What constitutes a healthy diet has become a controversial topic these days, with many differing opinions on which foods best support human health.
Some claim that we are meant to be eating what our paleolithic forebears ate, that being a more hunter-fisher-gatherer type of diet.
Others believe we will experience lasting health by eschewing the meat, and munching solely on plants.
Still others claim our health suffers because we eat cooked foods, and are destroying important enzymes in the cooking process.
Sometimes the best place to start is armed with a list of foods that pretty much all agree should either be avoided, or greatly minimized.
Becoming familiar with the foods that are at best, minimally nutritious, and at worst, harmful to health can help you make the best choices possible, no matter the circumstances.
In this article, I have outlined which foods are not part of a healthy diet, plus I share some signs of health improvement.
During our affordable health coaching sessions with clients, I always prefer to emphasize what to include in their diet, versus just focusing on what to exclude. It's mentally more encouraging to focus on the abundance of choices, versus the restrictions.
However, for the purposes of better understanding what constitutes a healthy diet, I will start with a list of foods that pretty much everybody agrees are best avoided, or greatly minimized.
In fact, if the bulk of the population that is overweight and sick would eliminate the foods on the following list, I believe a good majority would begin to experience weight loss, and better health.
Hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated oils or trans fats
These fats have a hydrogen atom added chemically to allow a vegetable oil that is naturally liquid at room temperature to become solid, and therefore more shelf stable. You can often read this on the label as "hydrogenated" or "partially hydrogenated" palm, cottonseed, or corn oil. These fats are a synthetic alteration that the body is not designed to utilize, and can cause a host of problems. Anything that is synthetically altered should be strictly avoided, and is not part of a healthy diet.
Commercially Refined, Polyunsaturated Plant & Seed Oils
We generally recommend avoiding all commercial and refined plant and seed oils, with very few exceptions. Examples of these oils include: corn oil, soy oil, sesame seed oil, sunflower oil, canola oil, and other commercial oil blends.
These oils have a high ration of pro-inflammatory fatty acids, and were never fit for human consumption. Small amounts of a toasted sesame oil may be included in sauces and marinades for flavoring.
Better choices include unrefined coconut oil, MCT oil, single source extra virgin olive oil, avocado oil, macadamia nut oil, pecan oil, or other similar choices, along with good quality animal fats, such as a good quality lard, beef tallow, duck fat, butter, and ghee.
Highly synthetic sweeteners and refined sugars
High fructose corn syrup, and synthetic or 'fake' sugars, such as saccharin, aspartame, acesulfame, neotame, and sucralose. Some of these sweeteners go by the brand name of 'Equal' or 'Sweet and Low.' Synthetic modified food substances are lower in calories, but they are intensely sweet. They are used in diet sodas, gum, mints, and many other products.
Better alternatives include raw local honey, and locally procured tree syrups can be used in modest amounts, along with Swerve, Xlya (both brand names to more natural sweeteners), stevia, monk fruit, or other 'natural sweeteners' that are becoming more widely available. These should still be used judiciously.
Agave syrup is mostly fructose, which should also be avoided. Excess fructose consumption, including from fruits should be kept to very modest amounts for most people.
The Dry Crunchies
Most snack foods are dry and crunchy, which is not well tolerated by our digestive systems. Couple the dryness with the combo of ingredients found in these foods, and you have a disaster on your hands. They are usually made with refined flours, oils, and sweeteners or excess sodium. They are lab-tested to ensure you keep coming back for more as well! They are drying, causing you to drink above and beyond what you may ideally assimilate of liquids as well. I personally don't care what the label may say ~ whether it contains whole grains, fiber, special magical seeds, or other super foods, we do not consider the dry crunches part of a healthy diet.
Refined Grains and Flour Products
Consuming lots of refined pastas, cookies, breads, muffins, and other pastries do not constitute healthy eating, despite what the food pyramid that began in the 1970s encouraged. Refined grains are devoid of any kind of real nutritional value, and worse, they spike insulin when consumed, a fat storing hormone. It is now believed that the excess consumption of refined grains and oils are the underlying cause of inflammation, and many modern diseases.
Packaged Processed Foods
The bulk of foods found in the center aisles of grocery stores would not be best minimized, as the majority do not constitute healthy eating, however there are exceptions, especially with respect to stocking foods for emergency situations. Canned meats, tomatoes and tomato sauces, sardines, mackerel, tuna, olives, and select condiments can be included in a healthy diet.
Ingredients that are not part of healthy eating include any dyes, chemicals, and genetically modified foods. Gluten is also a problem for many people. Soy oils, fillers, preservatives and any other ingredient you do not recognize as a food!
A growing body of evidence indicates that it is hyperinsulinemia, and insulin resistance that is at the root of the majority of modern diseases, including hypertension, high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, diabetes, psoriasis, and more.
The human body is simply not adapted to eating the quantities of carbohydrate-rich foods that most people now regularly consume.
A low-carbohydrate diet has long been considered most supportive of achieving optimal health and ideal body weight.
Eating the right, nutrient-dense, healthy foods will help you to build lean muscle, which in turn helps you to maintain healthy bones, and your ideal weight as you age.
A healthy diet should be enjoyable. Foods that are good for us will help us feel satisfied, digest and assimilate well, and bring about a feeling of mental and physical well-being.
Too many of us rely on scientific data, blood tests, and the words of 'experts' while ignoring our own biofeedback systems, and direct experience. We need to Trust Ourselves, and our body's cravings ~ providing we have achieved a base line of health, and can distinguish between instinctual versus addictive cravings.
To get a taste of learning how to eat more intuitively, imagine for a moment setting aside all nutritional and moral ideologies, then ask yourself the following question:
Which foods among those provided by nature ~ that are easy to obtain or prepare with minimal technology ~ are most attractive to you?
Download our FREE copy of The Hypercarnivore 30-Day Health Challenge e-book, or read more in The Hypercarnivore Diet, by Don Matesz, or The Trust Your True Nature (TYTN) Low-Carb Lifestyle.
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