The last few shifts have been wide open, non-stop calls and your town is holding the county fair this month on top of it. The mantra “I will sleep when I am dead” has become almost a reality and sitting down to eat; yeah right. Sound familiar?
One of my favorite sayings is that “you cannot out exercise a bad diet.” But what if that bad diet has long-term lethal effects? What if that bad diet is making you sick right now?
Food is deeply personal and heavily tied to traditions and calendar dates (birthdays, holidays); I will refrain from the doughnut reference. Sadly many of the foods we choose to eat are hands down bad for us. Let’s focus on choice for a minute; wellness is a choice. Feeling good, being fit and not living in pain is a choice. No one can make those choices for you; you have to decide every day to make good choices and it’s a challenge every day. I am not saying be a saint either, have a ‘free meal’ 1 day per week, the rest of the time make good choices.
Before we dive into the 5 fatal foods keep this in mind; there are a lot of myths and misinformation about food and nutrition. Advertisers and manufacturers will say just about anything to make a sale and sadly few of these folks have your nutritional best interest in mind, they are there to make a profit.
1. Hidden Sugar: Sugar and more importantly sugar substitutes (high fructose corn syrup, aspartame) are everywhere. Sugar is added to foods that have no business needing sugar. Ketchup, BBQ sauce and salad dressings to name a paltry few. Bottom line: read labels
2. Sugar in Plain sight: White bread, white rice, white potatoes, Pasta and good old cow milk. As your body brakes these foods down they become sugar. Food is color coded, the darker it is (unprocessed food folks) the better it is for you, the lighter it is the less nutritional value it has. Bottom line: substitute dark for light. Baked potato-sweet potato, rice-broccoli and milk-almond milk.
3. Chemicals: To keep foods fresh longer, make them look prettier or have a better consistency a lot of interesting things are added to our foods. The FDA has a list of foods it categorizes as “generally recognized as safe for human consumption” even though the FDA admits that many of these GRAS foods have not been vetted long term they are still allowed in our foods. Interestingly in Europe many of the GRAS ingredients are banned. Bottom line: Carrageenan, Brominated vegetable oils (BVO), Fractionated oils (common in meal replacement bars) BHA (Butylated Hydroxyanisole) and BHT (Butylated Hydroxytoluene) and what about the big news story a few months back about plastic in your bread?
4. Fat: Let’s start out understanding that there are good fats and bad fats. Olive oil is a good fat, flax seeds are a good fat and nuts are good fats. Bacon (keep calm!) is a bad fat, fried foods are bad fats as are almost all the fat’s added to our food in the form of partially hydrogenated oils. Bottom line: fat is not bad for you; it’s the kind of fat that causes the problem. The smell that so entices you as you drive past that burger joint is burning fat, how cave man of you!
5. Gluttony: While not a food per say we really need to hit on this one. As a society we overeat, we are served portions that are often 2x more then we need. You work in LE; how fast can you put down a meal before you are hit with another call?…..epic speed eating. Portion control is incredibly important, simply eating smaller portions (think eat more later) will not only help to keep the calories down but you will not ingest as much of the bad stuff if your portions are less. At home use a smaller plate. Eating out? Take half home. When buying foods, drinks, shakes etc. read the serving size. Many drinks and foods that are packaged have 2-3 servings (think meals) per container; you eat it in one. Bottom line: read the label before you buy it. If you cannot pronounce the name of the chemical, additive etc., maybe make a better choice.
To avoid the 5 fatal foods is simply a choice; you have the choice to be healthy, you have the choice to not live in pain, you also have the choice to be un-well and suffer. It’s all about choices.