Have you seen that ad going around? It has a half rotten banana and says “5 foods to never eat if you don’t want to be fat.” That’s one of those ads that make my skin itch because the focus is wrong. So I decided to counter that ad with a post about 5 ingredients to never eat if you don’t want to die young and in pain. These 5 ingredients are terrifyingly common in our diet today. But with a little diligence, you can avoid them. And by the way, I personally like bananas and don’t plan to stop eating them.
Sugar – In the 60’s and 70’s, we replaced all the fat in foods with sugar in a misguided attempt to bring an end to obesity. The results were not positive. While we always thought fat was the problem, we’re realizing sugar is actually the bad guy here. According to Authority Nutrition, sugar is the leading cause of obesity in the United States, which can lead to dangerous things like diabetes. This is crazy as we started consuming it in obscene amounts when we removed fat from our diets to stop obesity. Talk about a bad idea. Not only does sugar cause obesity but it’s also bad for your teeth and liver. The big problem, sugar is extremely addictive. It really is a drug. When you give up sugar, your body goes through withdrawals and you feel like crap. Anything that does that to your body can’t be good for you.
- Tip: Try to limit sugars and use natural sugars like honey and fruit. When looking at packaging, try to keep it to around 5 grams of sugar per serving.
Hydrogenated fat/Trans fat – Hydrogenated oil means hydrogen has been added to the oil to make it last longer. This is bad because it is just another name for “trans-fat” Several years ago, scientists realized trans-fats were really bad for you. Trans fats increase bad cholesterol which is horrible for your heart. Hydrogenated oils are generally used in frying food and margarine is the best example of a hydrogenated oil.
- Tip: If you’re going to eat fried food, make your own fried in coconut oil. Stick with butter over margarine.
Artificial Sweetener – Really, we should just stay away from any ingredient that begins with the word “artificial” but you should know why. Nothing good comes from artificial sweetener. It was originally produced as a way to make food sweet without the sugar that can lead to weight gain. This makes me furious as it once again takes the focus away from health and turns it to the number on the scale. Not only will artificial sweetener not help you lose weight but it wreaks havoc on several body systems. First off, artificial sweeteners are genetically modified which we’ll discuss below, but they also disrupt hormones, cause you to overeat and make your gut do rather unpleasant things. Trust me, nothing else on earth can cause that kind of churning and cramping.
- Tip: Artificial sweeteners go by the names of saccharin, neotame, acesulfame potassium, aspartame, and sucralose. Read your labels and avoid these chemicals. Again, stick to natural sweeteners like honey and fruit.
Artificial Coloring – This is a sore spot for me. I can’t see why we would put such harmful chemicals in food just to change the color. The taste is the same regardless of color, but we add this poison to our food to make it look prettier. Artificial coloring has been linked to cancer, thyroid issues and behavioral issues (like ADD in children).
- Tip: Artificial coloring is easy to identify. Read the ingredients on a package. If you see a color followed by a number, that’s artificial coloring (Ex: Red 40, Yellow 5, etc). Natural coloring often comes from things like turmeric and paprika. These don’t add flavor to the foods but give color in a natural away. The bottom line; read those labels.
GMO – GMO stands for Genetically Modified Organism. To give a very basic summary, GMO’s are living food (pant, animal) that are artificially altered by something in a laboratory. This can be done in an effort to make foods larger, to make them grow more quickly or to make foods more tolerant to natural conditions. Sounds like a great idea, right? WRONG! Many countries restrict or outright ban the use of GMO’s, but in the United States, we have no restrictions. The effects of GMOs are still a bit unknown but putting something that foreign into our bodies increases toxins, weakens our immune systems and affects our digestion which causes problems throughout our entire body. According to the Non GMO Project, 80% of packaged foods are produced using GMO’s. That’s insane! Common culprits are corn, soy and cottonseed. Sadly, these things are everywhere. Anything that uses corn starch, corn syrup (which you should avoid regardless), corn meal, canola oil, or vegetable oil likely are made using GMO’s. Also, soy is EVERYWHERE!
- Tip: Look for the “Non-GMO Verified” label on foods. (Not all non-GMO foods carry this exact label, but tey will say non-GMO or GMO free in some form). Stay away from conventional cooking oils and stick with coconut oil for baking and Avocado oil for cooking. Also, buy organic. It’s crappy the U.S. allows GMOs in our food, but they do not allow food to carry the label “organic” if it contains GMOs.