We can all agree that restrictive diets are a total drag. Plus, they’ve been proven to be detrimental to our health in the long run. For your sanity, it’s important to enjoy what your eat, and registered dieticians insist that most foods are fine in moderation. That said, “there are some foods that provide minimal nutritional benefits that we should limit or avoid,” says Vandana Sheth, R.D., C.D.E., spokesperson for the Academy Of Nutrition and Dietetics.
So how can you begin phasing them out? Angela Ginn-Meadow, R.D., L.D.N., C.D.E., and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics says that it’s a gradual process: Start by eating that food less often, then cut down the portion size when you do eat it. Finally, sub in a healthier option.
The bottom line is that healthy eating is about being mindful and aware of what you’re consuming. Here, registered dietitians share the five foods to watch out for.
“Beverages with added sugar are one of the easiest things we can cut from our diets,” says Ginn-Meadow.
The American Heart Association recommends that men consume no more than 9 teaspoons of sugar a day (about 36 grams). To give you some perspective, one 20 oz lemon-lime soda has a whopping 77 grams of sugar—more than double the recommended daily amount. Sheth adds that fancy coffee drinks can also be total sugar bombs that add up quickly.
Before you know it, you may consume 400 to 900 calories and 10 to 15 teaspoons of sugar from that white chocolate mocha.
Here’s another place to slash added sugar. According to Sheth, sweet cereals (these are the best and worst ones you can eat) and flavored instant oatmeal are packed with added sugars and typically made from refined grains, which contain minimal fiber.
Instead, enjoy whole grain cereal (like one of these low-sugar cereals that don’t taste like twigs) or old-fashioned oats with fresh fruit.
We love bacon, but consume it in moderation: According to a 2010 Harvard University study, processed meats including bacon, ham, and hot dogs have been shown to increase your risk of heart disease by 42 percent and diabetes by 19 percent.
No idea what that ingredient list says? “Put it back on the shelf,” says Ginn-Meadow.
Be on the lookout for artificial coloring and added preservatives, which don’t add any nutritional value. Plus, research suggests that some food dyes are toxic, which ups the risk of various health concerns. Best to steer clear. (And stay away from these 19 foods that aren’t food.)
“Trans fat increases your overall cholesterol, lowers your ‘good cholesterol,’ and raises your ‘bad cholesterol,’” says Ginn-Meadow.
In short, according to research by McMaster University, trans fat has been linked to a greater risk of “early death and heart disease.” Foods that contain trans fat include shortening, prepackaged biscuits, store-bought pie crusts and cookies, and packaged frozen meals.
The article The 5 First Things Nutritionists Will Tell You to Cut From Your Diet originally appeared on Prevention.
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