Last week we shared the most common refrigerator items that are harmful to your health (read here). This week, we are breaking down the pantry!
Having a well stocked pantry can be hugely beneficial to helping you always have what you need to cook on hand and to living a healthy lifestyle. However, there are some very common pantry items that you want to steer clear of, and we are outlining them below:
As convenient as cereal may be, they can be hugely detrimental to your health. Even cereals that advertise as being healthier or lower carb (be leery of low carb) have refined grains and sugars. If you see anything refined, it is best to back away. These products provide little to no nutrients for your body and can just leave you feeling more hungry that much faster.
What can you do instead? Opt for whole grain oats and make oatmeal. Cook in some unsweetened almond milk and add your own flavorings, such as vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, and fruits and berries. If making in the microwave, oatmeal only takes about 2-3 minutes, so you will be able to prepare this quickly!
Snack Cakes & Muffins
Again, snack cakes and pre-packaged muffins may seem like a good breakfast or snack idea, but aside from maybe tasting good while eating, they will again not provide you with the nutrients that you need, nor satisfy your hunger, and you will be reaching for another snack sooner rather than later. Plus, snack cakes and muffins have refined sugars, flours, and saturated fats, and just one snack cake can equal or be up to half of the recommended daily allowance of saturated fat recommended.
What to do? This is where meal prep is vital! You can make your own, much healthier, snack muffins and donuts or cakes. And if you are in a real hurry, grab some veggies and fruits to help fill you up more, or make an overnight oatmeal (recipe here) to eat during the day at work.
Cereal and snack bars may mask themselves as healthy, but they can have the same, or sometimes even more sugar than your standard breakfast muffin or even a poptart. Bars may seem like a quick fix, but again, due to the sugar content, and often times long list of ingredients, they can still be very processed and just make you more hungry. Additionally, they are eaten so quickly, that we are often not satisfied after eating one.
Opt to make your own bars that you can grab and go throughout the week. There are tons of snack bar and cookie recipes in your nutrition plan, but you can also check out the recipes here.
Chips & Pretzels
Chips and pretzels may seem like a great snack idea, but before you know it, you could be eating a whole bag! They are quite dangerous for the simple fact that you can snack away on these without even realizing how much you are eating. Additionally, they have so many processed sugars and flours (pretzels especially), and excessive amounts of salt, fat, and oils (chips especially). Because these snacks offer no nutritional value, we often eat so many because we are not feeling satisfied, despite the servings sizes being on average roughly 10-15 pieces. So rather than not feeling satisfied, try some kale chips or simply snacking on fruit instead.
Canned & Pre-Packaged Soups
Canned soups have so much added sodium (salt), that many exceed the daily recommended amounts. Now, salt is something that we all need; however, in excessive amounts, it can do a lot of damage to our bodies, such as cause high blood pressure, stroke, and heart disease. And whether or not you think you are at risk for any of these, do you really want to take the gamble?
So what can you do? Don’t be afraid to make your own! A basic soup entails tossing some veggies (onions, carrots, celery, etc) with vegetable stock into a pot. You can add seasonings like parsley, thyme, sage, pepper, and yes, even salt.
Just like the other snacks and treats we mentioned, cookies are refined, refined, refined. Store bought cookies are not only high in fat, but saturated fat, sugar, and refined flour. With cookies, you might as well just eat some sugar cubes.
Rather than eating a box of cookies, bake your own! It is okay to treat yourself sometimes, but if you just have a box sitting in your pantry, you are much more likely to mindlessly snack. Instead, bake your own and enjoy the smell in your kitchen and taste of something that you could control the ingredients. You can also try one of the many cookie recipes from your lifetime nutrition plan here (we love the peanut butter chocolate chip ones – so easy and minimal ingredients).
Movie Theatre Buttered Popcorn
Popcorn on its own is actually not bad for you. However, with movie theatre buttered popcorn (this includes the kind you can buy pre-flavored at the store), there is so much added fat, oil, and salt. It takes mere minutes to pop your own and add your own flavors, so buy plain kernels and get popping! You can use these popcorn recipes here for some flavor inspiration.