I’ve been asked by several people, “How can I lose weight?” and when I worked as a nanny in high school and my first year of college, parents would ask, “How can I help my child lose weight?”
Often, although it sounds simple, people were surprised and taken aback when I told them that the only way to see sustainable weightloss and quality of health improve was to “get rid of anything in the kitchen pantry that doesn’t have positive health effects on the body.”
Think about it like this: if your closet is full of clothes from the 1800s, and you want to dress really really trendy and hip, it wouldn’t make sense to keep those old clothes in your closet.
If you want to live healthy, and promote healthy living and eating habits to your children and those you love, it just doesn’t make sense to keep garbage in your pantry.
This post will focus on the top 10 things (plus a bonus) that you’ll want to get rid of; stay tuned this week as I post a list of things you’ll want to stock up on. (This is brought to you courtesy WebMD and Nutritionists everywhere.)
Let the Spring Pantry-Cleaning Begin!
1. Soda & Sweetened drinks: Up to 50 grams of sugar can be in one 16-oz bottle of soda. In addition, it has been noted that calories obtained from drinks can account to over half of our daily caloric intake. Soda is not good for you, and it is certainly not good for your kiddos.
2. High Sugar, Low Fiber Breakfast Cereals: Okay, so my boyfriend loves Cereal. (Similar to how I love dark chocolate) but these are really quite bad. Spend a two minutes and make yourself an egg, have a piece of low sugar whole wheat toast, or some steelcut oats with honey and nuts. Sugary cereals may boost energy—but it is artificial, un-sustaining energy. Kids who eat well-balanced breakfasts do better in school than kids who don’t.
3. Cupcakes & Donut type Items. Hostess, Ho Hos, and any other pre-packed over-processed, additive-riddled pseudo-food item is probably not healthy.
4. Butter Popcorn. If you want a good popcorn alternative, that does not have the fat and sodium, I am a fan of Kettle corn, or plain popcorn that you season (this way you can control what goes on it.)
5. Chips and Cheetos. These may be one of the worst possible things for you or your child. High in calories, high in fat, high in sodium, and presenting absolutely zero nutritional value—chips should be avoided. Seriously. Bake some fruit to make “apple chips” or cut some sweet potatoes and bake “sweet potato fries” as a healthy solution to chips and cheetohs! (A 2-ounce bag of chips or Cheetos usually adds more than 300 calories, 20 grams of fat, and over 450 milligrams of sodium)
6. Muffins & Cereal Bars: It’s not that I am against muffins or homemade cereal bars, but prepackaged cereal bars and store-bought muffins are often very high in sugar and very high in calories. I do have a few favorite cereal bars (for when I am in a pinch)—and that are lower in sugar and refined carbohydrates. Kashi brand products tend to be okay, and I like the ThinkThin cereal bars (although I will warn, sometimes cereal bars that have been sweetened with artificial sugars can cause negative reactions in the body). I have a wonderful Gluten-Free lemon blueberry muffin recipe, and several homemade recipes for flax, oat, and nutrient dense cereal bars, which are great for freezing and eating throughout the week (or even month!). Those recipes will be posted soon!
7. Yeast breads (or refined carbs and white breads): These are not only the biggest source of refined flour in the typical American diet, but they can also be a huge source of sodium. I once had someone tell me that they ate bagels and hot dog buns because they were worried about getting enough “carbs”. The truth is, carbohydrates are in fruits and even vegetables—and if you want something to spread peanut butter on, whole wheat less-processed bread is a much healthier option than white breads.
8. Store bought cookies. And Girl Scout cookies. Confession: when I was a kid, I once ate almost an entire box of Samoas by myself. I was then sick, and have vowed to stay away from them because they are so addictive (it’s that sugar I was talking to you about) and, I am convinced, one of the worst foods on earth for you. Store bought cookies often have a high amount of saturated fat (5-10 grams per serving) and are laden with sugar, high fructose corn syrup, and other unnecessary evils. Make cookies from scratch so you know what is going into them; not only do they taste better, but they are much better for you if done correctly.
9. Instant Noodles, Mac N’ Cheese, ad other Box Dinner Pasta Dishes Unless you’re talking the veggie noodle now offered by Barilla or, in moderation, whole wheat pasta—Pasta Roni, Mac N’ Cheese, and Cup of Noodles wreak havoc on the body. They are high in sodium (like, sky high—higher than the space needle), often high in unsaturated fat, and in general, offering little nutritional value. I will work on posting healthier options to these box-meals for the busy moms and dads out there, but kids are better off eating raw fruits and vegetables instead of a box of ultra-processed noodles dipped in salty water.
10. Candy What is life without candy? I’m not saying to never eat candy again but if candy is readily accessible in your pantry for you or for your kids—well, it will be munched on more than it probably should be. Instead of munching on a few M&Ms or a Snicker’s bar, eat a big bowl of fruit with some honey and sprinkled with crushed almonds. You’ll be surprised by how quickly your body adjusts and is satisfied with the natural sweetness in fruit!
Bonus Item: Jell-O’s, Puddings, and other powders-that-turn-into-gross-products (Tang, I’m talking about you!) I get on book kicks. I always like to read the newest nutrition book, the latest eating fad book, and of course every cookbook I can get my hands on. One of my recent books was Salt Sugar and Fat by Pulitzer Prize winner Michael Moss, in which he discusses how much sugar (and salt, and fat—bet you guessed that one) is added to our food without us even realizing it. These instant mixes are examples of dangerous items you should avoid!