There are so many food options today, it's hard to get it right at every meal. Though we can certainly try! Some foods have a reputation for being healthy, when they're actually not. While other foods have been demonized for a reason — yet people still continue to eat them every day. Here are a few foods that as a health coach and raw food chef, I'd recommend you avoid for the long term:
1. Processed, refined white flour
You can easily find this in the form of bagels, muffins, white bread, english muffins and more. White flour has been stripped from its’ natural state, the fiber and nutrients removed. It is then bleached, processed and synthetic nutrients are added back in. Refined carbohydrates have become a significant part of the American diet and have been linked to obesity and related diseases.
Solution: This is an easy swap: Opt for organic, whole-wheat flour. Studies have found that eating whole grains can lead to a trimmer waistline.
2. Low-fat products
In the 1980s, we went through a “low-fat craze," where everyone bought into the myth that low-fat foods were better for you and helped you lose weight. In hindsight, research has shown that obesity and diabetes has more than doubled. What people don't realize is that in order to make a food taste good, while still taking out the fat, food manufacturers need to add in extra ingredients to compensate for better flavor. These additives are high in sugar, highly processed and will create a spike in blood sugar and can certainly lead to weight gain.
Solution: Always go for the real deal, the full fat is OK. Fewer ingredients are always best.
3. Highly-processed cereal
Sweetened cereals that are heavily processed with added sweeteners and low-fiber content are not the best way to start your day. Review the ingredients and try to find a cereal that has A) only ingredients you are familiar with B) fewer ingredients are better C) no high fructose corn syrup D) your cereal should NEVER contain BHT (butylated hydroxytoluene) which has been linked to cancer and is also an endocrine disrupter, which will affect your hormones and make it impossible to lose weight.
Solution: I recommend Q'ia cereal or Nature's Path Smart Bran for those that can eat gluten. You can also use quinoa to create a healthy breakfast cereal.
4. Non-organic dairy, meat and eggs
Meats and dairy from animals from Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFO) are one of our worst offenders. Aside from the fact that these animals are treated inhumanely and forced to sleep and eat squeezed into tight quarters in a sea of feces, they are pumped with chemicals and antibiotics and fed sub-par feed that is genetically modified. In order to keep up with the demand to grow them faster and fatter, they are injected with hormones, which is a huge cancer risk and also disrupts our own endocrine system making us gain weight and creating real problems with our metabolism. Many studies have shown the side effects of these EDC (endocrine disruptor chemicals).
Solution: You can ignore labels like "free range," "free-roaming," "cage-free," or "natural." These are just marketing terms and are not regulated. When buying eggs, I look out for key words like pasture-raised and certified organic. For dairy, I recommend trying non-dairy alternatives like almond or coconut milk. When shopping for meat, also look out for certified organic and try to choose the leaner cuts.
5. Frozen yogurt
I know it seems like a better choice than ice cream and while it might have less calories, it is still not a health food. Frozen yogurt is a highly processed mix that comes in a large carton and is dumped into machines that freeze it and then dispense it. Many of them contain nasty ingredients like soybean oil and palm oil along with carrageenan, a seaweed that has been linked to stomach cancer. Again, if the milk for these yogurts is not organic you will be plagued with absorbing bovine growth hormones that can really wreck havoc on your health and your ability to lose weight.
Solution: Here is my favorite frozen yogurt alternative: I freeze peeled bananas and add them to a high-speed blender with a few tablespoons of dairy-free milk, vanilla bean and sea salt. Initially, it will be a soft-serve consistency, but if you freeze it for a few hours, it will taste more like ice cream.