Are you seeking to put yourself on the health radar? Then apart from junk food, there are foods you should avoid like a plague if you are working to manage your weight, handling a chronic disease, or simply trying to eat clean. Depending on your situation and taste, you can either eat them in moderation or cut them out.

Foods to avoid and their healthy alternatives

Most people can eat these types of food without serious health repercussions. However, moderation is key.

1.      Sugary drinks

Sugary drinks are sometimes referred to as liquid calories. They easily contribute to your total calorie intake and spike insulin resistance, leading to fatty lives disease, obesity, and type two diabetes.

The healthy alternative to sugary drinks

Water, coffee, soda water, and tea are healthier alternatives to sugary drinks. You can flavor your water by adding slices of fruit like lemons, watermelon, or cucumber.

2.      Processed meat

Processed meats are linked with many diseases like type two diabetes, heart disease, and some types of cancer.

The healthy alternative to processed meats

Use meat from local butchers that don’t add unhealthy ingredients.

3.      Processed cheese

Processed cheese is mostly made with ingredients that give them the taste and texture of cheese.

The healthy alternative to processed cheese

Eat real, natural cheese like mozzarella, feta, and cottage cheese. For other types of vegan cheese, read labels to confirm that they contain dairy and few artificial additives.

4.      Most fast-food meals

Most fastfoods are mass-produced and made by frying. They contain many carbs, added sugar, and very few nutrients.

The healthy alternative to fast food meals

Ask for low-carb fastfoods when you go eating out.

5.      White bread

White bread is made from highly refined wheat flour, low in fiber and other essential nutrients. Consumption of white bread in large amounts may spike blood sugar.

Healthy alternatives to white bread

Whole grain bread is a healthier alternative to white bread.

6.      Most commercial pizzas

Most commercial pizzas are made of highly processed flour, processed meat, and saturated fats, making them high in calories.

The healthy alternative to commercial pizzas

Make your pizza at home using wholesome ingredients, including lots of vegetables and fruits.

7.      High-calorie coffee drinks

Coffee is a good antioxidant. However, the creamers, additives, syrups, and sugar often added to coffee are unhealthy.

The healthy alternative to commercial pizzas

Drink plain coffee. You can add small amounts of full-fat milk or heavy cream if desired.

8.      Industrial vegetable oils

Industrial vegetable oils are highly oxidative and have been linked to an increased risk of cancer.

The healthy alternative to industrial vegetable oils

Use natural oils like coconut oil, extra virgin olive oil, butter, and avocado oil.

9.      Fruit juices

Most fruit juices have as much sugar as some carbonated drinks like Coke. Though natural fruit juices are high in vitamin C and antioxidants, they are high in sugar.

The healthy alternative to fruit juices

Take fruit juices in moderation to supplement your dietary intake and supplement with fruit juices whose health benefits outweigh the health risk, e.g., beetroot juice.

10.  Pastries, cakes, and cookies

Most pastries are made from highly processed and refined flour and sugar, and added fats. They have loads of calories, unhealthy trans fats, and very little fiber and nutrients.

The healthy alternative to pastries, cakes, and cookies

Use Greek yogurt, fresh fruit, or dark chocolate for dessert if you must.

11.  Margarine

Margarine is an unhealthy, highly processed alternative to butter. It contains loads of trans fats and calories.

The healthy alternative to commercial pizzas

Use real butter.

12.  Gluten-free junk food

Gluten-free junk food is simply junk food. Junk food lacks essential nutrients and contains loads of added sugar, raising blood sugar

The healthy alternative to gluten-free junk food

Avoid junk food; gluten-free or gluten-filled. Eat natural, unprocessed foods.

13.  Low-carb junk food

Low-curb junk food is simply junk food. Junk food is often highly processed and high in added sugars.

The healthy alternative to low-carb junk food

Eat natural foods that are low in carbs and nutritious. Avoid junk food like the plague.

14.  Ice cream

Ice cream is loaded with sugar and high in calories.

The healthy alternative to ice cream

Make your ice cream at home using fruits or look for healthier brands.

15.  Low-fat yogurt

Most yogurts labeled “low-fat” have a lot of added sugar to compensate for the natural fats. They are also often pasteurized, meaning they do not contain adequate probiotic bacteria.

The healthy alternative to low-fat yogurt

Use full-fat yogurt that contains probiotics.

16.  Agave nectar

Agave nectar is often used as a healthy alternative to sugar. It is, however, highly precedes and high in fructose, making it highly unhealthy.

The healthy alternative to agave nectar

Use calorie-free and natural sweeteners like stevia and erythritol.

17.  Fried foods

Frying food exposes the food to very high heat, which causes unhealthy chemicals like acrolein, oxysterols, acrylamides, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), and heterocyclic amines, and advanced glycation end products (AGEs). These chemicals increase the risk of certain types of cancer and heart disease. Fried foods are also very high in calories.

Healthy alternatives to fried foods

Use other milder methods of cooking food like steaming, blanching, boiling, and stewing.

18.  Potato chips, crisps, and French fries

Potato chips, crisps, and French fries are linked to weight gain. Excessive consumption of these foods exposes the carcinogenic chemicals called acrylamides that form when food is fried.

The healthy alternative to potato chips, crisps, and French fries

Boil your potatoes. Chew on baby carrots or nuts if you need a crunch.

19.  Sweetened breakfast cereals

Processed grains like oats, rice, wheat, and corn are popular in making breakfast cereals. The high content of added sugar in sweetened breakfast cereals makes them very unhealthy.

The healthy alternative to sweetened breakfast cereals

Pick breakfast cereals that do not have or have very low added sugar and are high in fiber. You can even make your grain meals from scratch, e.g., oat porridge. 

Take home on the type of foods you should avoid

Avoid highly processed food containing added sugar and saturated trans fats. Stick to natural fiber-filled and nutritious options to cut weight and eat clean.

Crystal Kadir

MS, Durham University

The work of a family doctor includes a wide range of clinical diversity, which requires extensive knowledge and erudition from a specialist. However, I believe that the most important thing for a family doctor is to be human because the cooperation and understanding between the doctor and the patient are crucial in ensuring successful health care. On my days off, I love being in nature. Since childhood, I have been passionate about playing chess and tennis. Whenever I have time off, I enjoy traveling around the world.

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