So you’re looking for an easy way to shed those extra pounds. Unfortunately, there’s no shortcut to transform from a solid five out of ten (hi) into an Instagram model overnight. On the bright side, there are certain things you can do and small ways to change your diet to de-bloat, drop some pounds, and improve your health at the same time. Here are five little (BIG) things to cut out of your diet if you’re looking to feel better and maybe lose a few pounds.
Dairy is inflammatory. Like, it’s literally cow breast milk that’s meant to bulk up baby calves. Yes, cheese is f*cking delicious and so is a gigantic ice cream sundae with whipped cream and a cherry on top, but that disgusting, heavy feeling you get after eating a quesadilla or pint of Ben & Jerry’s is real. Cut out any milk-based products in exchange for dairy-free options like almond, coconut, cashew, or oat milk instead.
2. Artificial Sugars & Sweeteners
Natural sugars, like those found in fruit, are okay because they’re natural (duh). Artificial sugar, on the other hand, is basically the devil. Sugar alternatives like stevia are hyped up to be low-calorie and “better” for you, but that’s not exactly the case. Consuming artificial sugars can actually make you crave more sweet foods, a fact I’m sure you already know but bears repeating. Avoid eating candy and snacks with fake sugars, sweeteners, aspartame, and high-fructose corn syrups whenever possible.
3. Carbonated Drinks
Sure, carbonated drinks like soda, seltzer, and beer taste great. However, those sweet, sweet bubbles aren’t worth the calories, sugars, indigestion, bloating, or burps. Substitute all of these drinks for water or tea and watch the pounds melt off (if you don’t believe me, my ex-boyfriend lost 15 pounds after he quit drinking soda).
Allow me to elaborate. White foods are bleached and are not good for you. Swap out all white ingredients in your diet and replace them with brown ones, including bread, rice, flour, sugar, and pasta. These complex carbs are way more natural, easier to digest, and kinder to your stomach.
5. Processed Foods
Frozen meals are quick and easy to make—there’s no argument there. What I will argue, though, is that processed foods aren’t worth the convenience. Pre-packaged bags of produce are one thing, but microwavable rice side dishes, dumplings, and canned soups are trash. Quit being lazy, stop eating sh*tty TV dinners, and start cooking meals at home with fresh ingredients. There are more fresh food delivery/meal prep services than I could even name off the top of my head, there’s literally no excuse anymore.
Be an adult. You love ramen noodles and Taco Bell cheesy gordita crunches because they’re cheap and delicious… I get it. All of the things on this list taste pretty good, but they’re also super unhealthy and easily replaceable. Just by following these simple rules and removing some toxic foods from your diet, you’ll be on your way to better health, a smaller waistline, and maybe even a couple more Instagram followers too.
No matter how un-basic you swear you are, odds are you have a sweet spot for that moment PSLs get added back to the Starbucks menu. And while the nutmeg- and cinnamon-infused drinks are obviously one of the major highlights of the season, a grande pumpkin spice latte with whole milk and whipped cream from Starbucks tacks on around 420 calories to your day. So if you want to fit into your skimpy Halloween costume, or you’re simply conscious of your daily calorie intake/want to keep your blood sugar at a normal level, then you probably shouldn’t replace your daily coffee with the seasonal latte. Sorry.
But if you can’t help but give in to your obsession with all things pumpkin-flavored, I’ve rounded up a list of pumpkin spice food and drinks that are way fewer calories than pumpkin spice lattes.
1. Bulletproof Pumpkin Spice Collagen Protein Bar
If you’re looking for a protein bar that fills you up while also incorporating the benefits of collagen, then Bulletproof’s Pumpkin Spice Collagen Protein Bar should be your new go-to. The bar has a similar texture to that of a cookie versus the sticky, hard textures of other protein bars, so you can trick yourself into thinking you’re actually having a pumpkin cookie but for fewer calories, as the bar is only 220 calories. With 12 grams of protein, it’ll keep you fuller longer than a cookie would, so it’s a win-win.
2. Simply Balanced Pumpkin Pie Low-Fat Greek Yogurt
Simply Balanced’s Pumpkin Pie Greek Yogurt is not only low-fat, but it also tastes like actual pumpkin pie which takes the intense bitterness away from the greek yogurt. At 130 calories, it’s about one-third of the number of calories in a PSL. And you can totally have this at 9am without being judged.
3. Archer Farms Pumpkin Spice Pretzels
If you need a crunchy snack but are craving a pumpkin spice flavor, Archer Farms’ pretzels are the perfect combo of salty and spiced. Lightly coated in a pumpkin spice, this treat will only add 200 calories (per serving) to your day.
4. Quest Bar Pumpkin Pie Bars
If you want to satisfy your PSL cravings but are also in need of a high-protein snack, then Quest Bar’s Pumpkin Pie bar is the way to go. It tastes like legit pumpkin pie, has chunks of pie crust, and fills you up with 12 grams of protein.
5. RXBAR Pumpkin Spice Bars
RXBARs bring you all of the protein without any of the artificial ingredients other protein bars have. The pumpkin spice bar combines egg whites, dates, almonds, cashews, cinnamon, cloves, and pumpkin all blended together to remind you of Thanksgiving night—minus your drunk uncle and overdosing on mashed potatoes.
6. Pumpkin Spice Cheerios
If you can’t start your crisp fall day without the taste of pumpkin spice, you can pour yourself a bowl of whole grain pumpkin spice Cheerios. Let your first meal of the day be free of gluten and the PSL sugar coma.
7. Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Flavored Ground Coffee
Just because you shouldn’t have a PSL every day doesn’t mean you can’t have a pumpkin spice coffee every day. Starbucks’ pumpkin spice flavored ground coffee can easily replace the PSL. Bring the flavor home with you for only around five calories per a cup of black pumpkin spice coffee.
8. Coffee-Mate Sugar Free Pumpkin Spice
If you need creamer in your coffee (and life), Coffee-Mate’s Sugar-Free Pumpkin Spice Creamer adds the cinnamon-nutmeg flavor to your morning coffee for only 15 calories and zero grams of sugar.
9. Halo Top Pumpkin Pie Ice Cream
Unless you live under a rock, you’ve probably heard about the phenomenon that is Halo Top ice cream. And just when you thought the low-calorie ice cream couldn’t get any better (or more basic), they dropped a pumpkin pie flavor. At 360 calories per pint, you can eat the whole thing while you’re binge-watching Netflix Halloween specials without feeling guilty.
10. Organic Protein Plant Based Protein Powder Pumpkin Spice, $19.99
We couldn’t have a list of healthy, low-calorie alternatives to the PSL without including a pumpkin spice protein powder. The perfect post-gym snack to make up for your lack of PSL, Orgain’s pumpkin spice powder has 21 grams of protein per serving. So you’ll stay full and won’t feel compelled to grab a pumpkin-flavored donut later in the day.
Images: Giphy (1); Bulletproof; Simply Balanced/Target; Archer Farms/Target; Quest Bar/The Vitamine Shoppe; RXBAR; Cheerios; Starbucks/Target; Coffee-Mate/Amazon; Halo Top/Target; Orgain/Lucky Vitamin
Like any betch, I’m constantly complaining, and usually, it’s about my stomach. It feels like I’m forever stuck in a cycle of either sh*tting to the death or being constipated for a year. Yeah, it’s TMI, but I can’t be the only one suffering—and I’m not. A lot of these struggles can come down to one thing: fiber. Nutritionist and dietitian Tracy Lockwood Beckerman gave us all the info on how to properly incorporate fiber in your diet on our Diet Starts Tomorrow podcast.
WTF Is Fiber?
Fiber is a plant-based nutrient that aids your digestion. It can be found in vegetables, fruits, grains and legumes (so like, none of the fun foods). Your body doesn’t store fiber, so it wants to get rid of it ASAP. Fiber also clings to cholesterol, so that’s going to come out of you too, which is like, a good thing.
Why Is It Good?
Tracy believes that all diets should have fiber in it. Other than helping you poop (sry), fiber also keeps you full. Foods with more fiber have the ability to stave off hunger for longer. For example, oats have bran, so they stay in your stomach longer and make you feel less empty *emotionally eats oatmeal*. And, no matter the amount of fiber you eat, Tracy says, “It doesn’t contribute to any weight gain.” So it’s basically magic. Another bonus: eating lots of fiber (and consequently, getting rid of said fiber via your digestive system) can prevent colorectal diseases and intestinal diseases in the future.
Don’t Abuse Fiber
Like all good things, it’s important to not OD on fiber. If you start eating too much fiber all at once, you can deplete your body of other nutrients it needs. “The body is not used to taking in as much roughage and grains that we should be.” Tracy explains, “by increasing the fiber you have to do it in a little bit more mindful and incremental way.”
When you’re eating more fiber, you also need to drink a ton of water. This keeps you from getting dehydrated and helps you push all that crap you ate through your system. Without enough water, the fiber can get stuck and cause a lot of bloating and pain (aka my normal state of being). So yeah, I should probably listen to my mom when she says water fixes everything, but don’t tell her I said she’s right.
How Much Fiber Should You Get?
Women should be getting 30-35 grams per day. Tracy says most Americans are only getting between 16-18 grams of fiber and apparently that’s really bad. Some examples of fibrous foods from Tracy are beans, apples, kale (obviously), berries, broccoli, whole grain bread/ pasta, etc. So you have some options in ways to get your fiber in—figure it out, betch.
Are Fiber Supplements Worth It?
Like, no. “It’s not worth it,” Tracy says. She explains, “We’re spending a lot of money on these supplements and sometimes we’re seeing benefits, sometimes we’re not, but you can get this all through food.” Basically, you’re blowing your money on tiny pills when you could just eat better. Supplements seem like a lazy move, which sounds fun until you’re broke. Haha.
Clearly, fiber is important. But there is more to learn about it and being like, a fully well rounded healthy human. I’m not a f*cking scientist so don’t @ me. Instead, check out Tracy’s Instagram and listen to our Diet Starts Tomorrow episode below.
Images: Giphy (2); Trang Doan/Pexels