1. Processed/Fast Food
Burgers, fries, milk shakes, snack foods, and candy are a dieter’s worst enemy. They are quick and convenient to grab, but they are loaded with sugar, bad fats, and harmful chemicals. Think of these foods as empty calories, giving you lots of calories with nothing in return. Refined grains also belong in this category. They lack nutritional value because their outer fiber-rich layer is stripped away during the refinement process. Examples include white bread/bagels, donuts, most cookies and even white rice and pasta. Refined grains are high in the glycemic index, which means that they break down quickly into sugar, giving you a temporary rush with is followed by a drop in your blood sugar and accompanying hunger and cravings. If you are craving a treat, and want to stop weight gain, have an oatmeal cookie, a piece of dark chocolate or some fresh or dried fruit.
2. Bad Fats
Limit your intake of saturated and trans fats. Saturated fats are found in animal products such as meat and butter and consuming high amounts of these foods is not only hard on your waistline but also your heart because they can raise cholesterol. If you like beef, choose lean cuts and trim the fat. Butter is okay in moderation (a teaspoon or so a day). Trans fats are often found in snack foods (as hydrogenated oils) and some margarine spreads. They have been getting a lot of attention for their adverse effects on health and as a result many manufacturers are eliminating them. Be aware that many fat-free products on the market, such as fat-free sour cream or yogurt use sugar or starch to replace the fat, and don’t stop weight gain since they provide just as many calories as the original product.
3. Soft Drinks
Liquid calories can add up fast. Consider this: the average can of sugar-sweetened soda or fruit punch provides about 150 calories, almost all of them from sugar, usually high- fructose corn syrup. That’s the equivalent of 10 teaspoons of table sugar. Consuming one of these soft drinks every day, and not cutting back on calories elsewhere, could result in a weight gain of 15 pounds in a year. Just think of how many calories are in the super-sized containers offered by many fast food and convenience chains.
Some studies have found that people tend to eat more calories on days when they drink a lot of sugar-sweetened drinks, and that soda drinkers tend to be heavier than people who don’t drink soft drinks. It is thought that the body does not easily recognize calories derived from beverages, so people end up eating more.
Diet soft drinks are not a good alternative. Some research suggests they can increase appetite, promote belly fat storage, and the artificial sweeteners they contain may pose serious health dangers. For all these reasons, soft drinks, whether regular or diet, should not be part of your diet. To stop weight gain, reach for water, green tea or other herbal teas.
If you drink alcoholic beverages, do so in moderation. Alcohol floods the body with empty calories. A rum and cola is about 325 calories; a beer is about 150 calories; and a glass of dry wine is about 105 calories. These drinks can add up quickly.
5. Salt and Sodium
Cut down on salt and sodium. Most of the sodium in the North American diet comes from the salt shaker and processed foods. A high-sodium diet is unhealthy and causes fluid retention, meaning it can contribute to water weight gain. Instead, season food with fresh or dried herbs.