If it tastes good then it’s probably bad for you, right? This may seem like a bit of a throw away comment to many of you, but the reality is that it’s not that far from the truth! OK, so I get that ‘taste’ is subjective, some people like nothing more than a good ol’ Brussel sprout and some quinoa, but put a sprout and doughnut in front of someone and ask them to choose and you know what ‘s most likely to happen!
The facts are this, humans are programmed to like the taste of fat, salt and sugar, it’s the way we are made in that salt is integral to almost every bodily function, fat is the densest source of energy at 9kcal per gram (compared to 4kcal for carbs and protein), and sugar is an evolutionary thing that prompts the carb receptors in your mouth to want ripening fruit, a food source that is naturally high in sugar.
So whatever way we look at it, we are somewhat controlled by our bodies natural cravings, and this unfortunate fact can lead us into temptation. If we succumb to the little demons in our brain telling us to binge on fat to top up energy stores for a rainy day, or salt to keep our organs functioning as they should, then we could be in for a rough ride health wise!
HOWEVER, Never say never…
The word ‘never’ is rarely in my nutritional vocabulary for several reasons, I won’t allow clients and customers to say ‘I’ll never lose this weight’ or ‘I never have time to prep food’, and the same holds true for food selection. One of the main problems we have in the nutrition and health sector is extreme ideologies, we think that we have to ‘cut out this’ or ‘cut out that’ in order to succeed at weight loss or muscle building for example, and it doesn’t have to be this way. Sometimes we get better results from not being overly restrictive, an overly restrictive diet is less likely to encourage compliance. This said though, there are some foods that really offer nothing in the way of nutrition, and stand to do more harm than good, these foods (and drinks) are as follows:
My top 5 foods to avoid:
-High sugar soft drinks such as colas and energy drinks are terribly overconsumed
-Each can of cola contains 33g of sugar, this is the same as approx. 10 teaspoons of sugar
-They contain the dreaded High Fructose Corn Syrup, which is a sweetener that is incredibly cheap to source. However, the way it is metabolised in the body increases the risk of metabolic diseases such as diabetes and obesity
Better alternatives include ‘diet soda’ alternatives, but the best alternatives include water and sugar free squash
-Processed meat undergoes several processes before it reaches your plate, this includes smoking, curing, salting and the addition of fat. And then there’s the chemical preservatives (not that it needs them with all the salt in there) which have loosely been linked to some cancers, particularly colon cancer
-Many of these meats are reconstituted and reformed, and often contain leftover parts such as tongue and heart tissue!
-Salami, bologna, hot dogs and pepperoni contain so many unknown elements that you really are best to avoid them
-Processed meats are high in salt, but also have water and juices pumped in to increase the weight…all dark tricks of the trade
If you absolutely must have some processed meat then go for the lean and nutritious options such as lunch meats which are lower in fat. Also consider paying a little bit extra for whole cuts of chicken, turkey and ham, these are lower in fat and salt and still have their nutritional value intact.
-You were waiting for it, weren’t you? Sadly the beloved doughnut DOES NOT love you back, in fact, they go out of their way to ruin you from the inside out.
-These are laden with trans fats, sugar and refined flour (where all of the germ, bran and husk are removed from the wheat etc)
-High trans-fat content has been linked to several cancers, is thought to be responsible for atherosclerosis (artery plaque) and increased risk of heart disease
-Most contain between 10-20g of fat and deliver anywhere around 300-400 calories
If you desperately need a doughnut, then whip into a store and pick up some hot cross buns, these are a low fat, low artificial sugar alternative. If you don’t like the idea of that then by all means have a doughnut…but do just that, don’t have two, three or four, no matter how much you love them!
-Margarine has had its time, it is thought that it was originally made as a cheap alternative to butter during the Franco-Prussian wars in France
-Margarine had all the right intentions in that it aimed to lower total calorie consumption compared to butter, as well as reducing total saturated fat intake, problem is they replaced these ingredients with trans- fats…not what you need!
-Yes it is fortified with some vitamins and minerals, but this is all countered by the trans-fat content
If you need a spread of some sort, then take it from me, stick with a modest serving of butter (all the research behind butter being bad for you was pretty much quashed anyway).
-Full of fat, crisps are the ultimate crave for many people, they are calorie dense, high in salt and even higher in fat, what’s not for your body to like!?
-Avoid them where possible, they offer very little by means of nutritional value, but plenty on the calorie front
Opt for baked crisps, ideally vegetable crisps if possible as these will contain less acrylamide, a substance that is known to increase the risk of cancer. Acrylamide is formed during ultra- high temperature cooking such as when frying, and although baked crisps may still contain less acrylamide, there is still some likely to be kicking around in there.
Consider baking tortillas yourself, these can be sprinkled with paprika (for example) and sliced into triangles.