We’ve learned that certain foods keep us full longer because they’re full of healthful properties (like fiber) that trick the stomach into thinking it’s more full than it is. Ah, a wonderful illusion, indeed. But what about the foods that we consume mindlessly? One or two might not yield any real damage, but, c’mon, we’re human. I know I can’t have just one or two french fries, and I’m willing to bet it’s a challenge for you, too. Below, we’ve outlined a few foods that are chalk-full of empty calories and keep you hungry for more, and healthy alternatives to avoid them.
• FRENCH FRIES
Deprivation is deadly. We might be able to abstain from certain foods for a while, but inevitably the cravings get the best of us. French fries are a startling example. They may be crunchy, salty, and delicious, but Kate Brown, a certified nutritionist, explained that “although school districts consider french fries a vegetable, they are really just starchy simple carbs that are fried, salted, and dipped in high fructose corn syrup (ketchup).”
The Alternative: Rather than munch on a giant bowl of these bad boys on the couch, try dipping a few celery sticks in peanut butter. The texture of the celery gives that crunch that we all crave, and dipping them in peanut butter adds a delicious and nutritional incentive.
• CHINESE TAKE-OUT
How does the old adage go? Eat Chinese and you’re hungry an hour later? Something like that. Anyway, chinese take out is, at best, a temporary stomach stuffer. Often, that orange chicken you just ordered is loaded with MSG, an additive that enhances flavor, but also appetite.
The Alternative: If you love the flavors used in Americanized-Chinese cuisine, try making a few easy changes to make the meal healthier and more satiating. Try making your own version of Chow Mein, but instead of white noodles, try using a whole-wheat pasta and toss with pea shoots, edamame, broccoli, and other stir-fry friendly ingredients. Feel free to add in some all-white meat, grilled chicken for added protein too.
Some of us love indulging in carbs first thing in the morning, but you’ll likely be reaching for something the minute you get to the office. Breakfast pastries like croissants and muffins are not only full of fat, but if you’ve picked one up from your local convenience store or 7/11, chances are they’re also loaded with harmful preservatives. Not to mention that your tummy will be crying out for more food after the sugar rush dies down.
The Alternative: If carbs are your achilles heel, try substituting your pan au chocolate for a healthy breakfast bar. Brand Kind makes all natural, gluten and dairy free bars in a variety of flavors, and they’re my go-to in the morning. The Apple-Cinnamon flavor is loaded with fiber, which keeps me — and my brain — functioning until lunch time.
• PROCESSED CEREALS
Cereal’s a quick, easy solution in the morning when you’re running late or attempting to get the kids ready for school and out the door. The sad truth, though, is that many of the ones on the shelves are loaded with sugar and preservatives, and have very little nutritional value.
The Alternative: At first glance, oatmeal may seem like a drab alternative, but think about all the ways that you could dress it up and tantalize your taste buds! Fruits like bananas, strawberries, apples, and blueberries all compliment your bowl of oats deliciously, but if you’re looking for something saltier, try a handful of almonds, cashews, or walnuts. Add a small amount of Stevia extract or brown sugar to taste, and you’ve got a fiber-fueled breakfast guaranteed to fill you up.