The standard American diet has changed tremendously over the past decades to include more processed foods heavy in refined flours and sugars. Since the 1970s, Americans have been eating fewer fats and more carbohydrates. The Nutrition & Metabolism Society, an independent non-profit health organization, believes carbohydrates from processed foods are responsible for the increased obesity rates. Avoid processed foods, which often contain white flour, refined sugars or both, to help yourself achieve a healthier weight and prevent diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.
Most breads are made, either entirely or at least partly, with white flour. As listed in the ingredients, white flour, wheat flour and enriched flour all are synonyms for refined flour. Even breads that are labelled as being “whole wheat” or “whole grain” can contain a significant portion of white flour. Read the ingredient list and look for breads containing only “whole wheat” flour to decrease the amount of refined carbohydrates in your diet.
Breakfast cereals can be more like breakfast candies than anything else. Loaded with white flour, most often from wheat, corn or rice, and refined sugars, such as high-fructose corn syrup, most breakfast cereals are not a good way to start the day. If you have diabetes or blood sugar issues, your blood sugar levels may rise to dangerously high levels after your meal and then crash within a few hours. Oat-based cereals are generally made from the whole grain, which makes them a better option unless they also contain refined sugars. Read the ingredient list carefully or opt for plain oatmeal or steel-cut oats for a healthier, low-glycemic breakfast option.
The main ingredients found in baked goods are white flour and refined sugars. On top of being packed with refined carbohydrates, these processed treats often contain trans fat from shortening or hydrogenated oils, making them a very unhealthy combo that can increase your risk of developing type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. Avoid donuts, cakes, commercial muffins, cookies, scones, pies and other pastries. To satisfy your sweet tooth, have a few pieces of dark chocolate or a fruit, or make your own healthier version of your favorite baked goods using less-refined sugars such as maple syrup or honey, and high-fiber, unrefined flours.
Pasta and Pizza
Whether you usually get Italian food when eating out or prepare it yourself at home, both pasta and pizza contain a significant amount of processed ingredients. The dough of the pizza and the pasta itself are almost always made of white wheat flour. Even if you get a whole grain pizza or pasta, it won’t be made from 100 percent whole grain flour, but rather from a mixture or white flour and whole grain flour. Pizza sauce and tomato-based pasta sauce also contain refined sugars, often in the form of high-fructose corn syrup, sucrose or glucose. Try to make your pizza and pasta from scratch to avoid these refined carbohydrates or get Italian antipastos instead.