Okay, this title is very anti- my usual philosophy. I'm a HUGE believer in the idea of ADDING foods into your diet before ever even considering subtracting something.
Just let healthy foods squish out all of those foods you'd rather not eat as much.
If you remove foods first, like sugar, then you're left with all of these big, sweet holes in your diet that desperately want to be filled. And eventually, they're usually filled with exactly the same foods that filled them before.
Adding is a much nicer journey :).
But, I'm regularly asked; "Once I've added some nice, beautiful, healthy whole foods into my diet, which foods should I squish out first?". This is a great question, and here are my recommendations:
1. Sugary Drinks (including pasteurized juices)
Our body metabolizes sugar differently when it comes in a liquid form vs solid food.
When we eat a sugary food, the sugar is mixed with complex carbohydrates (grains) and usually with some fat and protein (eggs, butter, etc), which slows its entry into our bloodstream. When we drink sugar (sugary coffee, pop, juice, etc), the sugar isn't buffered by fibre, fat, or protein and it enters the bloodstream much more quickly, causing a blood sugar spike (and weight gain).
As well, since drinks don't need to be chewed or broken down by the digestive system, your body doesn't recognize these calories as food intake, leaving you hungry.
Drinks that contain high fructose corn syrup (pop, sports drinks, sweetened juices) can cause even more damage, including fatty liver disease and will help you gain weight even faster!
Artificially sweetened drinks aren't any better, research has found that artificial sweeteners may set the stage for insulin resistance and Type II Diabetes (read more about that here). Perhaps have a glass of water and an apple or an orange instead of juice to satisfy that sweet craving?
2. Processed Fats (including "healthy" margarine)
We know that trans fat is "bad" fat...but what about the trans-fat free margarines? Those are better than saturated fat...right?
Fat doesn't enjoy being processed, and it takes a lot of processing to turn a mono- or polyunsaturated fat (liquid at room temperature) into a solid-at-room-temperature fat. Plus, they tend to use very cheap oils in these products; like canola, cottonseed, sunflower, and safflower oils. These oils are frequently pro-inflammatory and can exacerbate a whole host of inflammatory conditions; like arthritis, asthma, acne, etc.
Look to remove all highly processed fats and oils from your diet and replace them with less processed fats like butter and olive oil. Your body with thank you!
3. Non-Organic Corn, Soy, and Canola in all forms (food and oil)
Corn, soy, and canola are the most common crops to have been genetically modified (GMO) in our diet. There are others, but these are by far the most prevalent.
Due to our current labelling laws, buying organic or labeled "Non-GMO Project certified" is the only way to guarantee you're buying non-GMO versions of these products.
Why is this important? Well, in general, we don't know how GMOs affect our body. Animal studies have found that GMO soy may lead to infertility, but for the most part these food products have not been studied for their safety. Until they're tested and we know exactly how they affect the body, keep GMOs out of your diet! You'll thank me if/when GMOs are proven to be harmful.
4. Factory-farmed meat and farmed salmon
I'm an animal lover and I'm a passionate believer in supporting ethical farming practices. The industry of factory farming is an ethical nightmare for the animals and it also affects our health.
For cows to survive in this over-crowed environment, they must be fed antibiotics. Those antibiotics can leave an antibiotic residue in the meat, so we're ingesting antibiotics every time we consume this meat.
Research as found that ingesting low amounts of antibiotics regularly (the amount you'd get in a serving of meat) affects the body like a round of prescription antibiotics.
Antibiotics are also given to the cows to help fatten them up, and research is finding that they might be fattening us up too! Low levels of bacteria in our gut = a lowered metabolism. Farmed salmon, shrimp, and tilapia also have antibiotic residue.
As well, we are what we eat eats. What this means is the diet of the animals we consume matters. The high grain/corn diet on factory farms = a fat cow, but also an inflamed one, high in inflammatory fats.
On the flip side, grass-fed/finished cows, who are fed their preferred diet their entire lives, are high in anti-inflammatory omega 3s and slimming fats like CLA (Conjegated linoleic acid). A much happier choice for both the cows and our body :)
I hope this list gives you a few ideas and a place to start. If it caused any stress, I'm sorry. That wasn't my intention. If you're feeling stressed, I encourage you to step back and focus on just adding healthy foods to your diet. Do that first and ignore everything in this article for now :)