Changing your lifelong eating habits can be a real challenge. I know the struggle all too well. It doesn’t make it easier when society worships unhealthy foods, or when these foods are genetically modified to get us to crave them in a very unhealthy way.

For good nutrition. cut out refined grains, refined sugars and overly processed foods

Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE food more than the next person. Even the not-so-healthy kind #foodieforlife. Once I realized that my health issues were taking over my life, I took a step back and educated myself on what was in the foods that I was eating and how it was affecting my body. Doing my own research and learning about the importance of good nutrition motivated me to make a lifestyle change.

There are many foods out there that are categorized as inherently unhealthy like fast food, but I want to talk about foods that are not so obviously unhealthy. So here’s a little bit of what I’ve learned along the way featuring the unhealthy foods that you should try to cut back on.

• Refined grains

Examples: White bread, white pasta, white rice, anything made with white flour

YES, I know what you’re thinking – many of these foods were my BFFs once upon a time too. The Hispanic in me cringes at the sight of white rice making the list!

But did you know that refined grains are low in essential nutrients and cause your blood sugar to spike? Like all of the foods on this list, they are stripped of their vitamins and minerals to increase their shelf life. Essentially, refined grains are empty calories with no nutritional value.

Alternatives: Whole wheat, sprouted, and Ezequiel bread, whole wheat pasta, brown rice, quinoa

• Refined sugars

Examples: fruit juices, cookies, cereal, syrup, flavored yogurt

For good nutrition, cut back on refined sugar

I hate to admit but I have the biggest sweet tooth EVER. I’ve met people that don’t like sweets and I’m so shocked that that can even be possible!

If you are like me, try to cut down on refined sugar slowly. Refined sugars are natural sugars but modified and processed, and offer no nutritional value.

Did you know that the average American takes in 22 teaspoons of sugar daily – more than the three times the suggested amount by American Heart Association? The examples I gave above are foods filled with refined sugars, but refined sugar can also be one of the hardest foods to avoid because it tends to hide in common foods.

Check out Dr. Axe’s list on great alternatives for the refined sugar ingredient in your food.

• Overly processed foods

Examples: packaged meats (ham, hotdogs, sausages, etc.), canned meats, frozen dinners, packaged baked goods

I’ve gotten into the habit of looking at the ingredient list on the back of foods and sometimes I’m like whatttt? How can one thing have so many ingredients that I don’t even recognize?
Overly processed foods are loaded with artificial chemicals to help with preservation. I don’t know about you but I want to limit the chemicals in my body NOT increase them. Generally, my rule of thumb is the less ingredients the better. Always check the ingredient list!

Alternatives: chicken, turkey fillets, eggs, beans, hummus

Most of these unhealthy foods are quick and easy. I’m all for quick and easy but I’ve learned (and I’m still learning) the importance of good nutrition by recognizing that my body needs the nutrients eating whole and real foods provide. If that means doing a little extra work to give my body what it needs to stay healthy, then I’ll gladly do what needs to be done.

Of course, I indulge occasionally (I’m only human) but I remind myself that being healthy is not about being 100% perfect. I don’t try to be perfect! If I tried to be perfect, that would be in itself detrimental to my wellness. I try to eat as healthy as possible almost all of the time because it makes me feel great and I know that I’m giving my body the nutrients it needs to thrive.

So next time you’re making your grocery list or eating out, try to be more conscious of what you’re putting in your body and take control of your health one small step at a time.

Since this list is not all-inclusive, what other unhealthy foods do you limit or avoid to get your body feeling great?

This website is written for informational purposes only. The views and opinions expressed on this site are my own. Nutrition advice should be customized and my advice may not be right for you. Please speak to a medical professional before making any changes to your diet.

I started meal prepping two years ago and it has literally changed my life for the better. Before meal prep, I opted for the fastest and easiest meal I could throw together. Once I started going to the gym consistently, I knew I needed to find a better way to nourish my body and create healthier eating habits.

Meal prepping 101: Beginner tips for easy meal prep

There are a lot of misconceptions about meal prep but I’m here to tell you that it will only make your life easier by saving you time, money and stress! When I first started, I had no idea what I was doing but after two years of consistency I’d like to consider myself a meal prepping machine. So here’s the low down on meal prepping 101 with my favorite easy meal prep tips.

  • Keep it simple

It’s easy to get burnt out when you’re just starting out meal prep. To avoid this, stick to food you know how to make. I don’t love to spend hours upon hours in the kitchen, so simplicity in my meals is my best friend. Since I meal prep both my lunch and dinner, I make sure to first choose what protein I want for each meal. Then I pick two vegetables or starches for each meal to complement my protein source.

Remember, it’s all about creating healthier eating habits so don’t overcomplicate. There are so many ways to make your simple meal delicious, so stick what you know when you’re starting out!

  • Find what works for you

How you meal prep will be based on your lifestyle, goals and preferences. Play around with what day you make your meals, how many meals you make per week, and how you choose to assemble them.

Do you prefer to make half your meals on Sunday and then make the rest on Wednesday? Or do you want to hash them all out on Sunday? Find out what works best for you so it’s easier for you to stick to your plan. Are you going to start out by making ALL your meals or only lunch and dinner? Will you have a set menu or will you assemble your meals with varying foods before eating? There are so many ways to customize meal prep to fit your life, you just have to experiment.

  • Plan ahead

Okay, so you’ve probably heard this a thousand times but planning ahead is crucial for meal prep success. Having no action plan will make grocery shopping stressful and last longer than it should. I find that I am more motivated when I do my planning on Saturdays and my cooking on Sundays. That splits up the work that I have to do and it doesn’t feel like such a chore on a day that I just want to relax. I find that using my phone for a grocery list allows me to instantly mark things off and I won’t have to worry about ever forgetting my list. Grocery list tip: list your items based on where they are physically located in the store – that way as your making your way everything you need will be at arm’s reach!

Meal prepping 101: Plan ahead for easy meal prep

  • Stay flexible & motivated

Meal prep on some weeks is going to be easier than others. Since I work a 9-5, I meal prep during the weekend. But some weekends are so eventful that it’s hard for me to find the time to get it done. If this happens, I’ll dedicate my Monday night to grocery shopping and meal prep. It’s not my favorite way to do it but I stay motivated in knowing that it’ll save me so much time, money and stress during the week. Don’t stress out and throw in the towel if your life gets in the way. Be flexible and move things around to fit your meal prep around your life!

  • Make clean up easy

If you’re like me and you hate the cleaning part of cooking, you’re going to want to get your hands on aluminum foil and parchment paper. A lot of your meals will be made in the oven, so lining your trays with first aluminum paper and then a sheet of parchment paper will cut down your cleaning time immensely. Some people like to just use aluminum foil but according to a 2012 study published in the International Journal of Electrochemical Science, the aluminum can leech onto your food depending on different factors. To avoid the increased health risk, I counter this by putting a sheet of parchment paper on top.

Once you start meal prepping consistently, you will realize that the time and effort are truly worth the benefits to help you create healthier eating habits. Now that you know my favorite easy meal prep tips, what are some of yours?