Eating is becoming more and more complicated and eating healthy doubly so. You might think you’re nourishing yourself with items from all the major food groups, but not all of them are good for you. Here are the foods to cut back on. And what to replace them with.
Even in this age of information, it’s sometimes difficult to know what is good to eat and what foods to cut back on at all costs. The fine print is there and you might be loading up on too much sugar or sodium, without even being aware of it. Every day, a new study emerges, singing the praises or some food, that was considered a risk to health not so long ago. Or a study that proves that something you thought was very good for you is actually bad.
It can be confusing. When there are such contradictory studies about coffee or chocolate, for instance. But there are some things that are clearly better than others. Here are some foods you should cut back on. And what you should replace them with in your meal plan.
4 foods to cut back on for healthier meals
1. Canned or dried fruit
Fruit is naturally sweet, it’s basically nature’s dessert. But a lot of the dried or canned fruit out there has a lot of sugar or sugar-based flavor enhancers. The latter one is a name the food industry came up with to make sugar sound less threatening. When it comes to dried fruit, think about it. A serving of dehydrated fruit has way more fruit than the original, “hydrated” ones, which means a big upgrade on the calories front too.
Replace with: Berries. They are a fine replacement for a trail mix and they will leave you completely satisfied after eating. Not to mention that they are wonderfully healthy. Blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, and strawberries are loaded with antioxidants. And according to some studies, they reduce the risk of heart disease and dementia. Plus, they’re pretty low on calories.
2. Fruity yogurt
The “pieces of fruit” in those flavored yogurts are hardly fruit anymore. Plus, the sweet taste of the fruity yogurts usually come from added sweeteners. Run even farther away if the yogurt claims to be low-fat. Every dairy product that has the fat removed is going to wreak havoc on your figure in other ways. Most flavored yogurts contain about 6.5 teaspoons of sugar, which is too much by far! So long as we’re here, get rid of yogurt you can drink because it doesn’t keep you satisfied and you’ll soon be looking for something to munch on. Chewing helps you with feeling full.
Replace with: Greek yogurt. And you can actually make your own fruity yogurt by chopping some fruit and mixing it in with your Greek yogurt. That’s how you know that there are no sugary surprises inside. You get twice the protein over normal yogurt and less fat!
3. “Fresh” juice
Don’t touch that OJ! Even if the label promises that it was made from real fruit. Odds are it’s a lie and you’re just drinking a lot of sugar and other unhealthy compounds, like artificial sweeteners. These drinks are in fact so processed, that they’ve lost most of their nutrients and are in fact empty calories. Even if you make your own juice, it’s best to cut back on that. Juicing something means wasting the great dietary fiber found in fruit.
Replace with: Fruit smoothies. Make the smoothies out of frozen or fresh fruit and you’ll get the fiber, you’ll get the satisfaction and all the nutrients in one vibrantly-colored glass!
4. Starchy vegetables
Things like peas, potatoes, corn, pumpkin, squash, and yams have fewer nutrients and less fiber than other veggies and that's why they're some of the foods to cut back on. Not only that, they also mean that you’ll be having more calories with that meal. They’re also higher in carbs. So if you don’t want to cut them from your diet, at least have them earlier in the day so that they can be metabolized.
Replace with: Leafy greens and cruciferous veggies. Eating leafy greens like spinach, kale, romaine, collards, turnip and mustard greens, or cruciferous veggies like Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, and broccoli is a much healthier endeavor. It also bodes well for weight loss. Don’t hesitate to integrate them if you’re on a diet! These are all full of vitamins and nutrients, so they will be a huge improvement in your meal plan.