We can run a million miles a day, do cross fit like an original Spartan soldier, and compete in the Olympics, but if we don’t recognize that about 80% of our fitness success starts in the kitchen, it will be almost impossible to reach our goals. Not only do our food choices contribute to our weight goals, but they make us healthy on from the inside-out.
Think of how many skinny-minny people you know with limp hair, dull skin, and lack luster energy levels. Skinny does not equal healthy or strong, and I cannot emphasize that enough. Likewise, being addicted to working out is just as unhealthy as extreme portion control. In fact, relentless working is incredibly harmful for your body, causing adrenal fatigue and even injury. A lack of balance in our eating or workout routine is a symptom of poor mental health. Remember, health isn’t just physical. It’s very much a mental thing. Some of the unhealthiest, unhappiest people I know have gym bodies to die for, but I wouldn’t want to spend one day in their head space. It’s important to give ourselves grace to make mistakes with our diets, miss a day at the gym, or not be at our ideal weight so long as we’re pursuing healthy habits one day at a time.
Being healthy is a lifestyle, so it should be something we can sustain and enjoy. Trying to figure out what to eat can be stressful, which is why I shared some guidelines to eating healthy, regardless of a particular diet. Making small changes can have a huge impact on your overall health, and that’s really an encouraging thing when you think about it. Climbing a mountain seems daunting; hiking up one trail after another is manageable. So today, let’s talk about some of those terrible, horrible, no good very bad foods that sabotage not only our health, but our weight goals. Sometimes, the simplest way to find lasting health is to simply start eliminating crappy options one at time, or a group of five at a time (hint hint…this list!) to see major benefits right away.
Let’s skip the obvious “Big Baddies” like sugar, or the “Arguably Unhealthy” foods such as meat or dairy. There five foods are a guarantee wrecking ball to your fitness goals. And if you didn’t just hear “Wrecking Ball” and think Miley Cyrus, then the over saturation of pop cultured has failed us all. So here are the PLEASE Don’t Eat these Terrible, Horrible, No Good Very Bad Rotten Foods.
Jesus take the wheel, where do we even start with this food item except to say, is it a food item? That’s really up for debate. A lot of my friends use processed meat as a “healthy snack” or a quick go to protein source. Here’s what makes it such a no good, very bad, awful food: processed meats are linked to an increased risk of cancers (colon cancer in particular) and early death. YIKES! These products also tend to have lots of salt, fat, and cholesterol, and the calorie to nutrients ratio pretty much sucks big time. Lunch meats might be our go-to for making school sandwiches and quick meal prep food, but they are sooo bad for our bodies. And I’m gonna do an animal rights plug reeeeeeeal quick: the treatment and slaughter methods used for turning these animals into processed foods is really, really horrendous and also very unsanitary.
→TIP: Make crock pot meals your go to! Throw some meat in a crock pot, go to sleep and you’ll have an amazing, healthy version to processed meat. Saute your meat, which takes less than 10 minutes and gives us a million recipes options.
Carbonated Drinks + Juices + Bottled Teas:
I think by now we know soda is an abomination to our health, which is too bad because I love me some soft drinks. But did you know your so called healthy juice is probably just a bunch of empty calories? Unless juice is cold pressed, juice loses its enzymes and most nutrients within about 15 minutes. That bottled iced tea might be sugar-free, but it isn’t chemical-free. If you look at the ingredient list on our favorite bottled drinks, they’re full of sugars and/or artificial ingredients. Carbonated drinks also rapidly leaches calcium right out of your bones. OMG I’mma gonna freak out now. Celebrity nutritionist Kimberly Snyder said if she could convince her clients to forgo one unhealthy item, it’d be carbonated drinks. The next thing she’d recommend ditching: milk and milk products. Whomp whomp. So sad…cheese is delicious…so delicious. I still haven’t made that 100% cut yet. I probably never will. We all have our vices…
→ TIP: Flavor your water with fruits, ginger roots, mint leaves, cucumbers….the possibilities are endless. Or, drink green tea. It’s an amazing source of antioxidants. Your body will make the transition over and thank you for abandoning scary soda.
Low-fat packaged foods:
Fat isn’t your enemy. Bad fat is though, and low-fat foods are crappy and most definitely bad for your weight loss goals. Low fat foods that come by way of cookies, salad dressings, yogurt, and other foods substitute fats by adding sugar, salt, and unhealthy fillers. The body doesn’t work very well when it’s filled with toxic ingredients. If your car is supposed to run on gasoline, you wouldn’t put tar in it, right? Why are we putting “fuel” in our bodies that the body can’t process or use? It just tears up our engines. You can buy a new car, but not a new body.
TIP: If it comes in a package, a bag, or a box, and it’s not a whole food (like rice, seeds, nuts), it’s probably not a great option for you. Make or pack your own snacks. Meal prep to avoid reaching for “the easy option.” It’s an amazing opportunity to give your body what it really needs when you’re craving a snack: ENERGY. FUEL. NUTRIENTS.
Margarine & butter substitutes:
OMG the thought of margarine literally makes me a little sick to my stomach. It’s such a non-food that it’s pretty terrifying. Again, the more synthetic an ingredient is, the less the body can profit from it. It’s touted as a cholesterol-free, healthy alternative to butter, but margarine is the ultimate source of trans fats. Trans fats actually elevate cholesterol and damage blood vessel walls, reports The Natural Health Hub website. Butter gets a bad rap, but in moderation, organic butter is fine, unless you’re choosing to live dairy free or vegan.
→ TIP: skip the fake stuff and go with olive oil, organic butter, ghee or other REAL fats.
This makes me so sad, because I love the thought of having my cake and skinniness too. I like cheating the scale and eating what I assume are empty, zero calories. Buuuuut….zero doesn’t mean zero in the endocrine world. We know artificial sweeteners are bad for us, but it’s so hard to face real calories head on when there’s a “simpler” option of no calories sweetener. Going back to the car analogy, artificial sweeteners might be “zero” calories, but the body can’t process them as fuel. It has no purpose for them, so they just clog up our engines, wreck out metabolism, and usually make people gain weight despite the big zero calories lure. AND that’s not even going into what they do to our endocrine system or the scary cancer, neurological, and intestinal risks associated with them. It’s better to eat real sugar infrequently than artificial sweeteners daily.
→ TIP: better options are natural sweeteners like unprocessed fruit juices, stevia, honey, and organic maple syrup. Coconut nectar either dried or in syrup form has a very low glycemic index, which means it won’t mess with your blood sugar. It’s not a low cal substitute, but it makes a great replacement for brown sugar.
It’s amazing to me how hard we often work to run around in circles. I remember days when I used to practically kill myself in the gym to compensate for the unhealthy choices I made with my food. While I kept the scale relatively under control, I was working way too hard to reach a goal that is meant to be achieved naturally and without stress. The answer was simple: get back to whole foods (um, like actual non-processed foods, not the world’s most ridiculously over-priced but fabulous food market), and recognize that health and weight management starts from the inside-out. Our bodies want to be healthy. Our bodies want nutrients. Our energy level, quality of our lives, and our overall happiness is worth eliminating those tempting things that hold us back from reaching our health and fitness goals. Weight management might never be a breeze for some people, but it doesn’t have to be the chore we make it to be. Let’s pursue the naturally fit life and embrace change! Much love, from my heart.
I couldn’t agree more with this post. As a registered dietitian I’m always getting to get people to see that we need to go back to eating whole foods the way they come out of the ground, out of the sea, etc. Have you read Michael Pollan’s Food Rules? It’s up the same alley.
Hey Laura! I couldn’t agree more about how essential whole foods are to our diet! I love hearing thoughts from my friends who are dietitians like you, because you all have so much insight on how food can and should be beneficial to our bodies. I haven’t heard of Pollan’s good rules, but I’m going to look that up now! Any advice for helping family and/or friends get off of the standard American diet and eating more whole foods?
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Thanks Camryn! I think what works best is to help people determine their goals and then take small steps to get there. For example, encouraging them to focus on making just one meal of the day more ” whole,” or even just targeting snack choices for a while and, once they have that down, moving on to the next thing. A big switch in diet can be really overwhelming and not long-lasting, so I find baby steps works best. Thanks for asking!
*trying to get, not getting to get!