Every nutritionist has a slightly different philosophy on diet and food—that’s to be expected. However, there are some common foods that I see that continue to be added to the “avoid” list.
The reasons for avoiding these foods are varied, but most have to do with modern farming, packaging, or processing factors, which contaminate food with chemicals and hormones.
There is also an ethical component. Many people feel strongly about eating animal products from stressed, weak, and unhealthy stock, such as modern intensive farming practices.
Also, there has been a shift in our viewpoint on what is “health food.”
More people are turning away from a highly packaged, low-fat diet, and eating more like their grandparents did.
And saying “yes” to full-fat, fresh, and organic. If you stay as close to nature are possible, you cannot go too wrong.
Common foods on nutritionists’ ‘out’ list
Your body does not recognize this as food. These cannot help prevent weight gain in any prominent way. In fact, they can make you “shun healthy, filling, and highly nutritious foods”, as you chose more artificially flavored food options that are less valuable nutritionally.
Try small amounts of stevia, molasses, maple syrup, and maintain regular exercise to keep blood sugar levels balanced.
- Cage eggs
These chickens cannot move or have natural behavior that promotes health, such as dust baths and grooming. This extreme inactivity leads to disability, and being prone to weakness and disease.
Choose free-range or barn laid eggs. Or better yet, look into getting your own layer flock in your backyard, or collectively through a school, or community garden.
- Sugary breakfast cereals
These are usually aimed at children, and are a fuss-free breakfast choice that parents love for convenience. However, they are full of sugar, salt, and colorings.
Opt instead for a bowl of oat porridge topped with yogurt and banana, and drizzled with maple syrup. This is a hearty breakfast that will keep your fire stoked until morning tea, being high is fiber and protein.
- Canned tomatoes
The internal walls of the aluminum tin contain bisphenol-A, a synthetic estrogen that is linked to many health complications, including infertility. BPA also leaches into the can’s contents, due to the acidity of the tomatoes.
Choose tomato passata in a bottle instead, or better still—fresh tomatoes.
- Table salt and salted nuts
Table salt is highly refined salt, primarily sodium chloride, that has had other minerals stripped away. Doctors warn that too much salt can play havoc on your body’s ability to regulate blood pressure. But a little salt is essential.
Opt for natural seasalt or pink Himalayan salt that has not been refined. Try using spices and herbs to flavor foods instead of salt.
- Frozen meals
Prepackaged meals are convenient, and don’t need to be completely dismissed if you have a busy lifestyle. However, know that certain brands contain high fructose corn syrup, salt, and preservatives.
Save your money by cooking larger amounts and freezing them, for those busy nights where cooking is not an option. Soups and stews are perfect for this. Home cooking will always be a healthier option than fast or frozen food.
- Vegetable oil
Once thought of as a healthier option, ultra-processed vegetable oils are high in transfats, which are the most dangerous kind of oil. Transfats increase LDL, the bad cholesterol.
When frying, use saturated fats, such as lard, ghee, or coconut oil—these are safe for the body, and are quickly burned off. On salads, use virgin olive oil—it has an ancient history of medicinal uses that are as relevant now as ever.
Like vegetable oils, margarine does not contain healthy oils, unless it is pure olive oil spread.
Use butter from grass-fed cows, coconut butter, or tahini.
- Unfermented soy products
Traditionally, in Japan and China, soy foods were fermented—for good reason. These included tempeh, natto, and soy sauce. This is because these people knew that certain compounds in soybeans are broken down in the process of fermentation, making it safer for consumption—these are trypsin inhibitors, phytic acid, and giotrogens we know of today.
Substitute soy milk for milk, or another kind of milk substitute. And try tempeh in stead of tofu—it’s good for frying, and has a denser, heartier texture.
Although mouthwatering, processed meats contain high levels of sodium nitrate. In small amounts, this does not pose a treat, but in larger doses may increase the risk of cancer.
Choose higher quality processed meats, like ham, from a good local butcher that do not contain sodium nitrate. These meats will be more expensive, but are preserved in a traditional way—and you can taste the difference!
Having a friendly relationship with your local butcher is a good thing. He or she can tell you about the welfare of the animals, what’s in the meat, and how to prepare it, as well as sharing some tried and true family recipes with you.
It’s true: Unless you are super diligent, you can’t get away from everything on this list—it’s just not realistic. It’s what you do 80 percent of the time that counts—that’s the rule I live by.