Weekly column in the Washington Times Communities by Laurie Edwards-Tate
Have you set a New Year’s resolution yet? If statistics hold true, many of you have resolved to live more healthfully including eating right, exercising more and losing weight. Congratulations!
Virtually all of us, resolved or not, can benefit from efforts to improve our health, but we are in serious denial. In a survey by the healthcare company Cigna HealthCare, more than half of all Americans say they are in good or excellent health. The other half? They say they only need to lose 10 pounds on average to be healthy.
Yet the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) says two-thirds of all Americans are overweight or clinically obese, which is more than 20 percent overweight or having a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 30 or more.
Americans eat too many calories and the calories we eat often have little nutritional value. We are eating ourselves to death and it is costing this nation an enormous amount of money treating diseases of obesity: diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer.
It does not take a complete overhaul of your diet to make changes with significant impact. Eating less of the foods loaded up with calories and nutritionally empty which adding foods packed with benefits without so much fat, cholesterol and sodium can help you lose weight, add muscle, keep a sharp mind, and boost your energy.
I have put together a list of ten foods commonly eaten by many Americans that have little or no nutritional value, as determined by a variety of nutrition experts. These are the foods on most lists. Eating less of these offenders will give your healthy resolution a good start.
The Ten Worst Foods
Chips – This is not a lot different than eating a stick of butter and shaking salt all over it. Who would do that? If you eat just three ounces of chips a week, in one year you’ll have consumed 23,400 calories and gain seven pounds. But most people do not stop at three ounces.
Bacon – This is almost entirely animal fat, high in salt and high in calories. Think of yourself chewing on a big nasty piece of gristle. Your digestive system has to work just as hard to try and pass it out of your system. Appealing?
Doughnuts – White flour with white sugar deep-fried in shortening. Imagine one plugging up your heart and stopping it from beating. Two doughnuts with your coffee are your entire fat intake for a day.
Fettucine Alfredo – There is a reason this dish has been called “heart attack on a plate.” Butter, cream and cheese over pasta, with even more fat than a doughnut. A portion the size of your fist, just three ounces, has double your fat intake suggested per day.
Processed Meats – Full of fat, salt, and nitrates which are linked to cancer, this includes sausages, hot dogs, and processed luncheon meats. Not highest in calories, but virtually every calorie in these meats damages you.
Fried Chicken – A single fried chicken breast has 400 calories and 22 grams of fat, much of it in the batter that soaks up all the oil, plus the skin. Cut the fat and calories in half with a skinless chicken breast, flame grilled or barbecues with a hot spice rub or chili and lime juice.
French Fries – A large order of fast-food fries typically has 570 calories, half from fat, and they are loaded with salt. Add a fatty burger and you have solved the mystery why your pants are tight.
Soft White Bread – Why is this here? Bread doesn’t have that many calories or much fat, right? The problem is that white bread is almost like eating a candy bar because it’s pure simple carbohydrates. It will spike your blood sugar, then cause it to crash, and you will feel hungry. That’s when you get the French fries at the drive-through window.
Soda Pop – When you drink a soda, you are drinking sugar. Drinking your calories is one of the fastest ways to gain weight.
Non-Dairy Toppings – These products are made of corn syrup and vegetable oil. Imagine pouring oil and corn syrup on your pie. A tablespoon is 32 calories and you are likely to use ten or more tablespoons.
Ice cream – We know this is a favorite treat for so many people, but it needs to be a rare indulgence. One serving of a gourmet type of ice cream has your whole fat intake for the day, wrapped in plenty of sugar… and few people eat just a single serving, which is one-half cup. You may eat two, three, even four. You are likely to eat it as dessert after dinner, right before bedtime, the worst time possible.
It is unrealistic to expect anyone to give up all ten of these foods at once. Consider eliminating half of them, and cutting back significantly on the other half of the list. Eat them as treats, not as regular features of your diet.
In a future LifeCycles column, I will provide a list of the Ten Best foods for resolution success.
Until next time, enjoy the ride in good health!