Posted by on July 28, 2017

A healthy diet is simple, really simple. Back in the day, our grandmothers made our food from scratch. Today it’s  made by manufactures that rely on additives, preservatives, artificial ingredients, fat, salt, too much sugar, and “natural” made-in-a-lab flavor. True health requires that we keep it simple and avoid overly processed food with ingredients we can’t pronounce.

FOOD TO AVOID

Sugar and artificial sweeteners6861897600_a8d77b0f9d_o
Read food labels carefully because sugar and sugar substitutes show up in strange places like soup, deli meat, chicken stock, salad dressing and in many of those “healthy” protein bars. Start by cutting it out of places it doesn’t belong and choose natural sweeteners like raw honey and dates instead of sugar.

345891007_99b7a16717_bDairy
If you are lactose intolerant, milk and dairy can cause a host of unpleasant digestive issues. If you suffer from digestive issues or pain, limit dairy or avoid it completely. Almond milk is a great non-dairy alternative to cow’s milk. If you can tolerate dairy, make sure the milk you buy is organic and hormone and antibiotic free. 

16672818722_76c2a94545_zWheat (try ancestral grains)
If you have celiac disease, gluten sensitivity, IBS, or digestive issues, avoid wheat, rye, barley and triticale (a hybrid of wheat and rye).

U.S. wheat has been hybridized and it isn’t quite as nutritious as the wheat our grandmothers ate. If you want something healthier, try ancestral or heirloom grains like farro, a collection of 3 grains (einkorn, spelt and emmer), Kamut, or Turkey Red wheat.

Beans and legumes
If you have serious digestive issues such as IBS, bloating, gas, or any kind of digestive pain, you may want to limit or avoid beans and legumes. Tip: if you soak beans overnight, they are a little easier to digest.

Artificial colors
Red #40, Yellow #5, and Yellow #6 contain benzidene, a likely human and animal carcinogen. There is evidence linking food dyes to behavioral problems including hyperactivity in some children. Foods that contain artificial colors must contain warning labels in Europe, but not here. Be sure to read labels if you want to avoid them.

Ditch plastic – BPA (Bisphenol-A) and BPA-free
Why is plastic part of a section on diet? Most of our food and water is packaged in plastic and research shows that the harmful, estrogen like chemicals found in plastic can leech out of the container and into our food and water, especially when heated. Further research from the University of Texas at Arlington found that BPA “could well contribute to [breast cancer] tumor growth.” BPA­ free (or BPS) isn’t much better. It may harm brain function and reproductive development in fetuses, infants and children. If you have to use plastic, do not expose it to hot or cold temperatures. Use glass food storage containers and drink water in glass bottles. Avoid canned food, even if it says BPA­free on the label (it may be just as harmful as BPA).

Junk food and overly processed food 
Obviously avoid or severely limit fast-food and food that contains too many artificial ingredients.

Regular table sale – go pink
Himalayan pink salt is minimally processed, doesn’t contain additives and anti­caking agents and has more trace minerals such as calcium, potassium, magnesium and iron than regular salt. Himalayan salt has a little less sodium than table salt too, which may make it easier to process if you have issues with salt. Celtic salt is another good option.

LIST OF FOOD TO AVOID 

Fish that isn’t wild-caught or sustainably farmed

Large fish such as tuna, including tunafish, ahi, swordfish, orange roughy and king mackerel because it’s high in mercury (See NRDC’s The Smart Seafood Buying Guide or the Environmental Working Group’s Guide to Seafood)

Meat that isn’t organic

Gluten (if you have digestive issues)

Dairy (if you have digestive issues)

Sugar, artificial or processed sweeteners

Grains (if you have digestive issues)

Bean and legumes (if you have digestive issues)

Fried Food

Processed Food

Artificial ingredients

Natural flavor (probably isn’t natural)

Anything you can’t pronounce

GMO’s (genetically modified organisms) because they are typically sprayed with harmful pesticides/herbicides.

Non organic soy or corn (it’s in a lot of processed and prepared food)

Anything in plastic

Cans lined with BPA, BPA-free is just as harmful (see link below)

Fruit and veggies that aren’t organic (or aren’t on the EWG’s list of “Clean 15”)

This list may seem extreme, but the average American grocery store is full of food that contains ingredients we can’t pronounce, additives, preservatives, artificial ingredients, food with cancer causing pesticide residue, too much sugar, fat and salt. How extreme is that?

FOOD TO EAT

USDA certified organic4colorsealJPG
When you commit to USDA certified organic, you support sustainable farming practices, the health of the environment (butterflies, birds and bees are exposed to toxic chemicals sprayed on our crops), healthy soil, the humane treatment of animals, the health of the people who pick your food, the reduction of cancer causing chemicals in our water supply, and you say no to GMOs, antibiotics and hormones. Eating organic is about so much more than pesticides. If you do one thing for your health and the health of your community, buy USDA certified organic from small, local farmers.

Wild-caught or sustainably farmed small fish (large fish have high levels of mercury) and seafood (Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Recommendations)

Organic chicken or turkey (if you eat meat)

Organic fruit

Organic veggies

Organic nuts

Organic raw honey or dates as sweeteners

Organic herbs and spices

Organic eggs

Bottled or filtered water in glass bottles, never plastic (bad for our environment and your health)

Extra Virgin Olive oil

Himalayan Pink Salt

Organic herbal teas

Small amounts of organic fruit juice

Ancestral or heirloom grains (if you eat grains)

Organic legumes

Warning
If you have health concerns, talk to your doctor before starting a new diet.

Learn More
Time – “Why ‘BPA-Free’ May Be Meaningless”
Environmental Working Group’s “Clean Fifteen”
Harvard – “Calcium and Milk: What’s Best for Your Bones and Health?”
Livestrong.com – “Beans and Digestive Problems”
Authority Nutrition – “6 Reasons Why Gluten is Bad for Some People”
Sunrise Flour Mill, LLC. – “Turkey Red, A Heritage Wheat”
Center for Science in the Public Interest – “Food Dyes: A Rainbow of Risks”
National Institutes of Health – “Diet and Nutrition: The Artificial Food Dye Blues”
Environmental Working Group’s “Consumer Guide to Seafood”
Science Daily – “BPA linked to breast cancer tumor growth”
Scientific American – “Plastic (Not) Fantastic: Food Containers Leach a Potential Harmful Chemical”
NPR – “Study: Most Plastic Leach Hormone-Like Chemicals”
Scientific American – “BPA-Free Plastic Containers May Be Just as Hazardous”
Harvard Health Publications – “Microwaving food in plastic: Dangerous or not?”
Mayo Clinic – “Mediterranean diet” A heart-healthy eating plan”
Voice of America – “Oceans Could Hold More Plastic Than Fish by 2050”
Harvard Health Publications/Harvard Medical School – “Adopt a Mediterranean diet now for better health later.”
NPR – “Farro: An Ancient and Complicated Grain Worth Figuring Out” 

Feature Image Knape @iStock

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Posted in: Diet, food, Wellness

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