The main reason that we and our families may feel unwell and sluggish can be due to the unhealthy foods we consume every day.
And, unfortunately, some so called “health foods” that we believe to be nutritious can actually be unhealthy junk foods in disguise.
So here is Part One of a list of foods that you might want to avoid:
1. Processed Fat-Free and Low-Fat Foods
We require a regular intake of good quality fats in our diet for our bodies to function at their optimum capacity and for us to look and feel our best.
But manufacturers of processed foods decided to declare war on fat and created a whole new generation of so called healthy “fat-free” and “low-fat” foods. You have seen them in the stores: milk, cheese, yoghurt, salad dressing, snacks, etc.
But a problem occurred when they were developing these new so called healthy products. Food with fat removed does not taste very good – so to make it more palatable they decided to add lots of sugar and artificial chemicals to make up for the lack of taste.
Unfortunately, excessive sugar consumption can be incredibly harmful to our bodies and these unhealthy foods can cause weight gain, and increase cravings and leave you hungry and unsatisfied - so you just eat more which kind of defeats the purpose!
So check the packaging labels and beware of “fat-free and “low-fat” foods and over processed, chemical-loaded and sugar-laden products. And remember “fat-free” and “low-fat” foods are NOT ALWAYS HEATHLY!! You be the judge!
2. Most Salad Dressings
We know we have to eat our salads and vegetables as they are so good for us - but sometimes they can be bland and boring so we just pour on the commercial supermarket salad dressings to make them tastier. But some of the ingredients in these dressing are not very healthy at all: sugar, unhealthy vegetable oils, trans-fats and artificial flavours and chemicals for a start.
So check the labels and educate yourself. Buy dressings from your local health food stores or even better – make your own. There are lots of healthy dressing recipes available online and you can probably whip them up fresh with ingredients you already have in your kitchen.
3. Fruit Juices
Most of us mistakenly believe that juice made from fruit must be healthy. Unfortunately, the majority of fruit juices found in supermarkets do not contain any fruit at all and are just water, liquid sugars (such as high-fructose corn syrup), and hard to pronounce chemicals and flavourings that supposedly taste like fruit juice!
So if you are going to drink juice each day – make sure it is a good one. Visit your local health food stores – they tend to carry the healthier natural juices. Read your labels and determine which is the least processed, has little or no added sugar and has the biggest nutritional pay off per glass.
Natural Pomegranate juice is one of the best. It contains lots of wonderful antioxidants and is even healthier that red wine or green tea. Unsweetened natural cranberry juice is delicious and is loaded with vitamin C, and acai juice is also loaded with healthy antioxidants and nutrients.
You can also invest in a juicer and make your own. Or you can just eat the whole fruit and get all the natural vitamins and nutrients and fiber.
4. Vegetable Oils
Try to avoid any refined vegetable oils as they are cheap, chemically-processed and downright dangerous to your health. These seed and vegetable oils include: canola oil, sunflower oil, safflower oil, grapeseed and soybean oils. Also stay away from using hydrogenated oils found in margarine and Crisco. All these oils can smoke and turn to trans-fats when heated in the cooking process. Trans-fats can increase your risk of heart disease. They increase your “bad” cholesterol (LDL) and decrease your “good” cholesterol (HDL) fostering the buildup of fatty deposits that can clog your blood vessels and lead to a heart attack.
So make the choice to use healthy and natural fats like extra-virgin olive oil, coconut oil, avocado oil and butter and buy organic if you can.
5. Most Breakfast Cereals
North Americans consume huge amounts of GMO-laden, chemically-processed, flaked, puffed, refined grain, and over-sugared cereals every day. And the way these nutrition-less cereals are marketed to children with their kid-friendly happy singing cartoon characters in TV ads - to the attention-grabbing bright and colourful packaging is a national disgrace. You know the ones we are talking about. Just pick up a box and read the ingredients and check the RDA statistics and you will understand how unhealthy these cereals really are.
And, just to confuse you even more, many of the cold breakfast cereals state they are fortified with vitamins and minerals to get you going in the morning. But sometimes these are synthetic man-made vitamins and minerals and they are not easily absorbed by the body.
So skip the bad stuff and just eat some real food for breakfast – there is no substitute for nature. Try steel cut oats with dried fruit, Greek yoghurt with sugar-free granola and fresh fruit, avocado or nut butter on whole grain toast, scrambled eggs, whole-grain waffles and pancakes, fruit smoothies. Granted you don't have any allergies to these foods or your on a special diet, go for the good stuff and enjoy the energy that comes with eating clean.