After a long day at work, nothing sounds better than heading home for a night of pure relaxation. Unfortunately, though, most of us don’t have that luxury. Heading home means exchanging busy work tasks with home chores. Cleaning the house, doing the laundry, taking care of the kids and who can forget dinner?
And while something homemade and delicious is the dinner ideal, that just isn’t always possible. Your mind then shifts from healthy and balanced to cheap and easy. So, what options does that leave you with? Something heavily processed. That’s right; we’re talking about your weeknight favorites of frozen pizza and pre-made sides.
It’s time to put down the processed food, though, and try picking up these healthy alternatives instead—your body and health will thank you for it.
The first foods to avoid are processed meats, like hot dogs and deli cold cuts (salami and bologna). Even those labeled low calorie are likely to have questionable preservatives, such as salts and nitrates. On top of that, studies show that these are the worst types of meats for your heart.
Alternative:Try freshly prepared turkey and chicken instead. In a hurry? A rotisserie chicken cooked at your favorite market is a good alternative.
Next, pass on processed foods made with refined flour. These include typical breakfast cereals, white breads and similar baked goods.
Alternative:Opt for those that have stone-ground flour, whole-grains or steel-cut oats. This doesn’t just apply to breads and cereals, though. You can use whole grains like barley, brown or wild rice, couscous, polenta and quinoa as side dishes, too. Oh, and don’t forget the whole-wheat pasta.
If you’re one of those people that loves to slather on the mayonnaise, or gourmaise for those of you who swear off mayonnaise, you may be overlooking a surprising amount of calories and fat.
Alternative:Try a mashed slice of avocado instead. Not only is avocado surprisingly versatile, it’s also dense in a wide number of nutrients.
When you’re craving something salty and crunchy, a bag of chips is hard to resist. And maybe if it was possible to only eat one serving, they wouldn’t be so dangerous, but many of us can’t stop after just a few chips.
Alternative:Try crunching on an ounce of nuts. For only a slight difference in calories, you get protein, healthy fats and fiber.
Bottled salad dressings—even diet or low-fat versions—often have corn syrup along with many additives.
Alternative:Whisk up your own vinaigrette with extra virgin olive oil and vinegar, or try nonfat yogurt with lemon juice, herbs and garlic.
Keeping It Real
If there’s one thing we can all relate to, it’s that time is in short supply during the work week. One way to combat the time crunch is to set aside a couple of hours on the weekend to make a few dishes that will last all week, like roasted turkey breast, salsa with fresh tomatoes or some spicy chili. Not only are these dishes delicious, they'll also keep your tummy filled with fresh, real food, instead of something processed.
For more ideas on how to eat healthier, GMC’s Nutrition & Weight Management experts can help. With knowledgeable dietitians who can customize a nutrition plan to meet your unique needs, you’ll enjoy all the great benefits that a healthy diet can provide. Start feeling your best today by setting up a nutrition consultation.