By Guy Lawrence
Somebody asked me this question the other day: From a dietary perspective, what would be the top five things you try to avoid eating?
Now I do need to elaborate a little. The first question I asked was are we already eliminating the obvious? If one were living like a rock star and fuelling their day with cigarettes and alcohol, this would be an obvious choice of elimination if looking to improve health. So drugs, cigarettes and alcohol are out.
And we are talking about food here… so eating a cardboard box or inedible objects are out too. Although the breakfast cereal packaging could be more nutritious than the contents!
The second question asked was are we talking about improving one’s health? Yes we were.
So after a little thought and without getting microscopic (I feel the number could be more than five), this was my answer.
The top five things I try to avoid each day
Now one thing to consider is this. If I am trying to avoid… say… trans fats, then I will look to avoid all foods containing trans fats. So a snack like potato chips are out as they contain trans fats. Low fat margarine, cookies etc. Make sense?
For me, this makes process of elimination much easier. Do I eat any of the below foods? Yes, but they are few and far between. They are not a staple in my daily diet. I always aim to stick to a minimum 80/20 rule that I talk about in my free eBook here.
As far as I’m concerned, these are hideous and I do my best to avoid them, FULL STOP.
If you truly value your health, I suggest you start to research these yourself and avoid them too.
Don’t confuse these with healthy fats though. I wrote a list of the fats I eat daily here. Sarah Wilson has written a great post on trans fats etc here.
Sugar (fructose in particular)
What can I say, no brainer really. Sugar comes in many forms and from many sources, and understandably this creates a lot of confusion. If you consume sugar in small amounts, especially if you are active, the body will generally cope. The problem with sugar is it’s insidious and is found in almost all foods in commercial supermarkets. Too much of the sweet stuff will definitely take it’s toll on your health as far as I’m concerned!
A great book to read on sugar is Sweet Poison by David Gillespie.
This one slips under the radar a little unless you are gluten intolerant. There is a massive connection to your gut, its immunity and your overall health (I wrote about gut health here). My belief is that gluten wrecks havoc on your digestive track over time if it’s a staple in your daily diet. I feel gut health is very important for overall wellbeing.
And yes, by eliminating gluten you are eliminating most grains (I’ll blog more on this).
Highly processed foods
A bit broad I know, but I felt artificial flavourings, chemicals like the sweetener aspartame, food preservatives with E numbers etc deserved to go under this category. If the ingredients listed on the packet look like something you see in a chemical laboratory, I try to avoid it. Microwave meals, many canned foods, sauce packets, soft drinks etc. Avoiding highly processed foods will eliminate over 90% of the supermarket! Fresh is best… real food. Know your ingredients and cook yourself so you know what you are really eating.
Soy has become a staple for many over recent years, but personally I’m not a fan and it’s made my top 5. Believe it or not, the soybean is inedible for human consumption in its natural state and is highly processed and usually genetically modified. It is also linked to a host of health issues including hormones, gut digestion, infertility and cancer (I wrote a post on soy here).
If you do have soy in your diet, I suggest you do some research into it.
When I listed my top five, I wanted to list the things that I felt were relevant to everyone regardless of what their beliefs are around nutrition. Paleo diet, vegetarian, vegan etc. There are still so many things to cover. Dairy, grains, meat (grass fed/corn fed, processed/packaged), quantities of fruit daily etc. The list goes on!
So how is your health? Do you have any of the above as a staple in your daily diet? Do you agree?
Would love to hear what your top five would be…
On a side note: I truly enjoy writing these posts, hence our frequent blog posts. At the end of the day though, these are just my thoughts and feelings around a topic I’m passionate about. I encourage everyone to do their own research and check out the facts for themselves.
If you did enjoy the post and got something from it or have something to share on the topic, I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below. If you feel others would benefit from this then it would be great if you could share it using one of the icons below (Facebook etc). Cheers, Guy…
Replace processed foods with a 180 superfood smoothie here