Maintaining a healthy weight goes far beyond beauty. Yes, you may be trying to trim down for summer, but there are many more reasons to lose weight. If you find it exceedingly difficult to shed pounds despite adequate exercise, your diet is almost certainly to blame. Read on to find out why weight loss can be conducive to a healthy lifestyle, as well as which foods you may have to remove from your diet if you want to succeed.

A Healthy Weight Promotes Health and Long Life

Obesity is one of the leading causes of preventable death in the United States, second only to tobacco. Even if you are not obese, excess weight can attribute to a number of other health conditions, such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, inflammation, arthritis, and even cancer. In short, it’s just not healthy to be overweight.

With that being said, it may not be healthy to strive for a “model thin” body either. According to a massive study performed by the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, a healthy body mass index between 18.5 and 25 could add years (even decades!) to your life span. That means that if 35 year old woman with a height of 5 ft, 4 in weighs 135 pounds, she is considered healthy. A healthy weight should not be measured according to how flat your stomach is or what size your pants are. While these may be admirable goals to shoot for, do not hinge your health on a size or measurement. Instead, take a good look at your BMI , diet, lifestyle, and habits. A combination of all these factors will determine your overall health and wellness. Today, let’s focus on diet.

stop junk food to lose weightFive Foods to Eliminate from Your Diet Right Now

Especially if you’re having a hard time losing weight, some diet changes will be absolutely necessary. In fact, removing some of these foods can have greater benefits than weight loss. Improving your overall nutrition and eliminating toxins can also promote good digestion, energy levels, sleep patterns, and prevent diseases. Here are some things you need to stop eating right now:

1. Refined or Enriched Grains

This is a hard one, we know. Most pastas, rice, breads, and cereals contain some amount of refined grains. Even so-called “enriched” grains like enriched wheat flour have been stripped of natural nutrients, only to have artificial vitamins and minerals added in later. Some natural whole grains like organic quinoa are packed with important nutrients, but you have to look carefully at the ingredients in any grain-based products to ascertain if they are truly 100% whole grain. Replace white rice and breads with natural, whole-grain varieties. In some recipes, like pasta, you can even replace refined grain pasta with homemade vegetable noodles.

2. Refined Sugars

We’re betting you’ve heard this before, but removing refined sugar from your diet requires more effort than bypassing cake. Refined sugars are used to sweeten many sauces and condiments, flavored yogurts, as well as most frozen coffee beverages. Sugars hide in many everyday foods that you may not necessarily define as dessert or sweets. If you’re craving something sweet, opt for natural sweeteners like raw honey, organic maple syrup, or pure ground stevia leaves.

3. Sweet Drinks and Bottled Juice

Speaking of sugar, let’s talk specifically about drinks. Everyone knows that soft drinks and artificially flavored beverages like Kool-Aid are packed with sugar, but other drinks such as bottled fruit juices are often considered healthier alternatives. Unfortunately, this is usually not the case. Almost all store-bought and pre-bottled fruit juices are processed and crammed with sugar. While eating the whole fruit is usually the healthier option, if you or your family loves juice, use a juicer to extract it naturally or purchase fresh juice at a local juice counter. Also think about sugar content when ordering your favorite coffee or tea-based drinks at the coffee shop. If in doubt, ask which options are sugar-free.

4. Fried Foods

This is another obvious suggestion, but one that many people ignore. Unless the food is cooked in an air fryer or pan-fried with a small amount of butter or heat-tolerant natural oil, most fried fare is excessively high in calories and unhealthy fats. Seafood, hot wings, side dishes, and restaurant appetizers often come fried, so take a close look when ordering out. As for pre-packaged fried snacks like chips, they are not very filling and usually leave you feeling hungry for more junk food. Finally, watch out for sneaky snacks that pretend to be healthy, such as plantain chips. They may be fruit-based, but they are just as fried and unhealthy as potato chips!

5. Processed Foods

Whether you’re trying to lose weight or just improve nutritional habits, fresh is always best. Pre-packaged and processed foods may save time, but they make up for it in toxins, unhealthy fats, and hidden sugars. Freezing fresh whole fruit or unprocessed raw meat may not greatly affect the nutritional value, but there are some foods that may be processed to the point of no return, such as:

  • Processed meats, such as sausage and cold cuts
  • Pre-prepared meals like frozen lasagna or boxed dinner kits
  • Granola snacks and protein bars
  • Fruit snacks
  • Conventional condiments like margarine,  ketchup, and mayonnaise
  • Breakfast cereals and instant oatmeal

The sad fact is, the base ingredients of many of the foods above are not unhealthy; it’s the processing and preserving that makes them so unwholesome. Some things, like granola bars, oatmeal, and fruit snacks, you can recreate at home with natural ingredients and minimal effort. For other products like sausage, sandwich meat, and even cereal, go to your local health food store or farmers market and ask about organic farms in the area that may provide all-natural, unprocessed alternatives to your favorite processed foods.

Additional Resources

In addition to a healthy diet and active lifestyle, some herbal supplements can also help to optimize weight loss efforts. Check them out in the Living Clean store, or read more about fitness on the blog:

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