As I’ve learned and grown in the field of nutrition, my priorities have evolved and shifted too. From someone who obsessed over every morsel of food I ate (or didn’t), as I discuss in The Healthy Life, to someone who now embraces and celebrates balance and indulgence, I’ve run the spectrum of clean healthy eating!
And while I do prioritise balance, there are certain foods that I still won’t eat! Not because of fears about my weight, but because of other issues that can be addressed simply by eating real, whole foods. That’s the beauty of it – there are easy, healthy swaps so that I never feel deprived.
1. Breakfast cereals. Often packed with salt, sugar and preservatives, store bought breakfast cereals are a no-no. Get back to the basics!
2. Processed peanut butter. This stuff is loaded with sugar and preservatives – you can taste the difference if you’ve had the natural kind! No need to add anything.
Swap: Try 100% nut butter, or make your own. I love almond and even sunflower seed butters.
3. Processed bread. Most packaged breads bought in supermarkets are refined, processed, and packed with wheat and gluten, which can make it difficult for the body to digest.
Swap: Choose sprouted Ezekiel bread, gluten-free varieties, or make one of my healthy loaves. This vegetable bread is one of my favs!
4. Processed meat. Are you seeing a trend here? Ditch the processed stuff! And when it comes to meat, consider the conditions the animals have lived in. They’re often crowded and full of disease, prompting the use of antibiotics and growth hormones. Processed meats are also packed with sodium nitrate, chemicals, dyes and flavours.
Swap: Choose grass-fed, organic meat whenever you can.
5. Margarine. While I am a firm believer in healthy fats, margarine is high in trans fat – fats formed during hydrogenation process (turning liquid vegetable oil into solid). Not something we need in our bodies!
Swap: Use organic butter, coconut butter or oil, or even avocado as a butter alternative.
6. Table salt. It’s highly refined, which means it’s left with very little nutritional value. We have a tendency to overdue it with salt as it is, which can lead to hypertension, so it’s best to season with other spices.
Swap: Try Himalayan pink crystal salt when needed for seasoning and baking.
7. Unfermented soy products. Highly processed tofu and soy can mess with your hormones. Not enough information is known at this stage for me to feel the need to include it in my diet.
Swap: Try organic fermented soy products like tempeh or miso.
8. Canned tomatoes. Did you know that canned tomatoes and sauces are packed with salt and sugar? Plus, the resin lining of some tins may contain a synthetic oestrogen called bisphenol-A, which is linked to reproductive issues, obesity and diabetes. No thanks!
Swap: Choose bottled tomatoes, or saute fresh tomatoes and herbs to make your own tomato sauce.
9. Non-organic dairy. Dairy cattle are often treated with hormones, like recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH) to increase milk production – not only is this awful for the cows (think major infections) but it can impact our health as well.
Swap: Use organic milk products, or try almond or coconut milk. If you’re feeling ambitious, you can even make homemade almond milk – it’s surprisingly easy!
10. Pre-packaged, frozen meals. These meals are usually full of sugar, corn syrup, salt and nasty preservatives. Not so convenient after all!
Swap: Set aside some time on the weekend for food prep. Pack pre-made lunches and snacks so that you’ve always got something fresh and healthy to grab when you’re in a rush. I’ve got more tips on that here!