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If the following foods are on your “to avoid” list, it’s time to take a closer look.

1) Peanut Butter- Yes, peanut butter is high in fat, but the fat is mostly the heart-healthy kind. This doesn’t mean you should put peanut butter on everything, but a tablespoon or two can fit nicely into your day. As an added bonus, it will help keep you satisfied and add a dose of fiber and protein to your day. Look for peanut butter without partially hydrogenated oils (aka trans fat) and spread some on apple slices or a whole grain toaster waffle.

2) Pizza- Not just any pizza though, we’re talking homemade pizza! Pizza can be balanced and nutritious. Think about it…pizza contains grains, dairy, veggies and sometimes, lean protein or fruit. Try making your own pizza at home using a whole wheat shell, tomato sauce, a sprinkle of mozzarella cheese and lots of veggies of your liking. Balance out a slice or two with a tossed green salad. If you must have meat on your pizza, try Canadian bacon, chicken breast or veggie pepperoni.

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3) “High Glycemic” Foods- The glycemic index is a measure of how fast a food raises blood sugar and it has been used as the basis of various weight loss programs. However, there are many factors that play into how fast a food raises your blood sugar, such as how it is cooked and what it’s eaten with. While most “low-glycemic” foods are healthy choices, not all “high glycemic” foods are un-healthy. For example, watermelon and whole wheat bread are considered “high glycemic” and are very healthy foods. The glycemic index is best used as a general tool to guide your food choices and shouldn’t be the deciding factor on whether you eat something or not. Remember, all foods can fit!

4) Pasta Noodles- It’s not so much the noodle as it is the portion! Sure, choosing whole wheat pasta is a good idea, but even plain old pasta noodles are okay! Just balance out those noodles with low-fat sauce such as marinara, lots of veggies and lean protein such as lean ground turkey, fish or grilled chicken. When you add ‘bulk’ to your pasta dish, you can usually get away with ½ cup to 1 cup of cooked noodles and still feel satisfied.

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