10 Pantry Foods to Pitch for a Healthier Diet
When hunger hits, what’s stocked in your pantry is ultimately what ends up on your plate. And if you’re like most people, some not-so-good options sneak into your kitchen. Make a clean sweep of your eating habits, starting with pitching these unhealthy foods from your pantry in favor of more diabetes-friendly swaps.
What's Lurking in Your Pantry?
A pantry is supposed to help you prepare meals, but if it’s stocked with foods containing lots of empty calories, it’s not helpful. Search your shelves for these 10 items, and toss them in favor of more healthful options.
Ready-made graham cracker and cookie-crumb piecrusts are often laced with artery-clogging trans fat. In fact, some crumb-style crusts pack as much as 2.5 grams of trans fat per serving, which ranks them near the top of the list of trans-fat-laden foods.
Healthy Swap: Try our Lemon Tart with Ginger-Oat Crust recipe that has no trans fat and only 223 calories per serving.
Whether sold in shelf-stable blocks, jars, or spray cans, processed cheese offers twice the sodium of natural cheese. Plus, processed cheese has up to 4 grams of carbohydrate per ounce, with only half the protein of natural cheeses, such as low-fat mozzarella and cheddar (which are virtually carb-free).
Healthy Swap: Love cheese? Don't miss this family-favorite mac and cheese recipe featuring four different types of cheese!
Shortening has been trimmed of much of the trans fat it once had, but partially hydrogenated oil still hides in the ingredient list. That means it has trans fat—just not enough per 1-tablespoon serving to register on the nutrition label. Even small amounts can harm heart health.
Healthy Swap: Find 15 recipe substitutions for diabetes-friendly cooking and baking.
A 1-cup serving of canned ravioli packs 750 milligrams of sodium plus 800 milligrams of potassium from potassium chloride, a type of salt. Potassium is a healthful nutrient, but getting too much from salt substitutes and processed food additives could pose problems for people with kidney disease and those taking certain blood pressure medications.
Healthy Swap: This delicious ravioli recipe comes together with just six easy ingredients.
Rich in sugar and fat, including up to 2 grams of trans fat per serving, this creamy stuff is not even worth keeping on hand for a special occasion. Top treats with a sweet sprinkle of powdered sugar, dark chocolate shavings, or colorful berries instead.
Healthy Swap: Our Orange Cream Cheese Frosting boasts just 3 grams of carb per serving and three ingredients!
Boxed Meal Kits
Even healthy-sounding boxed dishes that instruct you to add chicken or tuna contain a laundry list of questionable ingredients, including small amounts of partially hydrogenated oil, artificial colors and flavors, and a heavy hit of sodium. Boxed meal-helpers could leave you short on fiber and whole grains, too.
Healthy Swap: Need a healthy meal fast? Try these quick and easy Meals in Minutes for breakfast, lunch, and dinner!
Salty Salad Dressings
Want a side of salt with your leafy greens? Salad-dressing makers seem to think so. Sodium per 2-tablespoon serving often hits 300–400 milligrams. Light versions don’t necessarily save on sodium or carbohydrate—just fat and calories. Opt for dressings with fewer than 240 milligrams of sodium per serving.
Healthy Swap: Think healthy dressings have to be bland and boring? Give our Bacon Salad Dressing a try!
Ramen Noodle Soups
These may have been standby meals in college, but it’s time to graduate to healthier options. A half package of these noodles with seasoning top 800 milligrams of sodium. Other not-so-nice ingredients include partially hydrogenated oil, saturated fat, and hard-to-pronounce chemical flavorings and preservatives.
Healthy Swap: Get this yummy Asian Vegetable Lo Mein, which has just 307 mg of sodium per serving.
Large Flour Tortillas
Whether making Mexican dishes or sandwich wraps, skip big, burrito-size flour tortillas. Made with refined white flour, they offer little fiber yet pack 200 calories, more than 30 grams of carbohydrate, and 600 milligrams of sodium apiece. Plus, the tortillas contain artery-hardening vegetable shortening.
Healthy Swap: Find the best tortillas to buy with diabetes!
This refers to calorie-dense foods that entice you, personally, to eat too much or blow your carb budget. Maybe it’s chips, cookies, sugary cereal, or dried fruit. Try getting it out of the house, or at least out of your kitchen.
Healthy Swap: Satisfy your sweet tooth with our Lemon Meringue Sandwich Cookies. You get two cookies for 48 calories and 8 grams of carb!