We all strive to be healthy, but sometimes, keeping up with the latest diet trends can be as exhausting as keeping up with the Kardashians. Enter The Naughty Diet ($15; amazon.com), an easy-to-follow guide to healthy eating created by nutritionist Melissa Milne, the brainchild behind the cult-favorite blog Eat This!. In the 288-page tome, Milne reveals that her savvy approach starts with the pantry—opting for nutrient-dense foods and banning artificial ingredients. Read on to see the five items that may very well be sabotaging your diet, and what to swap 'em with. You're welcome.
1. FAUX-WHEAT BREAD
There are many benefits to eating whole wheat, like reducing your risk of heart disease and diabetes, but those pros do not apply to faux wheat. A quick scan of the ingredients list on the back of your grain of choice will confirm whether you're getting the real deal. If you're craving carbs (who isn't?), consider grabbing a fresh baguette, which is made with four pure ingredients.
2. Artificial sweeteners
Pro tip: "sugar-free" does not mean "go crazy." Whether it comes in pink, blue, or yellow packages, synthetic sugar substitutes will still spike your blood sugar and can even increase your appetite. Instead, help yourself to natural sweeteners like brown sugar, molasses, maple syrup, agave nectar, or stevia.
3. Calorie-free salad dressing
"Calorie-free" is basically code for "loaded with chemical compounds and artificial sweeteners." Next time you're whipping up a salad, try making your own balsamic vinaigrette dressing using a 3 to 1 ratio of olive oil to balsamic vinegar, and season it with minced garlic, lemon juice, sea salt, black-pepper, and oregano.
4. Vegetable oil
Don't let the name deceive you: vegetable oil is chock full of trans fats that can be harmful to your body. Stick with heart-smart options, like oils of the olive, coconut, sesame, or peanut variety.
5. CEREALS WITH CLUSTERS OR CHOCOLATE
Cereal of this kind is often loaded with sugar and artificial ingredients. Start your morning right by sticking with boxes that contain four or fewer ingredients, or try alternatives like muesli with no added sugar.