Easier than whipping up an omelette and faster than brewing a cup of coffee, cereal is a breakfast favorite. But when it comes to offering the vitamins and minerals your body craves to start the day right, registered dietitian and nutritionist, Gisela Bouvier, RDN, advises stepping away from the box. “Dry cereals were created to be easy breakfast foods targeted to kids. However, cereals are very high in carbohydrates and offer very little, if any, protein and heart healthy fats. Most also have a lot of added sugars and lack fiber,” she explains. “As a dietitian, I never recommend dry cereals to clients. Instead, I recommend nutrient-dense complex carbohydrates, such as slow-cooked oatmeal or whole-grain toast.”
Regular peanut butter
Forget the uptick in peanut allergies in recent years, or the fact that some folks report increased acne breakouts after eating some PB, there’s even more of a reason to pass on this nut butter, according to Bouvier. Or at the very least, be a lot more selective about what you buy.
“While it does contain heart-healthy fats and is a quality plant-based protein, it is important to know that not all peanut butters are created equal. Most commercial peanut butters contain added sugar and oils, particularly partially hydrogenated oils. Partially hydrogenated oils are another name for trans fat, which have been linked to cardiovascular disease and other diseases. Unfortunately, when there is less than 0.5 grams of partially hydrogenated oils per serving in a food item, manufacturers are not required to put trans fat on their food labels,” she explains. “As a dietitian, I recommend to read the list of ingredients when purchasing peanut butter or any nut butters in general. When possible, simply look for ‘peanuts’ in the ingredient list or ‘peanuts, salt.’” Make sure you know whether your packaged foods might have hidden saturated fats.
Frozen diet dinners
It’s tempting—especially when you get home late and the kids still need a baths—to defrost a frozen-food meal. The convenience isn’t the question, but the nutritional value definitely is. “Many frozen diet dinners claim to be low calorie and healthy. However, most are loaded with sodium and artificial ingredients, and they are also light on the nutrients,” Bouvier says.