Tag Archives: Foods to Limit

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.

[typography font=”Cantarell” size=”12″ size_format=”px”]Copyright © 2014 Blurtigo Holdings, LLC All Rights Reserved.[/typography]

Foods to Limit or Avoid – Part I

 [typography font=”Myriad Pro” size=”24″ size_format=”px” color=”#c7022a”]Foods to Limit or Avoid Altogether – Part I[/typography]

The last post discussed foods you should be eating in order to stay as healthy as possible. In this post, we will discuss just the opposite – foods you should eat in limited amounts or avoid altogether. We will name the foods to limit or avoid, give you the reason for such action, and suggest alternatives.

The primary purpose of this series of articles was to inform, encourage, and help you eat more nutritious foods. A companion strategy is to eat limited amounts of foods that do not offer a variety of nutritional components and eliminate completely foods that contain zero nutrients. The ultimate goal is to always eat foods that are filled with nutrients and reap the rewards from doing so. The more nutrients you get, the better you will feel.

[typography font=”Myriad Pro” size=”18″ size_format=”px” color=”#c7022a”]Processed Foods of All Kinds[/typography]

Frozen Food Label
Image by Rusty Gillespie

Our society is filled with busy people who are continuously searching for easier, faster, and more convenient ways of doing things – including convenience foods. As a result, processed, packaged foods have become the heart of the standard diet. In fact, it is so much the norm that people no longer think about the nutritional value of the food they eat, or consider if what they are eating is good for them, or not.

If you were to take the time to read the labels on frozen dinners and pre-packaged dishes, you would quickly recognize that the food value is minimal. They are made up of overly processed foods and filled with additives. Breakfast cereals and crackers (two foods that are regularly fed to growing children), plus white flour, white rice, chips and cookies all contain processed foods that are treated to make you crave fat, sugar, and salt.

You may be thinking – WOW! You just listed some of my favorite foods. How can I possibly give them up?  Don’t panic, there are choices that can fill in the gaps – healthy foods that you will also enjoy.

Alternatives: All tasty treats do not have to be unhealthy, but you will have to learn to make your own – and possibly adjust your taste buds. With the Internet you can find many recipes for healthy, nutritious and delicious snacks. If making your own doesn’t have much appeal for you, shop in stores that provide healthy alternatives. For example, Whole Foods is starting to stock their shelves with more nutritious snacks.  However, the reality is that the very best alternatives are fresh fruits and crunchy vegetables served with healthy dips like hummus, guacamole, and date dip.

Nutrition Tips: Make your own salt and vinegar chips without the additives. Use a mandoline slicer to slice potatoes extra thin. Then, soak in vinegar, pat dry and sprinkle with sea salt. Lay slices on parchment paper and microwave on high for two or three minutes at a time – until crisp.

If your eating habits include large quantities of processed foods, deleting them from your diet can be a serious challenge. In fact, you may believe it will be impossible, but it is not.  Of course, you have to be committed to the process, and be patient with yourself.  Your habits have developed over a lifetime and it will take time to change them. I am sure you have heard that it takes 21 days to develop a habit. That may seem like a very long time – 3 weeks – but look at it from the positive slant. In less than a month processed foods will be out of your life and you will be on the road to a much healthier diet and a healthier body

If your diet is entirely made up of processed convenience foods, you may want to take it in steps – three weeks at a time. Begin with eliminating fast foods (McDonalds, Jack-in-the-Box, Wendy’s); then, stop eating frozen dinners and prepackaged meals. Next, get rid of foods that are common to the American diet, but filled with additives such as hot dogs (change to Hebrew National), packaged sandwich meat (change to sliced deli meat, particularly Black Forest), etc.  Then go for the tough one – unhealthy snacks (crackers, chips, Cheetos, packaged cookies, etc.)  You get the idea, I am sure.

[typography font=”Myriad Pro” size=”18″ size_format=”px” color=”#c7022a”]Ordinary Table Salt[/typography]

Standard table salt that most of us use – in the round blue container – comes from underground mines and processed until there is nothing left other than sodium and chloride.  To make matters even worse, they treat it with aluminum to prevent clumping. The result is that when ingested it becomes acidic and can create heart burn, high blood pressure and stroke – which is not news. We have known for a long time that salt can affect blood pressure and lead to stroke.

Alternatives: Doctors tells patients regularly to cut down on salt (or even eliminate it completely from their diets). Yes, everyone should stop using ordinary table salt. Sodium can be added in the form of non-iodized sea salt and dried celery. It is best to add them at the end of the cooking cycle. Our bodies need some sodium, just be careful to choose a healthy type of sodium.

Nutrition Tips: In addition to using non-iodized sea salt and dried celery, it is important to note that there are foods which have naturally high sodium content. These foods are a good source of sodium and do not need to be regulated unless instructed by your physician for health reasons. Try adding seeds, strawberries, raisins, coconut, lentils, barley, kale, cabbage, celery and carrots to some of your dishes to increase the salty flavor. Another tip is to trick your taste buds into thinking there is salt on your salad by drizzling it with lemon juice.

If you know that you have any condition such as thyroid issues that may be affected by certain types of salt, please, talk to your doctor about the best choices for you. There is also the question of iodine. If you give up table salt, you may have to take an iodine supplement – another question for your doctor. Do not take the supplement on your own; it could put your health in danger. It is always wise to check with your doctor before taking supplements of any kind.

[typography font=”Myriad Pro” size=”18″ size_format=”px” color=”#c7022a”]Processed Sugar[/typography]

Processed sugar is at the top of the list of foods to avoid – it has no nutritional value whatsoever. Brown sugar is also processed and nutritionally no better than white sugar.  In fact, it is white sugar with molasses added, which changes the color, flavor and texture – not the nutritional value. It is not a healthier choice than white sugar.

There are a number of good alternatives, but even those should be eaten in small quantities because of their high caloric content and limited nutrients.

Alternatives: Agave is OK and certainly better than white sugar because it does not affect insulin levels as much, but has no real nutritional value. Your best choices are: dates, coconut sugar, real maple syrup, and honey.

Nutrition Tips:  Many people enjoy honey and lemon in their tea, but be careful because honey is high in calories. Although it is a natural sweetener and a good alternative to sugar, the only health benefit that I know of is the use of fresh local honey to combat allergies. Be careful . . . honey fed to children under three-years-old can cause botulism. As a tasty breakfast treat, use a small serving of real maple syrup topped with fresh fruit. You may like sugar on your oatmeal, but try using a little coconut sugar and chopped dates instead.

Dates are wonderfully versatile and nutritious – rich in minerals (iron, potassium, calcium, manganese, magnesium, copper, and calcium), fiber, tannins, vitamin A, B-carotene and carotenoids. Use them freely as a natural sweetener – add some to your smoothies and make a scrumptious dip for apples by soaking them in water and blending to a smooth puree.

[typography font=”Myriad Pro” size=”18″ size_format=”px” color=”#c7022a”]Fatty Foods[/typography]

There are “studies” to support every opinion regarding fat in the diet and all they do is confuse us. The conclusions range from advice on the “good fats” we should include in our diet to others that say “no fat” is the only way to go and then there are those who proclaim that “you can eat all the fat you want.”

The basic facts are: There are saturated and unsaturated fats. Saturated fats raise the level of cholesterol in your blood increasing your risk of heart disease and stroke – the major food culprits are fatty meats, cream, butter and cheese – delicious, but not good for your health and should be avoided. This is particularly important if you have high cholesterol.

You do need some fat in your diet, which should come from unsaturated sources: nuts, avocado, olive oil, canola oil, and fish are good choices – but don’t overdo it. Fats are fats!

Alternatives: The truth is that fats make things taste good and it is easy to get carried away with the amount of fat in your diet – almost without realizing it. Pay attention and incorporate good (unsaturated fats) into your diet. Cook with olive oil, bake with coconut oil, and try the less common grape seed oil. But even with these unsaturated fats, use a light hand.

It is better to get the necessary amount of fat in your diet through fatty plants: avocados (YUM), olives, bananas, nuts and seeds. These are a much better source of healthy fats because they are also nutritionally rich. So, even though they are high in calories, they are worth it because of the health benefits.

Nutrition Tips: Start cutting down on fat when making soups, chili, and casseroles. Eliminating the fat will not change the flavor. If you feel compelled to include fats in your cooking, stay with the unsaturated choices – and use a measuring spoon!  If you love to drizzle your roasted vegetables with olive oil, try this: roast the veggies, place in a warm serving bowl and toss with 1 tablespoon oil (that is all you need for a lot of veggies). Add the herbs and they are ready to serve. When you drizzle from the bottle, you will always use too much.

When you roast or bake anything – vegetables, pizza, biscuits, etc. line the pan with parchment paper instead of coating it with oil or butter. You will be surprised at the result – crisp and delicious, without the fat. And . . . the pan is practically clean – no muss, no fuss.

Avoid all “fat free” products. They are loaded with sugar to compensate for the loss of flavor that results when the fats are removed. You are trading one evil for another. Both are very bad for your health. Your mantra should be, stay as close to nature as possible when choosing the foods you eat.

[typography font=”Myriad Pro” size=”18″ size_format=”px” color=”#c7022a”]Alcohol[/typography]

Regardless of the “new studies” that show the benefits of wine, the fact is that alcohol in any form is not good for you and should be avoided, or at the very least ingested in very limited quantities. If you must have your glass of red wine with dinner, go for it. The actual benefits are questionable, but probably will not hurt you, either.  However, other types of alcohol have ABSOLUTELY NO BENEFITS.

Alternatives: Search the Internet – there are recipe books for non-alcoholic cocktails, a recent release, Zero Proof Cocktails by Liz Scott is one possibility. She explains how to use nectars, syrups, herbs and spices, fresh juices and even more uses of seltzers. Learn to make you own healthy, delicious non-alcoholic drinks for parties and holidays and avoid the after effects and problems that come from alcohol.

Nutrition Tips: (BYOFB) Bring Your Own Faux Booze to parties. Try making a “Virgin Mary” by juicing fresh tomatoes and carrots, add a little jalapeno or Tabasco Sauce if you like, and garnish with a slice of lemon and celery stick. Enjoy the festivities with no headache or hangover the next morning.

Two or three times a year you may choose to go to a party and enjoy a drink or two (more is never a good idea). But, recognize that drinking is NOT good for you, no matter how much you like it. If you find yourself struggling to avoid alcohol or stop with one glass of wine with dinner, you may want to get help. For most people, giving up alcohol may be slightly difficult in the beginning, but they soon realize that there can live happy lives full of fun without alcohol – and after a while they don’t miss it at all.  

 [typography font=”Cantarell” size=”12″ size_format=”px”]Copyright © 2014 Blurtigo Holdings, LLC All Rights Reserved.
[/typography]