We made a list and we’re checking it twice. It’s a shopping list for the supermarket and in 2018 we’re eliminating foods that have been making us gain weight. Some are obvious offenders and some are sneaky. We think having them spelled out in front of us will keep them out of our carts – and yours – for good.
Whole Wheat Bread
“Refined wheat, aka white flour, contains no nutrients and leaves your body hungrier than when you sat down to eat,” says Dr. Marizelle Arce. You probably think that you’re avoiding white flour and only eating the healthy stuff. Just because a food is described as “whole wheat” or “seven-grain” doesn’t mean it’s good for you unless it has at least 4 grams of fiber. Any food that lists “wheat flour” or “unbleached enriched flour” is pure weight gain promoting junk. “These empty calorie carbs will cause the next meal you have to be stored and turn into fat,” says Dr. Arce.
“A protein-packed smoothie is a good meal on the go, but the worst powder is loaded with unpronounceable ingredients, fillers and sugars,” says culinary nutrition expert, Andrea Wien. She asserts that some protein powders are legit and not chock full of preservatives, GMOs, allergens, soy, aspartame, saccharin, and artificial flavors. Whew, that’s a long list. “Be diligent about checking labels and making sure ingredients come from a good source and is sugar, soy and gluten-free,” she says. “Also watch out for whey or dairy-based protein powders, as many people will have trouble digesting them.”
Put down the glass and don’t take anther sip. Juice can add pounds. “A healthy meal should provide a combo of protein, fat, and carbs with at least 5 grams of fiber,” says Alix Turoff, a New York City nutritionist and trainer. “But juices lack fiber so what you're getting is just a carb that’s going to spike your blood sugar.” But you thought fruit had fiber. And it does. But fiber gets lost when a fruit is juiced. All of the phytonutrients found in fresh whole fruit doesn’t translate to just juice, says Turoff. You’re much better off squeezing some fresh citrus into a tall glass of water.
Sorry, bagels. We have to part ways, even with the whole-wheat varieties. “Eating a bagel actually makes you hungrier because there is nothing in it to fill you up,” says Stacy Goldberg, a nutritionist at savorfull. “The calorie count in a bagel is astronomical!”
Muffins take second place to bagels as the worst food you could buy at the grocery store. You’re fooling yourself into thinking they are NOT cake! Muffins cause a spike in blood sugar that begins a cycle of hunger and binging that ends in your body storing fat. We think the chocolate chip varieties are amazing and the temptation is real. But we like the way our jeans fit, thank you very much.
The jig is up fruited and flavored yogurts. You’re bad news. “Yogurt is a good source of protein, calcium, vitamin D, and probiotic bacteria such as L. acidophilus, but not all yogurts are created equal,” says Jenny Dang, RD, the founder of Eat Your Dang Veggies. Flavored yogurts contain more than 15 to 18 grams of total sugar. Sure some are natural but most are added empty calories. “You can reduce your added sugar intake by choosing plain, unflavored yogurt and flavoring it with fresh or frozen fruit, nuts, cinnamon or a drizzle of honey,” says Dang. “The fruit will give you an extra nutrient boost of vitamins, minerals and fiber,” she says. “And the almonds contain healthy fats that keep you feeling full - and your heart healthy.”
Sausage can be high in saturated fat, sodium, and added sugars, says Dang. “I'm not saying you should never eat them again, but to enjoy sausage in moderation with a balanced meal.” And by that she means including whole grain toast and fruit. If you must absolutely have sausage once in a while, choose wisely. Dang suggests sausage made from lean meat such as turkey. “It’s a more nutritious option that also provides less calories and saturated fat compared to pork sausages,” she says. You can get a similar savory flavor from chicken sausage and turkey bacon or even a couple of slices of lean ham. Remember to read labels and scrutinize the calories and fat and sugar contents.
“Sugary cereal is a terrible food,” says David Baillie, a Connecticut-based personal trainer and owner of Front-Line Fitness. That means basically any box with a cartoon character on it. He says many cereals are highly processed, and full of sugar and refined carbohydrates. All of that added sugar is a big reason why cereal-eaters put on pounds. It’s super important to read the food labels on cereal boxes and aim for one that has at least 3 to 5 grams fiber and no more than 5 grams sugar per serving. And then look to see how much is in a serving. A typical recommended serving size is 30 grams, which Baillie says is about half of what the average person eats.