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The Voice of the Black Community

Life and Religion

How to spring clean your diet
Improve health by knowing what to hang on to and what to ditch
Published Friday, April 11, 2014
by Michaela L. Duckett

Spring cleaning is not just about getting rid of the dust bunnies hiding under your bed, cleaning out the garage or sorting through that infamous junk drawer.

It’s also an ideal time to raid the kitchen and give your diet a makeover for the new season. After all, summer is right around the corner, and if you want your body to be bikini-ready, it’s time to get started.

However, when it comes time to figure out what to toss and what to keep in your pantry, you may be surprised to learn that some of the foods on your “healthy list” may not be so healthy after all. Here are a few tips to get you started:

TOSS: Multigrain and wheat breads – Don’t be fooled by labels, such as “multi-grain” and “wheat.” Sure they sound healthy, but many types of bread labeled with these terms are made with refined grains, which lack the full benefit of the whole grain. Pay attention to the nutrition labels. If refined flour is listed as the first flour ingredient, throw it out.

KEEP: Whole grains. “You can enjoy grains, but stick to whole grains like brown rice, quinoa, pats and the like,” suggests Carrie Gabriel, a registered dietician for Kelapo Coconut. “These grains give you energy, fiber and take longer to diets so they keep you full longer.” There are also some breads with whole grains. Look for those.

TOSS: Premade smoothies. The idea of getting your daily supply of fruits in veggies in a tasty drink is attractive, but the truth is smoothies can easily contain over 1,000 calories. Many are also laden with artificial sweeteners, simple sugars and syrups.

KEEP: Fresh fruits and vegetables. You can make your own smoothies and save on cost by using frozen fruits and vegetables. Avoid fruits packaged in syrup, which multiplies the sugar content.

TOSS: Reduced-fat peanut butter. The fat content may be lower, but with all of the added sugars, sodium and partially hydrogenated oils (unhealthy fats), reduced-fat peanut butters often have just as many calories as the full-fat versions.

KEEP: All-natural peanut butter. This way you can avoid the unwanted sugars, carbs and sodium.

TOSS: Energy bars. Also known as meal replacement bars, experts say these bars do not amount to much more than candy bars with added vitamins, protein or fiber. Check the ingredients, sugar is often at the top of the list, meaning it’s the most predominant.

KEEP: Nuts. Looking for a quick protein boost? Reach for a handful of raw almonds. In addition to satisfying your immediate hunger or urge to eat, some studies have also shown that snacking on almonds could significantly reduce coronary heart disease risk factors.

TOSS: Packaged turkey. Yes, turkey is a leaner meat, but the packaged version is often loaded with sodium. If your brand contains more than 350 milligrams of sodium per 2-ounce serving, toss it out.

KEEP: Butcher cuts. “Make sure your meat is straight from the butcher,” said Gabriel. “Or at the very least, they are organic and not prepackaged.” In addition to organic turkey, her choices are wild salmon and organic chicken to avoid added antibiotics.


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