The worst foods you can eat.
January 28, 2010 § 8 Comments
At the risk of coming off preachy about what you should and shouldn’t consume, i want to talk about foods that make up a veritable axis of evil in the world of health and nutrition. To me, these are public enemies #1, and if you can cut these out gradually, you’ll be doing your body a HUGE favour.
Let’s start with the one thing that should surely be so easy for people to give up. It is completely devoid of any nutritional value and there are infinite substitutes for this lame excuse for a beverage. I’m talking about Soda’s. Soft drinks. Whatever you want to call them.
An average can of soft drink can have around 13 teaspoons of sugar – this alone is pretty much your daily allowance (that is, if you want to have refined sugar in your diet at all, which i think should be cut out altogether). 13 teaspoons! And that’s mostly high fructose corn syrup that is a prime culprit in interfering with your body’s natural mechanisms to suppress hunger, and can thus cause you to have more and more cravings, and gain weight. Your body is probably so confused that it is recieving a massive hit of, well, nothing. No nutrients, no minerals, just a big feast of sugar that will raise your GI, and leave you feeling like crap.
Worse still, are diet soda’s. Sure, it’s tempting to reach for the Coke Zero when you know it only has 7 calories and enough caffeine to get you through a shift, or a drive or a class, but what these drinks have that is even worse than corn syrup, is artificial sweeteners. Aspartame is the main ingredient here, and what you may not know is that this chemical is a neurotoxin. Aka, deteriorates the neurons in the brain, linked to many forms of disease and cancer…aka, how the hell is it legal to put this in people’s drinks and market it as ‘diet’? Did you know that one component of Aspartame called Methanol is converted into formaldehyde in the body. Yes, Formaldehyde like what they use to embalm and preserve dead bodies. Cool huh?
So instead, try to drink water. Miraculous stuff. Or tea. Or some juice that you’ve made (not the bought stuff, as it can contain just as much sugar as soft drinks). If you are eating the rights foods, getting enough sleep and exercising, you won’t need a massive sugar/caffeine hit to get you through the day, because it is in fact, probably making your tiredness worse in a big vicious, sugary cycle.
The next target is foods containing trans fats. Like for example, fries, cookies, margarines, popcorn, cereals, pre-made cakes… the list goes on.
A healthy diet contains 0 trans fats. The above medium McDonald’s fries contains 5g of the stuff, let alone a large serve that has around 8g. Supposedly they’re introducing a new oil that has no trans fats for their frying, but even so, a product can still contain some amount (under 0.5g) and not have to cite this on the label, because it’s seen as an acceptable daily allowance. In reality, no-one should be consuming any amount of these fats as they are the artery-blockers we all hear about, and raise cholesterol like it’s going out of fashion.
But don’t just limit your awareness to fried foods; many cereals, cookies and crackers contain the fat as well. Ironically, even Special K weight loss bars have some in them, as do the entire range of their ‘healthy living’ bars and snacks. In fact, many Kellogs cereals are offenders in this category. The lesson? Buy foods that are natural. Fresh. Not pre-packaged or pre-prepared. A good rule is anything that comes in plastic or a box should probably not be included in your diet. Sounds extreme, but what i mean is, you want the single food in it’s natural state, and you can do the rest.
Lastly, i want to have a go at Soy, because it seems to be being hailed as the new ‘wonder food’ of the West, that is touted to do many things from reduce your risk of breast cancer, to lower cholesterol.
The argument goes that asians have been using soy for eons and look at them! A slim, gracefully-ageing, long-lived bunch who must be onto something! The truth is, asians actually consume very small portions of soy, and what they do eat tends to be properly fermented soy products like tempeh and miso. They don’t drink large amounts of soy milk, and don’t have soy components in every meal. The trouble with things like soy milk, as i have mentioned earlier, is that they contain phytoestrogens that can mimic oestrogen in the body and mess with your hormones. This is why soy is supposedly good for menopausal women as it has a HRT-like effect and is said to relieve symptoms, but i am skeptical about it’s merits and was shocked to find out that soy beans need to be processed in a certain way so that they are actually fit for consumption – soy milk not falling in this category.
So my own experience aside (where i started using soy everyday on my breakfast and in things like smoothies, and actually gained weight despite increased exercise and a healthy diet) others i know have also found themselves in this predicament. Just a few weeks ago i saw my Mum’s best friend who has always been trim and terrific, who had acquired quite a belly and could not understand why. She was drinking soy everyday. We talked about it, and she decided to cut it out to see the effects, and straight away lost 4 kilos in a couple of weeks. Not to mention a lot of other women i have talked to who have made the connection between weight gain and soy. I’m sure it is also a personal thing, and can be very much informed by thyroid function and perhaps gender, but just think about it if you have added soy to your diet because it is still a very controversial food and should be consumed sparingly.