(Why 95% of Diets Fail)
Even though I like to focus on what you should be eating and doing, sometimes I have to discuss what you shouldn’t be eating. You may already be aware of some of the foods I’m going to discuss in this article, but I think they are worth a quick refresher. So before I begin listing off all of the wonderful, delicious foods I want you to eat, make sure you steer clear of these Nutritious Life saboteurs.
Though diet soda may save you liquid calories in the short term, in the long term not so much! One study showed that with each can of diet soda consumed, an individual’s risk for being overweight increased by 41 percent. Diet soda is not only bad for your waistline, it may also be damaging to your health. No surprise here. Have you read the ingredient list on a can of soda? Hello chemicals! A study presented at the American Stroke Association, which followed 2,500 New Yorkers who drank diet soda every day, found that these individuals had a 61 percent higher risk of vascular events, including stroke and heart attack, than those who did not consume diet drinks.
Instead try seltzer with sliced fruit (such as orange, lemon or lime) for zero calories and loads of flavor. The seltzer provides the fizz that most people like in sodas without all the artificial sweeteners and other chemical ingredients.
Sugar substitutes may seem like a good choice for people looking to watch their weight because they cut down on the number of calories in sweetened beverages and foods. However, these artificial sweeteners may actually make people more prone to overindulge and crave sweet foods. Artificial sweeteners are 200 to 700 times sweeter than sugar. When you consume them your body expects calories to follow the sweetness. When those calories don’t come, it goes looking for them later (aka “I just have to have something sweet after dinner!”).
Research done in the study published by Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health in 2008 showed that artificial sweeteners may not only lead to weight gain, but also cause damage to beneficial microflora in your gut. A healthy gut is critical to overall health and weight management. A healthier alternative to artificial sweeteners is using a small portion of the real thing such as raw honey or better yet sweet spices like cinnamon or nutmeg or vanilla.
High Fiber Cereal (loaded with sugar)
Most people want to get a little more fiber in their diet. That’s a good thing. And, most people think of breakfast cereal as being one of the easiest ways to do so. It seems easy enough to read the nutrition facts panel for the grams of fiber, right? Not so fast. Many of these high fiber breakfast staples come with the surprise of your not-so-friendly friend: sugar. In a cereal like Raisin Bran there are 6.5 grams of fiber per cup along with 17.6 grams of sugar.
Make sure to check the ingredient list first before making any assumptions about your favorite fiber friend. Remember, added sugar comes from ingredients like corn syrup, white or brown sugar, honey and evaporated cane syrup, as well as dried fruit. A high fiber diet has been shown to protect against heart disease and the risk of type 2 diabetes (yay!). A high sugar diet can increase your risk of obesity, heart disease and diabetes (boo!). All that sugar negates the goodness of the fiber.
A cereal high in fiber usually contains 3 or more grams of fiber per serving. I like a cereal to have at least 6 grams. Ideally, if you’re going to eat cereal choose one that has 6 grams of fiber and less than 6 grams of sugar. Remember, the best sources of fiber are going to come from the least processed foods. In other words, they won’t come in a box at all. Think about swapping in brown rice or quinoa for a breakfast starch instead of grabbing the pretty box.
Veggie chips must be healthy because they are made from veggies, right? Wrong! Often, veggie chips aren’t much healthier than regular potato chips. Most varieties of veggie chips contain mostly corn flour or potato, with small amounts of veggie powder or puree mixed in. Vitamins such as A and C that are found in vegetables are lost in the processing of these chips, so they don’t offer much in the way of nutrition. Remember, just because the chips look green doesn’t mean the main ingredient isn’t potatoes. Most of these chips are also high in fat, calories and sodium. One ounce of veggie chips usually has 150 calories, the same as potato chips. That would be ok if you were reaping the nutrient benefits, but as just mentioned, usually you’re not. Still want chips? I get it because I love them too! Here’s what you can do instead: Make your own veggie “chips” at home. Try chopping kale or slicing sweet potatoes or beets and tossing with a small amount of olive oil and sea salt, then popping in the oven and baking until crispy. YUM and healthy.
Many people assume that because a burger is made with turkey rather than ground beef that it contains less calories and fat. But this is often not the case. Usually, turkey burgers ordered in restaurants are made from dark meat and turkey skin – and can be higher in calories and fat than a lean beef burger.
Your better option is to make your own turkey burger using ground turkey that is at least 95 percent lean and instead of seasoning with the skin, use herbs and spices for an antioxidant, flavorful kick. I also love grass fed beef burgers. When purchasing poultry or beef go for lean and organic. It’s worth the extra dollars.
Fat Free Anything
When you see “fat free” stamped on that bottle of salad dressing, you’re probably thinking, “Oh, look! Fat free! This must be the healthier option.” That may be the case with naturally fat free foods like veggies and fruit, but not with foods like salad dressing, cookies, or even yogurt. When food manufacturers take the fat out, they replace it with sugar to give the product taste. The calories are usually about the same and the satisfaction value of the food goes way down.
Fat provides satiety, meaning it helps keep you satisfied. Also, don’t forget that about one-third of our diet is supposed to come from fat. A high sugar salad dressing will not keep you satisfied, will not allow your body to keep burning fat and also won’t provide the fat to help absorb all those good fat soluble vitamins and minerals found in the salad itself. As I always say, eating fat free peanut butter is like eating vitamin and mineral free vegetables! In other words, eat it the way nature intended it!
Organic Packaged Foods
The word “organic” refers to the way farmers grow and process fruits, vegetables, grains, dairy, and meat. To be certified “organic,” all produce must be grown without synthetic pesticides or fertilizers. Meat, poultry, eggs, or dairy products labeled “organic” are free of antibiotics or growth hormones. Regulations require that all organic foods be processed without irradiation (when food is treated with a small amount of radiation to eliminate germs and parasites) or chemical food additives, and they can’t be grown from genetically modified organisms (GMOs). The term “organic” is regulated by the USDA, so true organic food has the green USDA label. Before a product earns the label, a certifier must inspect the farm where the food is grown and make sure it meets all standards.
First and foremost I want you to eat real food. When possible go for organic. Read what I just said again. Eat real food. Packaged foods are generally not real. An organic cookie is still a cookie. In an organic nutshell: eat an apple, try to make it organic and skip the cookie regardless of whether or not it’s organic. Of course, if you’re going to indulge or a keep a box around organic is the better option, but don’t be fooled into thinking these packaged crackers or cookies are “good” for you.
Gluten Free Foods
Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, rye and their derivatives. The list of foods where you’ll find this protein is vast. From bread to crackers to soy sauce to vitamin and mineral supplements to medications and toothpaste, gluten is lurking. When people adopt a gluten free diet they turn to fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds, legumes, meats, poultry, fish, and gluten free grains. In other words, a healthy diet.
People go gluten free for several reasons: disease, sensitivity and more recently for weight loss. It’s traditionally followed by those with celiac disease, an autoimmune disease in which the body attacks itself in response to gluten. But now even celebs like Miley Cyrus, Kim Kardashian, and Lady Gaga have followed this diet, touting its health and weight loss benefits. Many people do report losing weight on a gluten free diet. But is it the gluten, or just the fact that people are removing calorie-loaded gluten foods, such as cakes, muffins, and pizza? By ridding yourself of gluten loaded foods you are naturally taking out a whole lot of junk from your diet. Regardless of why you may be going gluten free, if you are, remember that (similar to organic packaged foods) a gluten free chocolate chip cookie is still a chocolate chip cookie.