My last entry talked about foods that help to increase the body’s ability to fight disease, which I term “protectors,” because they help your body protect itself against disease.
I like that topic since it focuses on the positive things that people can do with their eating habits. It helps people to understand the things that they should be eating MORE of, which is way more fun than keeping up with a list of foods that you’re “not allowed to have.”
However, we cannot overlook the things that we eat that do the opposite, and break down our body’s ability to protect us against disease. These foods are called “promoters” as research suggests they promote risk for disease.
Today’s article will focus on the foods that you want to eat only occasionally. Cookie Monster now sings it: “A cookie is a sometimes food”, instead of “cookie cookie cookie”! Maybe I should’ve named this article The Sometimes Foods List! : – )
What Nutrients Should We Eat Less Of?
Foods that fall under my “disease promoter” category are ones that are high in:
- saturated fat
- refined sugars
More importantly, these foods are usually LOW IN:
- fiber (necessary for good bowel health)
- phytochemicals (the foundation of a cancer fighting diet)
- vitamins & minerals (essential for good health!)
In other words, the “promoter foods” are foods that are not nutrient dense. They tend to be high in calorie and low in beneficial nutrients. Not the best combination!
Contrast that to a food that might be a source of saturated fat, but is also high in fiber and other beneficial nutrients – like avocados and nuts!
Also something to remember is that your body prefers nutrients in FOOD, not pill, or powder form. Sometimes you will find foods that have vitamins and minerals, and fiber on the nutrient facts label. However, when you look at the ingredient list, you find out that the nutrients were added to the food in powder form. We would prefer you get your nutrients in the food, as it was grown.
Foods to Eat Less of:
Here are some foods that fall under the “promoter category”:
- From the meat group: Processed meats (like bacon, sausage, processed deli meats), red meat (keep to 18oz a week or less)
- From the dairy group: Whole milk, cheese, ice cream, full fat yogurt, butter
- From the fruit group: canned fruit in heavy syrup or high sugar jelly’s
- From the vegetable group: canned vegetables with salt added, vegetables in cream sauce, french fries, potato chips
- From the carbohydrate/grain group: high fat muffins, bagels, pancakes, donuts, cookies, refined crackers, white bread, white rice, white pasta
- Sweetened drinks (soda, sweet tea or “juice/punch” drinks)
Before you get too upset, recognize that just because these foods fall under this category doesn’t mean that you NEVER get to eat them. However, you do need to keep your intake to a moderate level. When I think of having something occasionally, it would be 2 times per month or less.
If you are eating any of these foods 3 times a week or more, then it is considered a habit. Try to find replacements for the promoter foods that you are eating regularly. Here are some quick tips:
- Choose lean meats or vegetarian protein (beans, nuts, tofu).
- If you regularly consume milk, choose low fat.
- Have small portions of cheese.
- When appropriate, use monounsaturated oils instead of butter.
- Eat whole grains instead of refined grains.
- Choose fresh fruits and vegetables frequently.
- Avoid sugar sweetened drinks, except for special occasions.
When you do choose “promoter foods”, keep your portions small to minimize the impact. Once you swallow, the fun’s over. Enjoy each bite slowly. You don’t need to eat a large amount to fulfill a craving!
Actually, I find Cookie Monster really does do a good job of explaining things!!
Make smart choices and promote your health, not disease!