth and promotes cavity formation — and some studies show cola may weaken your bones. Instead of guzzling soft drinks to quench your thirst, try good old-fashioned water or naturally flavored seltzers (which have the same bubbly pop as soda!).
Whole milk is loaded with saturated fat, the type of fat that raises bad cholesterol levels, promotes inflammation, and may contribute to clogged arteries. Thanks to the extra fat, it’s also higher in calories than lower-fat milk. Do your heart and waistline a favor and switch to soy, almond or coconut milk — it’s one of the easiest changes you can make for a healthier diet.
Starchy white bagels — and flavored varieties like onion, garlic, poppy seed, and “everything” bagels — are made with refined wheat flour, which has been stripped of the fiber and nutrients that give whole grains their health benefits. That’s bad enough, but my biggest issue with bagels is that they’re incredibly dense, which means they’re also incredibly caloric. In fact, the standard bagel is the caloric equivalent of four to five slices of junky white bread. I much prefer whole-grain English muffins, bread, or sandwich thins, which offer a more appropriate portion of starch for one meal. For times when nothing but a real bagel will do, though, go for whole wheat or oat bran (fortunately, many stores now carry them), scoop out some of the bready filling on the inside, and top it with a thin spread of light cream cheese, or, better yet, heart-healthy nut butter.
Breakfast Toaster Pastries
Toaster pastries are one of the absolute worst breakfasts you could choose to start your day. They’re made with white flour and tons of added sugars (and, not surprisingly, the fruit flavors have almost no real fruit). A two-pack of toaster pastries can flood your system with almost ten teaspoons of sugar! That’s a surefire recipe for soaring sky-high blood sugars followed by a mid-morning energy crash. If you’re looking for a convenient, healthy replacement, try a mini whole-wheat pita pocket spread with a thin layer of peanut butter.
Up to 80 percent of the calories in regular hot dogs come from fat, and much of it is the unhealthy saturated type. Regularly eating processed meats like hot dogs has been linked to increased risk of heart disease and colon cancer. Swap out your hot dogs for lean chicken, turkey or GMO free soy sausages. You will get far less fat and more high-quality protein.
Movie-theater popcorn is a calorie and fat disaster! Most theaters pop their kernels in exorbitant quantities of coconut oil, which is more than 90 percent saturated fat (that’s the type of fat you should be trying to dramatically limit in your diet). Worse yet, portions are absolutely out of control! A medium size can be piled high with up to 20 cups of greasy popcorn, which will cost you 1,200 calories and 60 grams of saturated fat before you even factor in the buttery topping they automatically squirt on top of your tub. That’s the caloric equivalent of three large fast-food burgers — and the saturated fat equivalent of a full stick of butter! Ordering popcorn at theaters is a habit you definitely want to break. Instead, get your fix when you’re having movie night at home, and enjoy low-cal pretzels or bring your own healthy snacks.
The hallmark of deep-dish pizza is its thick, dense crust. Admittedly, it does taste great, but all that excess dough jacks up the calorie and carb count in your pie dramatically. Factor in the fattening, whole-milk cheese and greasy meat toppings like sausage, pepperoni, and bacon, and a two-slice serving could shock your system with about 1,300 calories and 24 grams of artery-clogging saturated fat (more than an entire day’s allowance). The good news is, you don’t have to swear off pizza completely: Order your pie with thin crust to cut out surplus starch, skip the meat toppers, and instead load on veggies like peppers, onions, mushrooms, and broccoli, which help fill you up and add a blast of nutrition. Follow these two simple guidelines and you can slim down your slice and enjoy it for less than 250 calories!
Here is a list of our links.