A a natural-born optimist, I usually like to focus on the positive foods we can nourish our bodies with.
However, there are a handful foods which do deserve a special mention about why we shouldn’t be eating them. Sure, we know these foods aren’t good for our health, but do you know why they are unhealthy and what we can eat instead?
While it doesn’t hurt to have a little treat from time to time, here’s my top 5 unhealthy food picks to avoid whenever you can. (And some healthy food swaps you can choose instead!)
Colored Candies & Jellies
If ‘nutrition’ is used to define food that gives our bodies nutrients, then candies may very well belong to a category of ‘anti-nutrition' as they cause our bodies harm rather than providing any nutrients.
In addition to being a concentrated source of processed sugar that can spike blood sugar levels, cause mood swings and drive weight gain, these treats are also filled with artificial colors and flavors. Many of these chemical additives are known to cause behavioral issues and food sensitivities.
Furthermore, jellies often contain gelatin. Unless the product is organic, this gelatin is likely to come from questionable livestock sources.
SWAP WITH: For a healthier option at a special occasion, opt for organic candies and jellies, as organic certification bodies tend to more tightly regulate additive use. Dried fruit with some bright edible flowers can also make a beautiful snack display filled with naturally sweet goodness!
Cola (Including The Diet Versions!)
Of all the sodas, cola is probably the worst health offender. It’s got it all: sugar, harmful additives and good kick of caffeine too, just to top it off!
While you might be saving yourself some tooth decay with the diet versions, these are filled with artificial sweeteners which have been linked with brain and kidney issues (that far outweighs any potential dental benefits!).
SWAP WITH: For very special occasions, mix a little organic sarsaparilla cordial with filtered mineral water.
Salami and Other Fatty Deli Meats
These charcuterie goods have been delighting human tastebuds for centuries. While our predecessors enjoyed them in much healthier moderation, overconsumption of these meats in the modern world is not good for our health.
Pumped full of salt, sodium nitrates and nitrites, these fatty meats may taste delicious but are brimming with compounds that can affect our blood pressure, cardiovascular system and kidneys. Deli meats also contain inflammatory compounds which have been linked with chronic disease and even cancer!
SWAP WITH: Organic pastrami or wild-caught smoked salmon.
It’s often said that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. It kickstarts our metabolism and provides our body with the fuel and nutrients we need to sustain our focus, mood and energy through to lunch time.
Sugary cereals flood our bodies with an instant rush of energy that spikes our blood sugar levels (making us feel good temporarily) then creates a crash (causing us to feel tired and foggy). Some of these products also contain Butylated Hydroxytoluene (BHA), which are suspected carcinogens that are banned in many countries.
SWAP WITH: Bircher muesli, oatmeal, steel cut oats, sourdough grainy bread, brown rice porridge or buckwheat pancakes. All are delicious and can be naturally sweetened, without the blood sugar fluctuations or added nasties!
Deceptively light and fluffy, it’s easy to chow through a bunch of Cheetos without realizing how many you’ve eaten! The ‘crunch’ is super moreish and the salty, cheesy combo has been developed to hook our tastebuds!
Aside from the simple carbohydrate, fat and salt content, cheetos also contain a couple of additives which put our health at risk. Cheetos contain yellow (6) color, which has been banned in several European countries for its tumor risk in laboratory studies. This cheesy snack is also full of MSG, which may cause depression, eye damage, headaches and appetite disruption.
SWAP WITH: Organic corn chips dusted with a little brazil nut cheese… Super satisfying and oh-so tasty!