If you want to lose weight, get in peak shape, or live a long, healthy life you should strive for a 90/10 ratio – meaning 90% of your diet is comprised of healthy, wholefoods and 10% is cheating foods. Here’s the thing though, allowing yourself a little freedom in your diet is great so that you don’t feel deprived and quit all-together, however some foods are so bad for you, I really would recommend avoiding them altogether. I call these foods the Dirty Six.
The Dirty Six
Fried Potato Products
Potato chips and fries are almost always deep-fried with trans fats. Trans fats are used because they help to increase shelf-life, however, when it comes to your health they are the worst type of fat you can eat. They increase the unhealthy LDL cholesterol levels and decrease the health-supporting HDL cholesterol – leading to an increased risk for America’s #1 killer – heart disease. Chips and fries also raise your insulin levels, which leads to excess belly fat, and they contain a known carcinogen (cancer-causing compound) called acrylamide.
A quick tip: Next time you have a craving for something salty and crunchy try making kale chips instead.
Doughnuts are high in sugar, calories, saturated fats and carbs and most contain a ton of added preservatives to increase their shelf-life. When you eat them, it leads to a jump in blood sugar, which eventually drops setting you up for cravings for more junk food and rapid weight gain. Plus just one doughnut provides almost 50% of the daily recommended limit for saturated fat.
A quick tip: If you’re craving something sweet, try a vegan dessert such a chocolate coconut ball or a vegan peanut butter cup.
Dairy is highly allergenic and it’s the top source of artery-clogging saturated fats in the American diet (which contributes to diabetes, heart disease, and Alzheimer’s disease). Dairy also increases the risk for lung, breast, and ovarian cancer and it’s loaded with estrogen which can lead to estrogen dominance – a prevalent and underdiagnosed health condition with serious consequences. Also worth mentioning – the myth that milk strengthens your bones has been discredited by many large scale studies. In fact, one study of more than 96,000 people found that the more cows milk male teenagers consumed, the more bone fractures they experienced as adults.
A quick tip: Swap cows milk for almond, cashew, oat, rice or coconut milk.
It amazes me that so many children and adults start their days off with this awful stuff. Most breakfast cereals are loaded with inflammation-causing sugar and refined carbohydrates which rapidly get broken down into sugar. The result? Your blood sugar spikes and a few hours later it drops, leaving you feeling hungry, tired, and foggy-headed – not exactly a good way to start your day! Plus most are also loaded with gluten which inflames the stomach lining and can increase skin breakouts and many have artificial colors and flavorings added as well.
A quick tip: Instead of cereal, try starting your day off with a large bowl of chia pudding or oatmeal with apples and cinnamon.
While most meats are high in saturated fat and estrogens, highly processed meats such as hot dogs, bacon, luncheon meats, sausages, ham, and corned beef are extra bad for you because the processing creates inflammatory compounds, nitrates, and nitrites which are carcinogenic. And don’t be fooled by ‘organic’ processed meats – most contain celery powder which is just as high in nitrites as the artificially added nitrite sources.
A quick tip: I’m not a fan of meat but if you must eat it, choose unprocessed, organic sources with no additives, and try to limit your serving size to 2-4 ounces, 1 to 2 times per week.
Sugary beverages are major diet and health sabotagers and this includes fruit juice. There is a misbelief that 100% fruit juice is healthy, however, when the fruit is stripped of its fiber, the natural sugars have the same harmful effect on your body as the sugars in soda. In fact, recent research found just one fruit juice or soda a day can increase your risk for premature death and lead to 5 lbs of weight gain per year. And artificially sweetened drinks aren’t any better – most sweeteners are carcinogenic and neurotoxic; plus studies show they can lead to cravings for more sweets and people tend to gain weight when they drink them.
Quick tip: Try infusing mint, berries, or oranges in soda or spring water, or make homemade lemonade with freshly squeezed lemon juice and stevia.
Additional Dirty Foods to Avoid:
Vegetable oils, margarine, deep-fried foods, refined flour products, popcorn, candy, coffee creamers, sports drinks, foods with added sugar, and most processed foods.
Eating a healthy, wholefoods based diet doesn’t need to bore your tastebuds or feel like a chore. With a little creativity, wholefoods, plant-based diet can be deliciously satisfying for you and your whole family. If you want to thrive off what you eat, reduce your risk for chronic disease, slim your waistline, getting glowing skin and never feel deprived again, get a copy of my Simply Healthy Cookbook.
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