It’s not easy to have the perfect diet all the time. Some people are better than others at eating their greens, cooking all their food from scratch and generally being superhealthy, but everyone falls off the wagon from time to time. Whenever that happens what are the five worst things you can eat? What should you avoid at all costs, even if you’re having a bad day?
Trans fats or “partially hydrogenated oils” are artificial fats manufactured using an industrial process. They are used in restaurants and fast-food outlets because they’re cheap and can be reused many times over. They could also be found in certain doughnuts, pastries, pie crusts, biscuits, pizza dough, cookies, crackers, and stick margarines and shortenings. They’ve been associated with all sorts of health issues, from heart disease to type 2 diabetes and have even been banned in Denmark and Switzerland. By all accounts trans fats are nasty critters and should be avoided altogether.
The war on fat has been replaced by a raging war on sugar. Dr Robert Lustig is leading the charge for the prosecution with his books and talks on what he calls ‘poison‘. Lustig says ‘fructose can fry your liver and cause all the same diseases as alcohol’. The battle is made all the more complicated by the big food companies who are resisting attempts by governments and the World Health Organisation to slash the recommended daily limits on sugar intake. Sugar is now being seen as the main culprit behind the international obesity epidemic.
Highly processed and relatively low in nutrients, white flour is the antithesis of the paleo and clean eating concepts. It’s easy to overeat on the bagels, muffins, doughnuts and biscuits produced with white flour and they contain few nutrients bar the calories. Eat wholegrain carbs like brown rice and quinoa or nutrient rich vegetables instead.
Aspartame is an artificial sweetener used as a sugar substitute in some foods and beverages, including sugar free chewing gum and diet drinks. According to Dr. Mercola, of the popular health website mercola.com ‘aspartame is by far the most dangerous substance added to most foods today’. According to the same article aspartame accounts for over 75 percent of the adverse reactions to food additives reported to the FDA, including a wide range of symptoms from headaches to seizures. Because its breakdown products include phenylalanine, aspartame must be avoided by people with the genetic condition phenylketonuria (PKU), however it’s probably best avoided by everyone.
Cigarettes need no introduction, they’ve been public enemy number one since the full health repercussions of smoking were revealed in the Sixties. Sure, you can’t eat them, but this list wouldn’t be complete without cigarettes. Smoking causes 6,500 deaths in Ireland every year, everything else on the list pales in comparison. The good news is that smoking in Ireland has declined by 7.5% since 2007.