We hear it time and again. Our diets tend to be high in saturated and trans fats, sugar and sodium. We should cut back on these and eat more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Proteins should be low in saturated fats, such as poultry, fish, and tofu.
To make it a little easier for you, we’ve compiled a list of five foods to eliminate from your diet. We know it’s near impossible to ban them altogether, but if you make an effort to avoid these items, you and your kids will look and feel better. You probably will be healthier, too.
In alphabetical order — to avoid seeming to favor some over others! — here are the five culprits:
- Bacon, hot dogs, and other processed meats: Not only are these meats high in calories, sodium, and fat, they contain sodium nitrites, which are a carcinogenic precursor. You can buy nitrite- and nitrate-free versions of these meats at natural food stores and some supermarkets, which is a good idea. Turkey bacon and dogs are a good alternative, too, although even they should be limited.
- Cheeseburgers: We know these are an all-American favorite, but whoever dreamed up the idea of topping fatty red meat with cheese was out of his or her mind! Both cheese and beef are sources of saturated fat and both are high in calories. The cheese is generally high in sodium, too. Instead, have a plain burger made from lean ground meat and hold the cheese for another day.
- French fries, potato chips and other fried snacks: These items very often are high in trans fats, which contribute significantly to heart disease, diabetes and a host of other ailments. They also are high in calories and sodium. If a restaurant claims to fry their food in unsaturated oil, the items are marginally better for you, but will still add to your waistline.
- Store-bought baked goods: Those tasty treats wrapped in cellophane or sold in a box nearly always contain trans fats and artificial preservatives and additives; even "fresh-baked" doughnuts are a big no-no. When you want coffee cake, make it yourself or buy it from a local bakery you trust. Limit your consumption of all baked items —homemade or from the neighborhood bakery. There is no way around it: They are fattening!
- Soda: Parents beware. Soda is nothing more than liquid sugar. A typical can has 150 calories (which translates to about 10 teaspoons of sugar!) and up to 50 milligrams of caffeine. And that is not even considering the artificial coloring and flavorings. Diet sodas are packed with unhealthful artificial sweeteners. Try milk, water, or limited amounts of fruit juice, instead.