25 February 2014 10 Things to Clear Out of Your Pantry

Despite the January buzz about New Year's diet resolutions, surveys show that people don't actually start those diets until March. This is the perfect time to get a jump on March by cleaning the diet sabotaging items out of your refrigerator and pantry. After all, it's easier to stick to a plan if you aren't face to face with tempting treats in your home.

Here's a list of 10 items you can (and should) easily do without:

1. Chips. Don't be fooled by labels that claim the chips are “low sodium”, “organic”, “natural” or “reduced fat”. They're still full of calories. And don't fall for chips made out of vegetables. Chips are practically designed to make you eat too many. They're delicious, and very very low in water content. So they're not at all filling. You can inhale several hundred calories before you even notice how much you've eaten. Try doing that with broccoli or apples.

2. Sugary soft drinks: whether soda pop or fruit drinks, sugar adds empty calories that sabotage your diet. Plain water is the best choice, as well as seltzer, club soda and plain iced tea.

3. Canned frosting: it's just too easy to open the container and get out a spoon. A really bad thing to keep around if you're trying to eat healthier. Similar items: marshmallow fluff, nacho cheese sauce and prepared puddings.

4. Flavored popcorn: Butter, cheese, caramel and other high fat/high sugar microwave popcorn varieties have unnecessary extra calories, as well as sodium. Plain popcorn is the best choice. Add your own salt, if necessary.

5. Sugary cereals: Vitamin fortification does not make these types of cereals a nutritious choice. Not to mention, it's never a good idea to start the day by eating a lot of sugar. And because they are low fiber, they're not filling. The best cereals are unsweetened varieties like shredded wheat, bran or oatmeal.

6. Pastries and doughnuts. If you're trying to control your weight, there's no room for boxes of doughnuts, cinnamon rolls and pastries in your pantry. If you must occasionally have one of those treats, buy an individual one, not an entire box.

7. Ice cream and candy: This may sound like a no-brainer, since these are tempting and easy to binge on. But plenty of dieters keep these foods around with the excuse that “they're for guests” or “for the kids”. Guess who ends up eating it all? The dieter. Clear it out.

8. Boxes and bags of cookies: It's hard to eat just one. And before you know it, you've eaten half the bag. So just clear them out of the kitchen. If they're not there, you can't mindlessly snack on them. Stock up on pre-cut vegetables instead.

9. Frozen microwavable snack foods: mini-pizzas, burritos, potato puffs, sliders, corn dogs, chicken nuggets, deep fried cheese puffs and the like. They may look small and sound like a great snack idea, but they're high In calories and low in nutrition. And because they're easily prepared, it's easy to eat too many at one time.

10. “Granola” or breakfast bars that are really just candy: One clue that your bar is candy: frosting. Another clue: chocolate chips or marshmallow bits. Another: sugary fruit-flavored filling. A high sugar bar is not a good meal choice, especially a breakfast choice. Toaster pastries are just as bad. If you need a convenient snack or breakfast food, choose plain nuts or a PB&J on whole wheat bread.

11. BONUS ITEM -- Rancid oils: This isn't so much a dieter's issue as a general health issue. Rancid oil is not healthy. If you keep half-used bottles of oil in the pantry for months, they could be rancid. You'll know by the harsh off-putting odor when you open the bottle. If you don't use up oil very quickly, keep opened bottles in the refrigerator. And buy smaller bottles.

Donna P. Feldman MS RDN

Nutrition journalist at Radio Nutrition

Co-host: Walk Talk Nutrition podcast.

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Disclaimer: The information provided here does not constitute medical advice. If you are seeking medical advice, please visit your healthcare provider or medical professional.

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