Trying to Prevent Obesity? Avoid These 15 Foods and Beverages

Obesity is a major problem in the United States, with seven states having an obesity rate of at least 35%. Regardless of whether you live in one of them, nearly every state in the U.S. has some kind of obesity problem. If you’re trying not to be a part of the statistic, there are certain foods you should definitely avoid. Here are 15 foods and beverages you won’t want to consume if you’re working to prevent obesity.

Obesity BMI

Obesity is a major problem in the United States. | Mashot/Getty Images

White bread

Sourdough Bread

White bread is loaded with sugar. | janetleerhodes/Getty Images

White bread is delicious, but it’s far from healthy. It’s high in simple carbohydrates, which means it’s also high in sugars. These sugars break down quickly in the body, giving you a spike in blood sugar and forcing the sugar to be stored somewhere. It ends up in fat cells, which can make you put on weight over time. Opt for whole wheat bread instead of white, which breaks down slower in the digestive system and releases sugars over an extended period of time.

Next: This food is healthy in moderation, but too much is a very bad thing. 

Cheese

mac and cheese

Macaroni and cheese is delicious — but not healthy. | IgorDutina/iStock/Getty Images

Before you get upset over having to give up cheese, know that it’s all in how you eat it. In moderation, cheese actually has many health benefits. The problem is Americans eat too much of it. Since cheese is high in fat, you only need about an ounce to get its protein and calcium benefits. Anything more than that, and cheese becomes unhealthy. Digging into a bowl of macaroni and cheese or cooking yourself a grilled cheese on white bread isn’t the best way to get its nutrients. Instead, sprinkle feta or goat cheese over a salad for a healthy, cheesy twist.

Next: This type of sweet treat is one you’ll want to avoid. 

Milk chocolate

A bowl with chocolate coated raisins

Always choose dark chocolate over milk chocolate. | Esdelval/Getty Images

You’ve likely heard at some point in your life that chocolate is healthy. This is true — for dark chocolate. Unfortunately, milk chocolate has added ingredients, such as whole milk and sugar, that up its fat, calorie, and sugar content. Although its sweeter than its darker counterpart, it also isn’t nearly as healthy. Rather than indulge in a milk chocolate candy bar, enjoy an ounce of dark chocolate each night with a glass of red wine to promote heart health. Stick with just an ounce, though, for optimal nutritional benefits.

Next: There are ways to make this healthy — but takeout isn’t one of them. 

Takeout pizza

Half pepperoni half sausage pizza

Cook your own pizza for a healthier meal. | Joe_Potato/iStock/Getty Images

Ordering a couple of pizzas for the family on a Friday night is normal, but it’s not healthy. While pizza does have tomato sauce and cheese, which both have health benefits of their own, it’s also loaded with carbohydrates, sodium, and fat. If you’re watching your weight, its best to avoid picking up the phone and ordering takeout. However, you can still eat pizza. Purchase some whole wheat dough at the grocery store (you truly won’t notice the difference) and add healthy toppings, such as low-sodium tomato sauce, part-skim mozzarella, and veggies.

Next: Avoid anything with this.

Anything breaded

Homemade Southern Fried Chicken

Fried chicken won’t do you any health favors. | iStock.com/bhofack2

Breaded often equals fried, and you definitely want to avoid anything fried if you’re watching your weight. Fried foods are high in trans fats, which are “manmade” fats and the worst kind you can eat because they’re not natural at all. Even if you cook your breaded food in the oven instead of frying it, those bread crumbs still load up the meal with extra carbs and calories. Avoid breaded chicken and opt for plain, grilled chicken instead — you can find a low-calorie sauce to add a little more flavor.

Next: This may be one of the most delicious foods ever — but it isn’t good for you. 

Bacon

making bacon in oven kitchen

Bacon is full of fat and cholesterol. | rez-art/iStock/Getty Images

For a lot of people, bacon is pure joy. But behind that joy is a lot of grease — and unhealthy fats. If you want to add one slice of bacon to a sandwich, you can get away with it, since it’s a good source of protein. But since most people can’t stick to just one slice, it’s best to avoid it altogether. Bacon’s fat is about 40% saturated (the bad fat), which is far more than one food should contain. Plus, it’s high in cholesterol and sodium. Try swapping it out for turkey bacon for a healthier option.

Next: These make for a speedy lunch, albeit an unhealthy one. 

Cold cuts

Salami

Cold cuts, such as salami, are loaded with sodium and nitrates. | Tolisma/iStock/Getty Images

Cold cuts are easy — you can whip up a quick sandwich in no time. But they’re also loaded with sodium. Sodium causes the fluid to be flushed out of the blood cells, which means the heart has to work harder to push blood throughout the body. High-sodium foods add unnecessary strain on the heart, which can lead to heart disease or heart failure over time. Plus, cold cuts are loaded with fat, which makes them a poor food choice for someone who is serious about watching their weight. Studies have also shown cold cuts may lead to cancer.

Next: This food has similar consequences to bread. 

Pasta

Creamy chicken pasta

Opt for whole wheat pasta instead of white. | ryzhkov/iStock/Getty Images

White pasta is similar to bread in that it’s loaded with simple carbohydrates, but its glycemic index isn’t quite as high, which means it won’t turn into fat the same way white bread can. However, overall, it’s still not good for you, since it has a ton of sugar, which can ultimately still lead to weight gain. Substitute white pasta for whole wheat (or at least substitute half of your white pasta for whole wheat) to cut back on the simple sugars.

Next: This isn’t the best meal to make on a cold winter’s night.  

Creamy soup

leek and potato soup and ingredients on wooden cutting board

Avoid creamy soups. | ClaudioVentrella/iStock/Getty IMages

Creamy soups are typically made with heavy cream — a very fattening ingredient. Plus, canned soup is often loaded with sodium. While Cream of Chicken might be just what you’re craving on a cold day, it’s definitely not the best option for someone trying to prevent obesity. This soup typically contains around seven grams of fat per half cup, and when you’re craving a big bowl, you can expect to eat at least double that. Most soup brands offer healthier options, which is usually noted on the label, so look for those instead.

Next: This adds a little something to sandwiches, but it also adds a lot of fat. 

Mayonnaise

Traditional Russian mayonnaise salad "Olivier"

Don’t overindulge in mayonnaise-based foods. | Elena_Danileiko/iStock/Getty Images

Mayonnaise is a staple on most sandwiches and in most dips. But it’s loaded with fat — around 10 grams per tablespoon, plus around 100 calories in the same amount. While it might add the perfect touch to your sandwich, it’s something you’ll want to avoid if you’re watching your weight. Plus, most dips and dressings are mayonnaise-based, so watch yourself when you’re at happy hour and even when you’re choosing the best dressing for your salad.

Next: This can be a quick and easy breakfast, but you need to choose the right kind. 

Flavored cereal

Woman pouring milk onto cereal

Flavored, sugary cereals should be avoided. | Image_Source_/Getty Images

Any type of chocolaty or flavored cereal is one you should avoid. Flavored cereals are often loaded with sugars. Plus, just like bread, they’re typically full of carbs (which only adds to the sugar intake). There are many healthy cereals on the market, such as Life or Special K, but avoid the Reese’s Puffs and Lucky Charms. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, so it’s important to incorporate healthy foods in order to keep your weight in check.

Next: This coffee shop is convenient but has many unhealthy options. 

Your favorite Starbucks drink

Caramel-topped frappe

Sweet coffee drinks are loaded with fats and sugars. | Siraphol/ iStock/Getty Images Plus

Starbucks might be your morning go-to, but there are plenty of menu items you should avoid. If you want just a standard coffee, you’re safe (as long as you don’t load it up with cream and sugar). But some Starbucks menu items, such as the caramel Frappuccino, are teeming with fat and sugar. A grande caramel Frappuccino contains 15 grams of fat, 67 grams of carbs, and 66 grams of sugar — yikes. Opt for a plain coffee most days, and only treat yourself to a sweeter drink every once in a blue moon.

Next: If it only takes this long to prepare, it probably isn’t healthy. 

Anything you can order in less than five minutes

fast food

Fast food should be avoided. | Mukhina1/Getty Images

Fast food of any kind isn’t healthy. While there are always some exceptions to the rule, after finding out that a small order of Panera Bread’s macaroni and cheese contains nearly a full day’s worth of sodium, it can be assumed that if it’s ready in less than five minutes, it isn’t healthy. Cooking your own meals is the only way to ensure you’re not accidentally ingesting way more fat, calories, sugar, etc. than you intended. If you don’t think you’ll have time to make lunch or dinner one night, try to meal prep at the beginning of the week to have some grab-and-go meals on hand.

Next: This beverage is an obvious one to avoid. 

Soda

Soda

Soft drinks are always a no. | Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

This goes without saying, but soda is absolutely loaded with sugar. That sugar creates an insulin spike, plus stores itself in fat molecules and only adds to weight gain. Drinking diet soda isn’t much healthier, so avoid this sugary drink altogether. Try flavoring carbonated water with fresh fruit for a sweet, fizzy beverage. When you’re out at a restaurant, order a glass of unsweetened iced tea or sparkling water instead.

Next: The right kind — in moderation — can be healthy, but for the most part, steer clear of this. 

Alcohol

A line of different colored alcoholic cocktails

Most alcohol only provides empty calories and not much else. | Tsuguliev/Getty Images

Alcohol is loaded with empty calories. Unless you’re sticking to one glass of red wine per night, it’s best to avoid it. There are some beers that are lower in calories than others, but for the most part, there is a reason they refer to belly fat as a “beer gut.” The problem with alcohol? It’s easy to overindulge. Once you get a slight buzz, you want more. Stick to one drink per night. If you’re only drinking one night of the week, don’t have more than three or four.

Check out The Cheat Sheet on Facebook!