A few weeks ago, I posted about spring cleaning the pantry. Building off of that theme, I sometimes am asked if there are any foods that shouldn't even be regularly brought into the house. While I am a fan of moderation and treating oneself on occasion, there are some foods better left un-stocked and only purchased in small quantities when "treat time" arrives. Here are just a few of those foods...
1. Bulk bags of chips or cheetos
Chips, cheetos and other snack-type foods should not be stocked in large quantities. It is too easy to grab a handful here - a handful there - and suddenly half of the bag is gone. Instead, purchase the individual-sized bags only on occasion. This makes the snack portion-controlled. When the bag is gone, the treat is over. Because - lets face it - there really isn't anything "healthy" to be found in these snacks.
2. Movie butter popcorn
This is a great example of taking a really great snack (popcorn) and killing its beauty. Popcorn is full of fiber and low in calories...until you throw unnecessarily ridiculous amounts of butter on top. "Movie butter" microwave popcorn is not only covered in saturated fat, but also sodium and cancer-causing trans-fat (note: many varieties no longer contain trans fat). You are much better off air-popping your own popcorn on the stove, in a popcorn maker or in the microwave (just place ~1/3 cup popcorn kernels in a brown paper lunch bag, fold and heat in the microwave for 3 minutes or so!). After making it yourself, you then can control what type and how much added fat and salt is added on top.
3. Carbohydrate-only granola bars
There are so many granola bars in the store that choosing which to buy can be stressful. The worst thing you can do is buy a granola that has little to no protein or fat (3 or fewer grams of either). Purely carbohydrate-based granola bars are just as bad as eating a cookie or a bowl of ice cream. So, toss out those sugar-based bars and find a bar that has around 8 grams of protein. This will be help stabilize blood sugar and be much more satisfying.
4. Fruit drinks
Whether it is in the form of a juice box, plastic container of powder, or powdered envelopes, fruit "drink" (vs. 100% fruit juices) offer no nutritional benefit. Get them out of the house. This includes most lemonades, which are no better than fruit drinks or regular soda. While 100% fruit juices are a better option than fruit drinks, 100% fruit juice should also be enjoyed sparingly and only at meals. One hundred percent fruit juice does contain some vitamins and minerals, but it is low in fiber and high in carbohydrate and total calories. This can spike blood sugar and potentially lead to weight gain over time.