By Jennifer Smith, CHN, BHC, FBCC
Most processed food contains hidden empty calories that have been used as fillers and seasonings. Selecting healthy forms of food has become a challenge when going to the grocery store. Here are three of the worst culprits that need to be avoided and healthier substitutions.
It is amazing how many unexpected products you will find that contain sugar. You can find sugar in everything from preformed meat patties and pasta sauces to yogurt. Sugar not only has empty calories but has considerable health consequences. Weight gain and diabetes are directly connected to excess sugar consumption. So far, sugar has no direct benefit to your health while it adds empty calories. If you have a sweet tooth, fruits can help to satisfy the craving while adding beneficial nutritional value to the body.
Often, we equate fat with flavor when it comes to fried foods, but the harm foods full of harmful fats cause outweighs the benefits when it comes to your health. Of course, there are some healthy fats that we should consume, but it’s important to choose the right ones rather than filling up on things like foods fried in canola oil. Consumption of fried foods leads to many heart-related diseases as well as weight issues. Often, there are ways to get the taste without cooking the food in harmful fats. Oven-frying is one way to avoid using harmful fat that creates a similar taste and texture. Processed snack items, like potato chips, are filled with fat. Snack on items such as raw nuts or seeds to get that crunch you are looking for. Skip low-fat, high sugar dairy products and opt for healthy fats, such as a true full-fat yogurt.
Alcohol has virtually no nutritional value, adding unnecessary, useless calories in addition to the other negative effects alcohol can have on your life. Regularly consuming a few alcoholic drinks can add unnecessary weight to the body as well as harm the liver. Alcoholic beverages can impair your decision-making skills as well as the ability to function at your optimum capabilities, so it is best to avoid it. If you go out with friends, choose fruit-based beverages minus the alcohol.
You should think of your body as you would your home. You would not invite unsavory characters into your house, so be aware of what you are inviting into your body. Empty-calorie foods generally exist in the processed foods area that is found in the middle of grocery stores. When out food shopping, purchase items that are located on the outside aisles to make healthier choices.
If you need help making better food choices, try our intuitive eating coaching program!
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Jennifer Smith is certified in Holistic Nutrition, a Biblical Health Coach and Faith-Based Clinical Counselor. She has completed advanced certifications in Functional Nutrition, Biblical Naturopathy and Biblical Eating and Clinical Nutrition.