"I will eat most things on occasion, but these are truly the foods I won't touch — ever," says Michelle Pfennighaus, nutrition and health coach from FindYourBalanceHealth.com. She shares her top eight no-go foods.
Thirsty? Skip the soda. Pfennighaus considers soda to be a poison, plain and simple and that includes diet soda. "Between the GMO ingredients, chemical sweeteners, caffeine, artificial colors and flavors, it's a total health bomb with zero redeeming value," she explains. "Plus, every time you drink soda, you fail to drink something that will actually hydrate your body." Stick to water with a twist of citrus and leave the sugary stuff behind.
What looks like a healthy alternative to soda at the vending machine or convenience store usually isn't the healthy choice you might think it is. "These 'fruit' juices are made with high fructose corn syrup, artificial flavors and colors," Pfennighaus says. "There's nothing healthy about them at all."
Though they may be a tempting treat, items like jelly beans, candy corn and candy bars should be avoided. "They’re nothing but cheap GMO ingredients, chemical sweeteners, artificial colors and flavors and they don't even taste good after your taste buds have adjusted to a diet of real food," says Pfennighaus. When you’re craving something sweet pick up a piece of fruit (frozen grapes make a fun sweet treat), or mix berries and Greek yogurt, and drizzle with honey.
A busy schedule calls for quick snacks, but if your go-to way to satiate hunger on the go are energy and granola bars, you aren’t getting much (if any) nutrients. "Most packaged bars are so full of processed ingredients and sweeteners, they should be called candy bars," affirms Pfennighaus. "If I want to eat sweets, I'd rather eat an amazing dessert and if I want energy, I'd rather eat a handful of nuts and dried fruit," she says.
Almost every boxed cereal contains a form of sugar or multiple forms so be wary if boxed cereal is your breakfast of choice. "Even without sugar, they're just a box of highly processed carbohydrates," says Pfennighaus. She points that in order to turn wheat into an O shape of a flake, you need processing of some kind. "This is not something you can do in your kitchen. This is a product of the industrial food system."
Saving calories by buying non-fat milk? You’re sacrificing nutrition the process. "Without fat, milk has little to offer," Pfennighaus explains. She says that milk without fat becomes a partial food (i.e. not "whole") and lacks the fat necessary to absorb calcium and vitamins A and D.
Eating a little bit of butter is much better for you than eating margarine. Simply put, Pfennighaus points out that butter replacements are not real food. "These are actually GMO vegetable oils with added colors and flavors," she explains. "Actual butter from healthy, pastured cows is a much healthier, vitamin-rich option."
Choose your oils wisely and avoid the ones that offer nothing in terms of nutrition or taste. Oils from soy, corn etc. are highly processed and are what Pfennighaus refers to as products of the industrial revolution. "That means they didn't exist before industrial machinery and chemical processes were available for food production," she explains. Typically tasteless, these oils are genetically modified and full of the type of fats that harden cell walls in our bodies — no thanks. "I much prefer naturally occurring fats like butter, coconut oil and pure olive oil."
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