As a Holistic Nutritionist, I am always asked about particular foods and whether or not they are health promoting or not. I really don’t like to label foods as “good” or “bad” but there are some foods that I personally don’t have in my home and if I don’t have them in my home, I don’t think you would want them in your home. It’s not about attaching a label to something, it is simply about incorporating the best foods that make you feel amazing and leaving out the ones that tend to not make you feel so great. Perhaps you may not even realize that the food itself is better left out of your kitchen and it is my goal to educate and inspire always.
So let’s get to it then, this is my list of unhealthy foods to avoid otherwise known as the five foods you won’t find in my kitchen!
Damaged oils (Canola, margarine (of any kind- yes that includes those vegan ones), sunflower/safflower, corn, soybean, peanut): I have written about the healthy oils I use in detail before, which you can check out here. I thought it bears repeating again as I find so many people are still using damaged oils like canola in their everyday cooking. These types of oils are processed like you wouldn’t believe and once you cook with them, they cause serious health issues like inflammation. The oils I use for cooking are simple: coconut oil, avocado oil or ghee. That is it! As for oils that I use in dressings, sauces and other uses that don’t involve cooking, I use sesame or extra virgin olive oil. This is all you will find in my pantry. I have really gotten into making my own ghee lately and I cannot believe I used to pay about $20 for a jar of it before when it is so easy to make yourself. The best tip I have for making your own ghee is to find and use the best quality butter you can, usually that would be grass fed and/or organic. It may cost more, but this is far superior in terms of nutrition and probably in taste too!
White Sugar: I think by now, we all know that sugar has some issues, right? Of course, I am not on the “I quit sugar” train either, because girl loves her desserts. However, when I am baking in my home, I leave out the refined white sugar and opt for sugars that are a bit more natural and offer more nutrients. For baking, I use maple syrup the most, followed by coconut sugar and sucanat. I also use natural sugars like dates and banana as well, which offer fiber in addition to glucose which helps with how it is metabolized by the body. I also use raw honey as well, which contains minerals, vitamins (all those precious B vitamins) and antioxidants. I don’t cook with raw honey as the heat will alter the nutritional composition like the natural enzymes, vitamins and minerals. If you are adding it to your latte, like I do, wait and add it in once it has cooled slightly and you are ready to drink it.
Agave: Agave is often touted as a health food or a healthier alternative to sugar and you can find it in many health food stores, but you won’t find it in my kitchen. Agave is heavily processed and actually contains more fructose than high fructose corn syrup (yikes!). Originally thought to be healthy and recommended to diabetics as it was low in glucose and low in terms of the glycemic index, it may increase your insulin resistance. This causes your insulin levels to stay elevated and we don’t want that. The high amount of fructose from this syrup may also lead to weight gain, as your body may not release leptin (a hormone that controls appetite) and fructose is converted into fat quicker than glucose.
Cow’s Milk: This is a loaded one that often brings up a lot of colourful discussion. I get it, people like milk, they have been drinking it for their whole lives and need it for their coffee/tea. But, I haven’t had a glass of cow’s milk in well over four years and my bones haven’t become brittle and I have never felt better. Sure, this is purely anecdotal but this is after all my story. Now, lets get to the actual facts about cows milk. It is often described as nature’s perfect food due to the structure of protein, fat and carbohydrate ratio but it is also what a calf drinks to grow big and strong. So why are humans drinking the milk of another animal? And why does the government push this product so hard, must be because of all the scientific studies backing it, right? Except, that studies funded by the food industry show positive benefits 8 TIMES more than independently funded studies. And lets not even get started on the dairy industry and how their bottom line is profits, not your health and well being. Then there is the confusion on whether to buy skim or 1% or whole and most people I know buy 1% or skin, thinking that this is going to help them with their weight. It turns out, the opposite is true, and it has been shown that skim and 1% milk were associated with weight gain. True, milk contains calcium and this is an essential mineral for many reasons, but there are better ways to get calcium, such as from leafy green vegetables. Often times too, people have sensitivities or allergies to milk and would benefit from getting their calcium from another source that is more easily digestible. Further studies have also shown that drinking milk does not reduce the risk of fractures and often times the countries with the lowest milk consumption have the lowest risk of osteoporosis and fractures. Even more, the added hormones in milk can potentially present an even bigger issue still, even if you are buying organic and have been linked to prostate cancer in men. I have seen countless people’s lives made better from removing dairy (cow’s in particular), especially in cases where there are allergies, asthma and eczema, especially in children, where milk is one of the most common allergens. Did you make it through this list? It is a lot I know, and for this reason, you won’t find cow’s milk in my fridge. On the odd occasion, I may have some fermented milk, such as kefir or goat/sheep cheese and yogurt, but other than that, I am dairy free most of the time. I have recently gotten into making my own coconut yogurt and I love it!
Vegan meat/cheese: This is not a diss to my vegan friends by any means, but if you are vegan and still eating the processed meat and cheese products, please stop. Back when I was vegan, there were not many dairy free cheese options, so I did try some of the cheezes out there and honestly hated them, so not having them in my house is not a problem. There are of course great quality nut cheeses out there that are delicious and I have no problem with those, it’s the highly processed fake cheeses and meats that I have a problem with. If you look at the ingredients and find things like: vital wheat gluten or tons of fake, cheap oils, soy, natural flavours including autolyzed yeast extract (see MSG) or pea protein, you can bet it is not the most health promoting food. Don’t let the clever marketing fool you into thinking that these are a better option because they don’t contain cholesterol or are low in fat. They are processed, filled with ingredients that can cause allergies or sensitivities and really have no place in my fridge. There are tons of whole food options made with real foods that make a better veg option and so I will stick with that any day.
There you have it, these are five foods you won’t find in my kitchen. So, let me know, are there any foods that you were surprised by on this list? What foods will I not find in your house?