In our adult lives, most of us will go through a time when we’d like to lose a few pounds. Sometimes, we need to look no further than our daily food habits to find the problem that has caused our weight gain. To leave those unwanted pounds behind for good, there are some foods that need to be entirely avoided.
1. Energy Bars
There are several names for these: energy bar, protein bar and nutrition bar. They all sound healthy, and we generally find them in the “health food” section of the supermarket. However, while many of them do offer quick energy, they are not excellent food choices when you’re trying to shed a few pounds. One of the best-selling energy/nutrition bars on the market has 21 grams of sugar in it. There are some great ingredients in the bar, including whole oats and plant-based protein. But 21 grams of sugar is the same amount of sugar that you’ll find in many of the leading candy bars at the grocery checkout counter. It might not be so bad if said bar would fill you up like a meal. However, the sugar filled bar weighs only 2.4 ounces, which means it won’t be long before your body will require more fuel.
If you’re looking for a healthy snack, that will boost your energy and satisfy you for more than a half hour, try some organic apple slices dipped in sunflower seed butter. The naturally occurring fructose in the apple will provide quick energy with a low glycemic load. The glycemic load of a food indicates the amount of digestible carbohydrates in it. Sunflower seed butter is loaded with unsaturated fats, magnesium and B-vitamins, which will help stabilize your blood sugar and keep you feeling full for a while.
2. Sweetened Yogurt
If we learned any nutrition tips from the 1980s, it was that individual cups of fruit-on-the-bottom yogurt were the ultimate health food. While that clever marketing was helpful for dairy farmers and yogurt industry giants, it may not have been the best advice for consumers. First of all, much of the yogurt that’s mass marketed in stores has been pasteurized just before it hits the shelves. While pasteurization extends the shelf-life of the yogurt and improves the appearance, it also effectively kills any live cultures in the product. Aside from that, most yogurt products are loaded with added sugar. It’s not uncommon to see one small cup of vanilla yogurt with 32 grams of sugar in it. According to the American Heart Association (AHA), 32 grams is more refined sugar than we should consume in an entire day! Sweetened yogurt is not health food. It’s not a food to consider when trying to lose weight.
If you enjoy yogurt and have no aversion to dairy, seek out an organic, plain yogurt with less than 6 grams of sugar. These sugars are not added, but naturally occurring from the lactose in milk. Then, look for the term “cultured after pasteurization” on the label. Yogurt that is cultured after pasteurization will contain real, live cultures that promote a healthy gut. Serve this high-quality yogurt with fresh berries for a delicious, high protein treat.
3. Frozen Dinners
Perhaps one of the worst offenders on this list is the average frozen dinner. In reviewing these little time-saving trays of microwaveable meals, we found one that was particularly horrible. Sadly, it’s a top seller in the frozen meal category. It’s a classic fried chicken dinner with sides of vegetables and dessert. Not only does the single-serving, boxed meal weigh in at nearly 1,000 calories, it also has 45 grams of fat and a whopping 2,869 milligrams of sodium. The AHA recommends we limit our daily intake of sodium to less than 2,000 milligrams. These meals may be convenient, but they have no business on the grocery lists of health-conscious individuals.
If you need the convenience of frozen food but want to avoid the fat and sodium trap we displayed above, we’ve got a better idea. Take a bag of frozen, organic mixed vegetables and about a pound of peeled, deveined shrimp. Cook the shrimp for a couple of minutes ― until they are just pink. Set them aside. Cook the frozen vegetables for about three minutes, then add the shrimp back in and season everything at once. Cook together for a few more minutes, and you’ve got a high protein, high-fiber dinner in about the same amount of time it would take to heat that frozen nightmare in a box.
Ever hear of a cheese diet for optimal health and rapid weight loss? Yeah, neither did we. Cheese is one of those foods that needs to be avoided when you’re watching your weight. In fact, most cheeses have more than 100 calories per ounce and anywhere between 7 and 12 grams of saturated fat in one ounce. It also has lots of sodium and cholesterol.
When cheese is on your mind, and you want that flavor, try nutritional yeast. Pop some popcorn in the air popper and toss it in a bag with about a tablespoon of nutritional yeast and a small amount of salt. Nutritional yeast has a naturally cheesy flavor, and it’s also a good source of vitamin B12.
It’s not new information that pasta is no friend to the dieter, and for plenty of good reasons. Unless we’re talking about the whole wheat variety of pasta, which tastes like wet cardboard, is made of simple, refined grains. Pasta is in the category of foods with a high glycemic load. It’s not only bad for weight loss but equally crummy for your endocrine system and overall nutrition.
Since there are so many versatile recipes you can make with pasta, it’s worth finding a more healthful route. That’s where the vegetable spiralizer comes in handy. You can find them at kitchen stores and online. A vegetable peeler or julienne slicing tool will also work just fine. These gadgets can turn firm vegetables into pasta-like ribbons for nutritionally dense meals. Spiralize a large zucchini and cook it over medium heat with a little olive oil and seasonings for about five minutes. Add some marinara sauce or some herbs and lemon and serve it just like the real thing. Bonus: children will eat just about anything if it’s spiralized and tossed with a good sauce.
Nope – you can’t unread it. Pizza is not the best food for us. Just about every component of a pizza ― the soft white crust, greasy extra cheese and processed pepperoni ― none of it fits well in a healthy diet. All of those things will contribute to weight gain and poor nutrition. Going to a kid’s birthday party? Pack some trail mix so that you aren’t too tempted because pizza is not on the diet.
We’ve got a couple of ways for you to enjoy the flavor of pizza without the associated bloating. One is to buy or make a cauliflower pizza crust and top it with organic marinara sauce and an assortment of fresh vegetables. Bake it at 450 degrees Fahrenheit until the toppings are cooked to your liking and serve. Another option is to use a whole grain or sprouted grain tortilla as your crust. For this route, you’ll top it and bake at just 425F. In either case, if you want to add a cheesy flavor, sprinkle a little nutritional yeast on the top of your super healthy pizza.
7. Cereal & Granola Bars
You’ve probably seen the ads. National cereal brands are always billing their latest cereal varieties as health food. Same story with the granola bars, mini muffins and breakfast bars that contain unnatural amounts of fiber and promise to flatten our stomachs. Those marketing techniques don’t fool us. Many of the leading brands of “healthy” cereals and packaged snacks contain all sorts of ingredients we can’t pronounce and a hefty load of refined carbohydrates.
Instead of an energy bar, consider a homemade trail mix. Combine pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds and unsweetened, dried or dehydrated fruit to make a hunger-satisfying snack. Make a large batch and divide it into several small snack-size bags so that they’re handy when you’re on the go. You’ll find a solid trail mix will curb your hunger longer than cereal or granola bars.
8. Soda, Energy Drinks & Juice
Chances are good that if you’re reading an article like this, you’ve already ditched the soda habit. Congratulations. Be sure to avoid the ever-popular energy drinks too. Not only do these beverages contain way too much caffeine, but they usually also contain sugar or artificial sweeteners, artificial colors and other nonnutritive ingredients. Although the term “100% juice” may sound perfectly healthy, drinking such juice often can cause weight gain as well. It’s extra sugar and extra calories without the naturally occurring fiber found in whole fruit. Avoid soda, energy drinks and juice if you’re trying to lose weight.
If you’re already getting enough water in your diet, and you like a little variety, try some naturally flavored, unsweetened sparkling water. Other good options include naturally flavored green tea or iced hibiscus tea.
9. Blended Coffee & Smoothies
Business meetings, date nights and quality time with friends often occur at coffee shops, these days. But don’t let the location become an excuse to overindulge with a sugar-filled cup of iced, blended calories.
There are plenty of other drink options available at most cafés. Try an unsweetened iced fruit tea or a nice hot cup of decaf with a splash of coconut cream.
During the past decade, we’ve heard a lot about how red wine is excellent for our health because of its high antioxidant content. That claim has long been used as a free pass for some people to imbibe a little too often. At around 100 calories per glass, red wine isn’t the best choice for those of us trying not to gain weight.
If you’re looking for the antioxidant benefits of red wine, try sipping a cup of organic green tea. Green tea has a similar antioxidant level as red wine, without the calories.
So, go ahead and use a black permanent marker when you cross these items off your grocery list. Clean out the pantry and toss these sugary, fatty and otherwise nutritionally deficient foods from your kitchen.
Now try this: Turn your head to the left, then to the right. Repeat this exercise every time you’re offered something to eat that made the above list. As they say at the gym, “Junk food satisfies you for a minute. Being fit satisfies you for life.
If you want to know what foods will help you shape up and shed inches while providing natural cure to illnesses, then click here to check out the Best Foods That Rapidly Slim & Heal In 7 Days program.