Thursday, May 7, 2009

Foods to Avoid

I was reading on Oprah this morning and found "Bob Greene's Six Foods to Avoid." Thought I'd share! We have already covered a few of these in earlier posts, but it never hurts to brush up a bit; and we'll probably talk about a few of them again! See how you are doing with these. Try making just one change this week. Just one. That's totally possible, no matter how broke or how busy you are! And you may find that some of these are no-brainer, easy foods for you to cut (for example, I don't drink alcohol, and I don't buy anything but skim milk and non-fat cottage cheese and yogurt).

Food #1: Soft Drinks

Bob says that soda is one of the leading sources of empty calories in America. Instead, have plain or flavored water, herbal iced tea or skim milk. If you crave a sweet drink, limit yourself to one glass of fruit juice a day—better yet, cut it with seltzer water. If you feel diet sodas help you lose weight, drink them—but try to get down to one a day or you'll never lose your taste for super-sweet foods.

Food #2: Foods Containing Trans Fat

The biggest offenders are margarine and vegetable shortenings—although, there are trans fat-free versions of both now—and processed food such as frozen meals, crackers, ramen soups, cake mixes, chips and candy. To see if a product has trans fat, check the ingredients list for partially hydrogenated vegetable oil. Don't go by the nutrition facts panel: By law, a product can contain up to 0.49 (nearly half a gram) of trans fat per serving but still read "0 g" on the label

Bob's favorite replacements are heart-healthy olive and canola oils.

Food #3: Fried Foods

Don't confuse foods made with trans fat with simple fried foods. There is a difference, but you should do your best to avoid both.

Even when they don't have trans fat, fried foods in restaurants are often cooked in oil that is reused. This can create by-products that have been linked to a variety of diseases. And fried foods are highly caloric. "The point is that [frying] causes a food to absorb more fat and calories," Bob says. "It's why I want you to replace it with some other alternatives."

One alternative you can try is oven-frying. Cut potatoes into strips, toss or spray with a little olive oil, salt, and pepper, and cook in a 400° oven until brown. And if you can't live without potato chips, choose baked varieties made without trans fat.

Food #4: White Bread

Don't panic—you can still have your carbs, they just have to be whole grain. Compared with refined white flour, whole grains are not only more nutritious, they also have lots of fiber that will keep you fuller longer.

To get truly "whole wheat" or "whole grain" bread, you need to be on your toes. Packaging can be misleading. Some brown "wheat" breads, for example, don't even contain whole wheat! To make sure you're getting a meaningful amount of whole grains, check that they show up at the beginning of the ingredients list. Bread should have at least two grams of fiber per slice.

Food #5: Alcohol

Alcohol and weight loss don't mix. Obviously, alcohol can add a lot of extra calories to your diet, and it's more caloric than other foods. Alcohol contains 7 calories per gram (carbohydrates and fat contain only 4 calories per gram; fat contains 9 calories per gram). But there are reasons besides the calories to skip sipping.

Alcohol, a depressant, can slow your metabolism. And, it's hard to make healthy eating decisions after you've had a few. Take a break for the first phase, and if you'd like to enjoy a drink on occasion, you can do so later on in the plan.

Food #6: High-Fat Milk and Yogurt

Although milk and yogurt are excellent sources of calcium and protein, there is no reason to have the full-fat version when so many lower-fat versions are available.

A cup of whole milk has 7.9 grams of fat—4.5 grams of it saturated—and 24 milligrams of cholesterol. Compare that to a cup of nonfat skim milk's 83 calories, 0.2 grams of fat, 0.125 grams of saturated fat and 5 milligrams of cholesterol.

Bob recommends fat-free or one percent milk. As for cheese, opt for reduced-fat versions with no more than 5 grams of fat per ounce.


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