John McGran, chief editor at Diet-to-Go, has been covering the fields of diet, fitness and health since 2000. He writes from the perspective of a dieter rather than a dietitian.
I bet you didn’t know that November 15 is “Clean Out Your Refrigerator Day” or that November 29 is “Throw Out Your Leftovers Day.” But I bet you do know that your refrigerator is crammed with foods that don’t fit well with your desire to eat healthy and lose weight.
So please join me, Mr. Bad Food, for our first annual “out with the old, in with the new” push for a healthier tomorrow â€“ and an easier start to our next great weight loss attempt.
It’s time to turn a cold shoulder to the 10 worst foods in your fridge.
1. Mayo – If you’re like me, more is better when it comes to mayo. So while a little won’t hurt you, a lot will. A quarter-cup of mayo will make your sandwich savory, but at the cost of an extra 360 calories and 40 grams of fat.
2. Sweetened soft drinks – Sodas, fruit drinks, flavored teas, sports drinks… You can’t turn a corner without coming face to face with some sort of soft drink machine or display. It all adds up to a lot of empty calories, folks. Skip the sweetened varieties, drink diet varieties sparingly and opt instead for water whenever possible!
3. Beer and wine – These “adult drinks” should be kept stored away for special occasions. Having them accessible like this only serves to entice you into sipping a few extra empty calories. An eight-ounce glass of wine delivers around 170 calories, while a 12-ounce bottle of beer has about 150.
4. Deli counter meats – Lunch meats like bologna and ham are crammed with fat, sodium and nitrites. According to the American Institute for Cancer Research, processed meat, which is defined as any meat preserved by smoking, curing, salting, or with the addition of chemical preservatives, increases your risk of colon cancer. Gotta have your sandwiches? Opt instead for fresh roasted turkey, chicken or lean beef.
5. Hot dogs and sausages – See #4 for the reasons to chuck this stuff. Hot dogs and sausages not only have lots of sodium (520-680mg per two-ounce serving), they’re also plumped up with plenty of fat (up to 23g of fat and 7g of saturated fat per serving). If you absolutely MUST have a hot dog, opt for the leaner versions that are also low in sodium.
6. Whole-milk products – On one hand, dairy products do provide good stuff like protein, calcium, B-12 and riboflavin. But on the other hand, the “full-strength” milk products are packed with fat and cholesterol. That daily glass of whole milk adds up to 1,904 calories, 105g of total fat, 59.5g saturated fat, and 315mg of cholesterol for the week. Opt for the lower-fat or nonfat versions of your favorite dairy foods.
7. Ice cream – Inviting Ben & Jerry’s or some other gourmet ice cream into your freezer is inviting trouble with a capital T. Even if you stick to the serving size of a half cup, you’ll still be treating your tummy to far too many calories and grams of fat. Mr. Bad Food can rarely stop at that half-cup. For me it’s lid off, ice cream gone! If you need a wake up call just check the nutrition label on your favorite ice cream. Brrrrrr!
8. Creamy salad dressings – Salads are great for a diet… just not when you load ’em up with creamy dressings like bleu cheese, thousand island or Caesar! A two-tablespoon serving of each adds about 120 calories, 12g of fat, 2.5g saturated fat, and 380mg sodium. And when is the last time you used just two tablespoons? There are tasty lite dressings, so shop around!
9. Margarine and stick butter – I love butter â€“ real and fake. But using this stuff puts your diet on a slippery slope. Blame it on the saturated fat and trans fat. Much like salad dressings, mayo and ice cream, we almost always use way more than we should. A tablespoon adds 100 calories and 11 grams of fat. Butter has 7g of saturated fat per tablespoon, while stick margarine adds 2g saturated fat and 1.5g trans fats. Try switching to canola oil or olive oil.
10. Frozen potato products – Got kids? Odds are you have french fries, hash browns or tater tots in your freezer. Just one small three-ounce serving has 8 to11g of total fat, around 3g of saturated fat, 390 to 540mg sodium, and about 190 calories. A potato lover like Mr. Bad Food will double that without thinking! Opt for unprocessed potatoes that you form and bake yourself. You’ll get the nutrients without the added fat, saturated fat or sodium.
Also on the list of bad fridge foods: soy sauce (it’s loaded with salt) and white bread (too many refined carbs).
For more helpful insight from Diet-to-Go Chief Editor John McGran, check out these articles:
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November 12th, 2010