Foods to Limit or Avoid Altogether – Part II

[typography font=”Myriad Pro” size=”24″ size_format=”px” color=”#d10707″]Foods to Limit or Avoid Altogether[/typography]

The last post covered the biggest food culprits that harm your health, and yet are eaten in great quantities in most Westernized countries.  Part II covers other foods that are not always bad for you, but may not be good choices for you depending on your health, physical condition, and the quantities in which you choose to eat them. 

Nuts

This is one of my favorite foods, which is a very good thing because they are filled with nutrients. However, you must consider your current state of health in making wise choices regarding the quantity of nuts you should eat.

Your weight is one consideration.

  • Underweight – Raw or roasted unsalted nuts and seeds are a good choice.
  • Overweight – Because of the high caloric count and fat content, it would be wise to avoid them completely. I would say to eat them in small quantities, but it is far too easy to eat too many once you get started.
  • Normal weight – There are no particular limitations unless you have heart-related health problems. In that case, avoid them – primarily because of the fat content and also many nuts are salted.

Alternatives: As a general rule seeds have a lower fat content than nuts, so if you like the crunch, but should eliminate nuts from your diet, try seeds instead. Frozen grapes are another tasty crunchy treat, as well as sliced apples, carrots, and celery strips served with hummus.

Nutrition Tips: Raw nuts are by far the best choice. Buy them in the shell. When you have to crack and pick the meat out of the shells, you are forced to work at getting to the edible part of the nuts, which slows you down and limits the quantity you will eat.

When I was a growing up, you could only buy nuts in the shell. My mom always kept a bowl of whole nuts (and a nutcracker) on the table. It was one of my favorite snacks – try it with your family.

Fruits

Some fruits are definitely higher in sugar than others and as a result there have been recent warnings about the high-sugar content of fruits – even warnings to avoid eating them altogether because of that. The reality is that fruits are full of nutrients and are good for you. In fact, unless you are diabetic or trying to lose weight, the natural sugar found in whole ripe fruit should not be a problem

There are a few high-fat fruits that should be eaten in small quantities if you are trying to lose weight – or have other health concerns connected with high-fat intake. The most common ones to watch are: avocadoes, bananas, plantains, olives, coconut, and durian.

Alternatives: This is pretty simple. Because of the wide variety of fruits available year round – for alternatives, all you have to do is pick a different fruit that is not high-fat and enjoy.

Nutrition Tips:  As noted above, both bananas and avocados are high in fat, but they are also loaded with nutrients. From a nutritional standpoint, you may want to consider using banana as a replacement for other forms of fat in your baked goods. When you make that wonderful dish, guacamole, use one avocado and an equal amount of pureed organic canned peas (be sure to drain them first). By using this inventive mix, you will be sustaining the nutrient level and lowering the fat content – and the taste will not change very much.

Our society seems to love food fads. A new one appears at least every year or so and usually someone tries to take it to the extreme and convince you that you should eat whatever it is in large quantities. You probably remember that very thing happening when soy first became popular, and more recently, I am sure you have read all the hype about coconut oil. Personally, I have found that coconut oil works very well in cookies and other baked goods, but using it in my coffee?  No, thank you!

Banana diets currently seem to be the “in” thing. Yes, they are nutritious and provide a good daily dose of potassium, which we all need, but one or two bananas a day is adequate – and remember, they are high in fat.

The bottom line is that most people at normal weight should eat fruits in their natural state and in reasonable amounts.

Meat

When cultures were more clearly defined and not Americanized as many are today, there were long-term studies done in cultures that limited their red meat consumption. The results showed that they were generally healthier because of their diet.

Sliced Red Meat
Image by The Busy Brain

Heavy consumption of red meat is absolutely unnecessary and basically not good for you. The only nutrients in red meat are protein and small amounts of B12. In addition to that, most red meats are so heavily processed today that they are even unhealthier than before and should be eliminated or eaten very rarely.

You can get most of your protein through plant-based sources, but you do not have to become vegan or a vegetarian. There other healthy sources of protein.  In the June issue of the Harvard Men’s Health Watch they named six good alternatives:

  • Fish
  • Poultry
  • Nuts
  • Beans
  • Low-fat dairy products
  • Whole grains

Replacing one serving a day of red meat with one of these options reduced mortality in a recent study by 7% to 19%.

I know that this posting has suggested eliminating or limiting some of those six foods depending on your weight and health conditions, so you must consider the needs of your own body and make wise decisions regarding your diet.

Alternatives: Many Americans love their red meat and are very attached to the flavors associated with meat. Keep in mind that many of the flavors that are connected with meat come from seasonings. Try using some of the same seasonings on beans, legumes and eggplant, which are excellent substitutions for meat when making casseroles. Another healthy protein alternative is organic non-GMO tofu; it captures the meat seasoning flavors very well.

Nutrition Tips: Rather than using meat as the main course, change your mind set and serve it as a condiment for salads, roasted vegetables, or stir-fry. To give casseroles a meatier, heartier texture, add shredded vegetables, spaghetti, beans, and lots of mushrooms.

If you cannot bear the thought of eliminating red meat from your diet, the healthiest choice to buy is lean, organic, grass-fed meat. According to Harvard Medical School, the absolute maximum amount of red meat you should have is four ounces of red meat twice a week.

It would be wise to educate yourself on the consequences of meat in the diet and its impact on your body, nutrition and the environment.  A good one to start with is a book by T. Colin Campbell, The China Study.

Fish

I am sorry that I must recommend limiting fish in your diet because I love fish. In addition to being a source of Omega 3 and protein, it also provides B12 and other nutrients.

The biggest challenge is to balance the importance of your heart health (for which Omega 3 is important) and the mercury levels and pollutants in the oceans; plus the issues with bad practices found in the farmed fish industry. As a result of those problems, during pregnancy it should be avoided completely and everyone should limit fish consumption to once or twice a week.

Alternatives: The alternatives for fish are the same as for meat. For tuna sandwich lovers (I am included in that number), try replacing tuna with canned chickpeas (chopped finely or mashed), it is surprisingly good.

Nutrition Tips: Pay attention to your food sources. Buy fish from reputable businesses that ensure that the fish they are selling are caught or come from farms that are committed to sustainable practices. You may want to take a few minutes and learn more about unsustainable fishing.

Dairy

In spite of what the commercial milk industry tells you, milk DOES NOT necessarily “do the body good.” Yes, it tastes great, especially with cookies or chocolate cake and is a source of calcium; but, it also causes problems – especially for adults – such as acne, phlegm, mucus, and heart burn. In addition to those problems, because of the acidity in milk, it is difficult for your body to absorb the calcium. No other animal drinks milk after infancy, and neither should we. It may be causing more problems than you think. As a beverage it should be limited or avoided.

Alternatives: Lucky for us, today there are many choices for milk alternatives (not so much in the past). For example: you can buy almond, rice, coconut, and soy milks. The first two are tasty, healthy alternatives.  Some people have allergies to soy, so pay attention to how your body reacts to soy milk – and personally, I don’t like the taste.

If you are really into healthy eating, learn to juice and include at least three ounces of kale daily for calcium. You will be getting more calcium than you would by drinking a full glass of milk with no adverse effects.

Another thing you should try is making your own rice milk – it is more nutritious and has a better flavor than the packaged grocery store rice milk. (I learned this secret when my son was a baby and did not tolerate milk-based formula.)

Nutrition Tips: Kale is only one plant source of calcium. All leafy green vegetables, oatmeal, oranges and sesame seeds are also good choices. (1 ounce sesame seeds = 280 mg of calcium.)

Most adults need 1000 mg of calcium each day; but, pregnant women, adolescents, and the elderly should have 1500 mg. If you eat a well-balanced diet that includes calcium-rich plant foods, you should be able to get the calcium you need with no problem.

According to Save Our Bones, “Many scientific studies have shown an assortment of detrimental health effects directly linked to milk consumption. And the most surprising link is that not only do we barely absorb the calcium in cow’s milk (especially if pasteurized), but to make matters worse, it actually increases calcium loss from the bones.”

A 12-year-long Harvard Nurses’ Health Study found that those who consumed the most calcium from dairy foods broke more bones than those who rarely drank milk. This is a broad study based on 77,761 women aged 34 through 59 years of age.

Final Note

Cravings for high calorie foods may indicate that you are not getting enough nutrients. Our bodies are truly miraculous. When we do not feed them properly, they let us know. The problem is that we have deadened that sensory perception by overeating and filling our bodies with unhealthy foods that have messed up the natural hunger process.

Check online to find out exactly how many calories you should consume each day to maintain a normal, healthy weight for your height and gender. Remember you should be eating foods that have high nutritional value as well as the necessary calories.

When trying to change your eating habits and sustain a healthy diet, you should avoid restaurants for the most part. Going out for dinner once in a while is fine, but STOP eating at fast food restaurants! Restaurants in general are the worst when it comes to healthy foods. One of the main reasons the food tastes so good and is so bad for you at the same time is they capitalize on the “Holy Trinity of Food” – Sugar, Salt, and Fat.

If you must eat out, stay as close to nature as possible when you order – choose salads without the fatty dressing – use vinegars, a little olive oil, onions, and peppers for seasonings. If you must order an entrée, either share with someone or eat only a portion and take the remainder in a doggy bag. It will make a great lunch for the next two days. Except in very high-end restaurants, most entrées are large enough to feed three people.

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