Food food food. We love our food. As a culture, we also highly value health. With millions of adults across the world resolving this new year to be healthier, we could all use a look at the biggest food mistakes we make.
Many of these foods can be enjoyed on occasion. While they are known for being unhealthy, reading this list may bring on some cravings. I have provided some healthy alternatives for when we crave these delicious-but-unhealthy foods.
Here are 10 unhealthy foods to give up in the new year:
First thing in the morning, it is hard to pass up a sugary sweet doughnut when you are ordering your coffee. What most people don’t know about doughnuts is that doughnuts are worse than most unhealthy snacks out there. One doughnut is about 300 calories. Livestrong.com writes:
“If you add a doughnut a day to your regular diet and don’t exercise the calories off or cut down on calories elsewhere, you will gain about one extra pound every 10 days.”
Doughnuts have the potential to do some real damage to your body. It would be in everyone’s best interest to practice moderation when choosing doughnuts.
Alternatives for your sweet tooth:
One way to satisfy that sweet craving in the morning is to prepare a delicious bowl of Greek yogurt with some fruit and granola. Your sweet tooth will be satisfied and your body will thank you.
Bagels are a conventient and delicious breakfast option, however reaching for a bagel first thing in the morning is a guaranteed way to pack on the pounds. Bagels are empty carbs that will quickly settle on your hips and thighs. Bagels lack the fiber that your body needs to turn it into something useful. Instead, the empty carbohydrates turn to sugar and fat.
Alternatives for bagels:
A healthy breakfast alternative to bagels are English muffins. They are high in fiber and contain considerably less sugar than bagels.
3. Fast Food Burgers
Fast food burgers are delicious, but commonly believed to be untrustworthy. Your gut instinct was right. According to Men’s Fitness, real meat makes up 2-14% of fast food burgers. Then what are we actually eating? Well, they fill the rest of the burger with fillers such as water, cartilage, and bone. It is also no surprise that these burgers are high in fat content.
Alternatives for fast food burgers:
Eat burgers from quality restaurants, places that are trustworthy and commited to making real food.
4. French Fries
They are potatoes, so they are healthy, right? French fries are an American staple that are not even slightly comparable to potatoes in terms of nutrition. Jonathon Bonnet, MD writes that removing the skin of the potato to make french fries is actually shedding the most nutritious part of the potato. Fries clearly lack any nutritional value, but what’s worse is their high fat and calorie content. According to Time magazine,
“A medium order of fries has 365 calories along with 17 grams of fat, a full 26% of your daily value. Sodium clocks in at 246 mg, or 10% of the upper limit you should eat in a day.”
It is easy to see why experts recommend staying far away from fast food. A consistent diet with this high fat content will quickly lead to weight gain and possibly obesity, not to mention the myriad of health problems associated with it.
Alternatives for Fry lovers:
There is no replacing this scrumptious treat, but some healthy alternatives are carrot fries or zuccini chips.
Chips are a cheap, savory snack for so many occasions. The downside of this treat is that when chips are part of your daily diet, they have negative health impacts. While eating chips, it is easy to take in more sodium than is healthy, putting people at risk for high blood pressure. Chips are often high in fat, which puts people at risk for high cholesterol. These are all risks associated with frequent potato chip eaters, so there is no need to worry when consumed in moderation. However, chips should not be in your pantry when trying to live a healthy lifestyle.
Alternatives for savory lovers:
Baked chips are healthier than regular potato chips. Healthier than that are unsalted pretzels and air-popped popcorn, according to HealthyEating.com.
I’m sorry. Someone had to say it. The world has a love affair with bacon, but it is possibly THE worst food we can eat. High in sodium and cholesterol, bacon will slowly destroy you. Let’s let the facts paint the picture. According to WebMD:
“You probably won’t be surprised to learn that 68% of bacon’s calories come from fat, almost half of which is saturated. Each ounce of bacon contributes 30 milligrams of cholesterol”
We all know bacon is bad for us. Maybe we didn’t know it is THIS bad. In moderation though, it is soooo worth it.
Alternatives for bacon lovers:
Turkey Bacon! It will never be quite as perfect and satisfying as real bacon, but Turkey bacon cooked the right way can satisfy some of those bacon cravings.
7. Any Deep Fried Foods
I probably don’t need to do much convincing with this one. Everyone knows eating delicious fried food is about the worst choice you can make. Fried foods instantly add to calorie and fat intake. Food absorbs fat from oil while it is frying. Making fried foods a consistent part of your diet greatly increases the risk for obesity.
Alternatives for fried food:
Opt to bake, grill, or steam your food. Skip everything fried.
Drinking soda is one of those habits we form when we are eating out or seeing a movie. Having soda with a meal is an American tradition and in the moment it feels very harmless. In reality, soda is liquid sugar. There is no justifying it. Soda is not part of a healthy meal.
Studies have found that drinking soda consistently can cause serious healthy concerns. According to Harvard’s Public Health website, adults who drink one sugary beverage a day have a significantly greater chance of developing type 2 diabetes and are more at risk of having a heart attack than their non soda-drinking peers.
Alternatives for soda:
In order to keep up a healthy lifestyle, opt for soda water (sugarless) or ice tea next time you are out at a restaurant. These are simple choices that can make a big difference.
9. Microwave Popcorn
Dr. Oz has spoken out about the harmful effects of microwave popcorn. Microwave popcorn has been found to contain health concerning chemicals in the bag. That delicious buttery taste comes from chemicals called diacetyl and PFOA . Diacetyl is what makes the popcorn taste buttery and oh so delicious, while PFOA is the chemical that lines the bag. What Dr. Oz has reported is that these chemicals can cause serious health problems such as cancer and thyroid issues.
Alternatives for Microwave popcorn:
Buy some kernals at the store and pop your own popcorn on the stove. It take just a few minutes longer than microwave popcorn, but it is healthier and still tastes delicious.
10. Processed Meats
The meat platter is a convenient and yummy way to bless a work party or family gathering. Processed meats are a common part of our culture. They are found everywhere we turn at the grocery store. The bad news is that processed meats are one of the unhealthier foods you can eat.
According to Authority Nutrition, eating processed meat has been linked to a greater risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, and cancer. Why? One of the reasons is that chemical compounds are added to processed meats. One example is sodium nitrate, added for flavor and preservation. However, nitrate in processed meat can turn into N-nitroso compound, a cancer-causing compound, when exposed to high temperatures. It is scary to realize that this fact is not widely known. It is important to know what we are putting in our bodies.
Alternatives for processed meats:
There are many choices for alternatives, but one suggestion for packed lunches is to roast a turkey at home and cut it into sandwhich-friendly slices.
We all have those cravings and every once in a while, it is okay to go for it. But, if we want to live a healther life in 2016, these foods should be the first to go. Commit to choosing healthier alternatives for your favorite junk foods.
Featured photo credit: 김목화 via flickr.com