Every day you encounter obstacles to healthy eating—whether it's a neon sign lighting the way to your favorite fast food restaurant on the way home or a break room full of sugary goodies at the office. You can't control these things, but you do have a say over what's in your own home.
Now, you might be making several positive changes in your eating habits, such as increasing your intake of fruits and vegetables, choosing leaner meats, and watching your portions. But one thing you may have missed is what is hiding (or maybe front and center!) in your refrigerator.
I’m going to walk you through some of the worst things we tend to keep in stock. Take a peek this week; throw out spoiled or expired foods, and purge some of these unhealthy items!
Say sayonara to these six!
- High-calorie, sugar-sweetened beverages. Fruit juices, sodas, sports drinks, etc. all provide too much sugar and little to no
nutritional benefits. Instead, keep infused waters, club soda, and only 100% juices on hand.
- Processed meats and deli meats. While these may seem like a healthy option, processed meats and deli meats usually have added
nitrates which have been linked to increased risk for cancer. Also, processed meats like hotdogs, bacon, pepperoni, and salami are high in
saturated fats, which can increase cholesterol and risk for heart disease. Look for nitrate-free versions of deli meats, or choose fresh roasted
chicken or turkey breast.
- Salad dressings. Store-bought salad dressings are often high in calories, added sugar, fat, and preservatives. Instead, make your
own! Use 2 parts oil to 1 part vinegar/acid as a base. This will keep in the fridge for months, and you can mix in fresh herbs, garlic, shallots,
etc. before serving. Try using flax seed oil, extra virgin olive oil, or avocado oil. For the vinegar/acid base, try using apple cider vinegar,
balsamic vinegar (avoid sweetened versions), lime or lemon juice.
- Sweetened yogurts. Yogurt can be a great choice for a healthy snack. However, most varieties are high in added sugar or sweeteners.
Instead, choose plain Greek yogurt and sweeten it yourself with a little fruit, honey, or maple syrup. Plain Greek yogurt also makes a great
substitute for mayo or sour cream in recipes. If you aren't ready to take on plain yogurt, choose a variety that is lowest in added sugar and
doesn't have artificial sweeteners (check the ingredient list).
- Margarine. Sticks of margarine and soft tubs of margarine are sources of trans fats, which offer no nutritional benefits and have
actually been linked to increased cholesterol and triglycerides. Butter is a healthier choice, but still should be used in small amounts. Olive,
canola, coconut, or avocado oil are better options.
- Mayonnaise. Mayo is a staple in almost every refrigerator in America. However, it’s high in both calories and saturated fat—making
it an unwise choice. Try using mustard, avocado, or pesto instead. These are lower in calories and/or healthier fats.
Now that you know what to get rid of, don’t you want to learn what to keep? Here’s a quick list of five items to always have stocked in your fridge.
Get more nutrition tips and recipes on our healthy living blog, and learn about the nutrition counseling offered at our centers. Our Registered Dietitian Nutritionists can partner with you to grow stronger and healthier!