- There are lots of great snacks that nutritionists swear by, including nuts, cheese, crunchy vegetables, fatty avocados, creamy yogurt, and savory hummus.
- But juice is terrible for your body, and sugar in liquids of all kinds is basically a nutritionist’s worst nightmare. If you’ve got a hankering for something sweet, eating some fruit or a piece of dark chocolate is a better strategy.
- Nutritionists also recommend avoiding all hyper-processed packaged desserts that comes in a wrapper, like a mass-manufactured cookie loaded with preservatives.
Nutritionists are not here to torture you. Dietitian Jason Ewoldt from the Mayo Clinic says when it comes to healthy eating, deprivation is not a winning strategy.
“We try to enlighten people about the foods they should be focusing more on, instead of restricting,” he previously told Business Insider.
Likewise, Sharon Palmer, dietitian and author of the book Plant Powered for Life, encourages people to enjoy eating healthy whole foods, like fruits, nuts, seeds, and whole grains.
Both Ewoldt and Palmer agree it’s important to remember which foods are actually providing the key nutrients that help get our bodies through the day. These foods help keep us full quite naturally, by virtue of the fact they contain beneficial amounts of fiber, fat, and protein.
Here are the two foods nutritionists agree it’s best to avoid, and some that they recommend.
Drinks loaded with sugar don’t do anything beneficial for your health
- 0306PAT / Shutterstock
The first one is pretty straightforward: sweet drinks.
Just because you don’t drink soda or sweet tea doesn’t mean you’re not at risk for health problems including weight gain, heart disease, and gout. Sugary mocha coffees and sweet blended beverages like smoothies and frappuccinos are also loaded with sugar.
“There’s some pretty good evidence that when we drink liquid calories, like in the sugary beverages, we don’t eat less food as a result,” nutrition professor Jean Welsh from Emory University previously told Business Insider.
This is why people sometimes refer to sweet beverages as “empty calories.” They pack on extra heft and can temporarily raise blood sugar without giving people any of the good stuff that our bodies need to survive, including key nutrients like fiber that slow digestion and keep us satisfied for hours.
Instead, she suggests incorporating whole fruits into your diet if you’re craving something sweet.
“Fruit we have pretty consistently seen is generally associated with healthy outcomes,” she said. This may be because there’s something special about the way fruit sugars are absorbed that make them less harmful.
Avoid processed sweet treats like pre-packaged cookies
Nutrition experts also recommend avoiding processed, pre-packaged sweet treats. This could be anything from a squishy Twinkie packed in crinkly cellophane to a slice of cake that was made in a factory and infused with preservatives.
Eating more processed foods is associated with more cancer risk, and sugary sweets are some of the worst offenders – a double whammy of white sugar and shelf-stabilizing ingredients.
Quick treats like packaged cookies can be tough to avoid when we’re busy and hungry. A recent survey of more than 104,000 French people found that more adults are indulging in sweet, processed snacks in between meals than ever before. Having these types of energy-dense, sugary, salty, and fatty foods on hand can lead people to overeat.
There are plenty of delicious foods that are better for you than sweet beverages and mass-manufactured cookies
Ewoldt says having the right kinds of foods chopped and pre-portioned to take on the go “makes healthy eating a heckuva lot more attainable.”
If you’re craving something sweet, go for a bit of dark chocolate, which is relatively low in sugar but high in cocoa flavonoids – beneficial plant chemicals which help keep our cells healthy.
If chocolate and fruit are not your thing, have a yogurt instead, which some studies suggest can help keep your appetite in check. Try to choose a yogurt that’s naturally low in sugar. You can always sprinkle some nuts, seeds, berries or spices like cinnamon and nutmeg on top for a nutritious flavor kick. For a savory treat, bring a cheese stick to work.
Both yogurt and cheese are filling, and there’s new evidence that the fat structures in cheese can be better for the heart than other dairy sources like butter.
- Read more:
- A disturbing side-by-side look at how much fat, sugar, produce, and grains we eat each day – versus how much we should
- 39 delicious foods that are linked to a lower risk of cancer
- 18 simple tricks people around the world use to avoid gaining weight
- A Harvard doctor says it’s harder than ever to lose weight right now, but there are 5 ways to do it well