I have yet to meet a lean, healthy and vibrant individual who eats a diet mostly consisting of Coca Cola, doughnuts, chocolate and pizza. Have you?
Many experts suggest around two-thirds of the calories contained within the modern Western diet come from refined flour, sugar and unhealthy fats - in other words empty calories.
The reason these foods are called empty calories is because they lack the things that support the health and proper functioning of your body - micronutrients such as vitamins and minerals.
Failing to obtain sufficient amounts of vitamins, minerals and essential fats from your diet can result in chronic health conditions, weight gain, fatigue and a general loss of vitality.
The aim of this post it to provide a quick insight into the make up of a proper diet and to help you make wiser food choices most of the time.
Although I will use the term CRAP to describe poor quality food choices in this post its important to emphasise that there really is no such thing as an unhealthy or bad food, rather there are only healthy or unhealthy (good or bad) DIETS. The only exception to this would be trans or hydrogenated fats which I will discuss later.
What you eat MOST OF THE TIME is the most important thing when it comes to building up your health and losing weight.
So long as you are eating real foods about 80-90% of the time you should run into little if any issues eating some CRAAP (junk food's) for the remainder. In fact doing so will probably provide you with better results as you will be able to stick with your diet more easily.
Studies show that when it comes to weight loss dietary adherence is the most important component of your diet, so efforts should be made to ensure you do eat foods you enjoy.
Essential nutrients are substances contained within foods which are required for the normal functioning of your body and which your body cannot make.
Dozens of essential nutrients are required for health and vitality. The categories of essential nutrients include vitamins , minerals, essential fatty acids and essential amino acids.
Essential vitamins and minerals (micronutrients) basically serve as spark plugs for hundreds of chemical reactions inside your body which provide you with growth, energy and vitality. Interestingly, if just 1 essential micronutrient is missing vibrant health is simply not possible.
Therefore its important to ensure that you eat enough of the kinds of foods which contain these essential nutrients.
Certain foods, such as refined grains and sugars, use more nutrients than they provide to be digested and used by the body. For this reason they are called anti-nutrients.
When eaten too frequently anti-nutrients can deplete your body of the precious nutrients it requires to function and create a state of physical degeneration.
Wheat is a good example of a food which is stripped of nutrients during the refining process. Nearly 25 nutrients, including essential minerals like zinc, chromium and manganese, are pulled out with just 4 being artificially replaced.
Anti-nutrients can be found within fried foods, sugary drinks, alcohol, painkillers, canned foods, plastic containers, antibiotics and chemical laden water (such as tap water).
Smoking and pollution also have anti-nutrient effects upon the body.
Exposure to excessive amounts of anti-nutrients can over burden the body's detoxification pathways and create a build up and eventual overload of toxins. When toxins cannot be removed from the body they often end up in fat cells. By serving as as a toxic waste site for harmful substances fat cells protect you.
Believe it or not, hundreds of cancer causing, endocrine disrupting and allergy inducing substances get stored in our fat cells, including environmental chemicals such as Bisphenol A, Benzophoenone-3 and flame retardants!
Reducing the number of anti-nutrients eaten can reduce the toxic build up in your body.
C.R.A.A.P is an abbreviation for Carbonated drinks, Refined grains and sugar, Artificial colors/flavorings, Adulterated fats, and Processed foods.
These foods are certainly not banned from your diet, you can consume them, but should do so in moderation if you want to improve your health, slim down and satisfy your appetite.
- Carbonated drinks; these beverages contain sugar or high fructose corn syrup which can steal nutrients from the body and can dysregulate blood glucose in insulin resistant resistant individuals. The result in susceptible persons is fatigue and weight gain. When consumed in excess, fructose is processed as a toxin by the liver and can readily convert into body fat.
- Refined grains and sugar; white flour products such as pastries, bread, cookies, cakes and cereals also use up nutrients being digested and provide little satiety and nutritional value.
- Artificial colors and flavorings; these anti-nutrients can be found in all kinds of snack foods, including sweets, crisps, soft drinks, salad dressings, ice cream, cake mixes, BBQ sauce, margarines and cereals.
- Adulterated fats; Margarine, fake butter like spreads and rancid vegetable oils are some of the most unhealthy things you can eat. Avoid hydrogenated fats, man made trans fats, fried oils and rancid vegetable oils at all costs. Trans and hydrogenated fats are the only true bad food - try to avoid these as much as possible.
- Processed foods; all of the previously listed foods could actually fall into this category, others include savory snacks, deli meat products, microwave meals, fake cheeses and party foods.
Despite having just 1 ingredient, real foods are packed full of the nutrients your body requires to function and thrive upon.
Meat, fish, poultry, eggs, vegetables, dairy, legumes, whole-grains, fruits, nuts and seeds provide a wealth of nutrition and because they are harder to overeat than highly palatable junk foods, can reduce risk of weight gain. Check out this post for more information regarding a real food diet.
Here are 4 quick tips to help you eliminate anti-nutrient C.R.A.A.P from your diet;
- Replace fizzy drinks with water. Start the transition by swapping carbonated drinks to sparkling water, such as Perrier or San Pellegrino, diluting fruit juices with water or creating fruity flavored water by using lemons and limes,
- Eat more vegetables and swap refined grain products such as white bread, white rice, pasta for wholemeal versions.
- Eat a piece of fruit or some yoghurt with berries as desert instead of cakes, puddings and pies. If milk chocolate is your vice try converting to dark chocolate which, due to its high percentage of cocoa, provides an rich source of antioxidants. Ideally aim for a cocoa percentage 85 or higher!
- Swap man-made fats like margarine for real butter or virgin olive oil.
At the end of the day there is no such thigh as a one-size-fits-all diet for optimal health - we are all far too unique for such an approach to work.
Having said that, making some simple and sensible dietary choices to ensure you eat real foods MOST OF THE TIME and eat less CRAAP will serve your health and body weight very well!
If you have any questions feel free to reach out to me.
Enjoy your day!