There are a lot of diets out there—and a lot of people who fail them because they raise the bar too high. It's difficult to restrict one's diet for too long, it's why so many diets fail. But eating healthier doesn't have to mean dieting, it just means eating better. Here are four simple things you can eliminate from your diet, without having to completely overhaul how you shop. We've included some healthier alternatives to rely on as you make the switch.
We're sure you've heard this one before—they are bad for your health. How bad? Soda has been linked to increased weight gain by causing you to feel hungrier than you are. High-sugar diets (like those that include soda) increase many of the risk factors for heart disease, including obesity and inflammation. They contribute to the risk of diabetes by as much as 26%. If you listen to nothing else we say in this article—drop the soda and drop it now.
The Alternative—Luckily, there are plenty of refreshing alternatives to soda that you can use as a substitute. Green tea has been linked to several health benefits including reducing the risk of obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. Basically, it's the opposite of soda—just be sure to choose a brand that doesn't include all of the added sugar. Infused waters, milk or soy milk, and black coffee can all help to break the soda habit, too.
French Fries and Potato Chips
On their own, potatoes can be quite healthy. But when they've been soaked in oil and fried, they begin to lose some of that nutritional balance and have been linked to increased weight gain in men and women. As hard as it may be, it's best to leave these fast food staples off of your plate.
The Alternative—Are you craving something crunchy? Fresh baby carrots have great health benefits, containing fiber, potassium, and other nutrients. Are you craving something salty? Lightly salted nuts—like almonds—can satisfy your salt tooth and provide additional protein and fiber to your diet.
Fried Chicken and Fish
Potatoes aren't the only thing you should keep out of the fryer. Chicken and fish, as well as just about any other fried food have been linked to diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure—all dangerous on their own and risk factors of heart disease. Fried foods are full of unnatural trans fats, which is more difficult for your body to break down, making them another link to increased chances of heart disease.
The Alternative—For just about any fried food on your menu, you can bet that there are going to be some sort of baked alternative out there that you can use. From baked fish and chips, to buffalo chicken, and even corn dogs - you can almost always count on a healthier form of your fried favorites by cutting out the oil.
I promise, we're not trying to hurt you, but you should know that most pizza is going to be pretty unhealthy. Of course, not ALL pizza is bad. But most pizza places and frozen pizzas use highly-refined wheat flour, which strips the wheat of essential nutrients and leaves empty sugars behind. Beyond that, you'll want to look into the ingredients on the rest of the pie, as well. Whenever possible, avoid the consumption of processed cheese and meats as well, generally what you'll find from your local delivery joint.
The Alternative—There is no substitute for pizza but you can make a healthier one yourself. Start by using whole wheat pizza dough, which means you're there are more nutrients going into your body than there would be otherwise. Also, load it full of vegetables. If you have a hard time getting your family to eat healthily, you could do worse than sneaking vegetables in on a slice of homemade pizza.