If you try to eat a healthy diet, you’ve probably heard that depriving yourself of certain foods entirely isn’t the best idea. That level of restriction could easily lead to going overboard and binging — and besides, it’s no way to live. Your best bet is to eat healthy foods as often as you can while allowing yourself a treat now and then.
That being said, there are definitely some foods that simply have no place in the modern diet. While there’s nothing wrong with the occasional unhealthy splurge, there are some foods that are better off being banned from your kitchen entirely.
1. Soy milk
Soy milk | HandmadePictures/Getty Images
Some vegans and those who are dairy-free see soy milk as a healthy alternative to cow’s milk. But soy is extremely high in phytoestrogens, which are plant compounds that look like estrogen to the body. While it’s unclear whether it actually disrupts your hormones in small amounts, it’s best not to risk it. Most soy is also genetically modified, which may pose a threat to your health. There are plenty of other alternative milks, like almond and hemp, to drink instead.
Next: You might think this is a healthy alternative to an egg, but it’s not.
2. Egg Beaters
Scrambled eggs on toast | iStock/Getty Images
As Dana James CDN, a nutritionist from Food Coach NYC, says, “This is as far removed from a natural egg as you can get.” Egg Beaters are processed so much, synthetic vitamins have to be added. Stick to the real thing instead.
Next: Here’s another instance where you’re better off sticking to the real thing.
3. Fruit juice
Cherry juice | lisaaMC/Getty Images
Fruit juice is loaded with sugar — even one glass of pure orange juice often has as much fructose as four oranges. Our bodies aren’t designed to deal with that much fructose overload.
Next: This food is convenient, but it’s very unhealthy.
4. Microwave popcorn
Buttered popcorn | iStock.com/itakdalee
Tossing a bag of popcorn into the microwave might get you a hot snack in minutes, but it’s terrible for your health. The artificial butter flavoring is toxic and may even cause brain damage when eaten in large amounts, and the lung inflammation known as “popcorn lung” is dangerous and irreversible.
Next: Let’s put this myth to rest once and for all.
Margarine on a butter knife | iStock.com/gemredding
For decades, margarine has been marketed as a “healthy” alternative to butter. But the vast majority of margarines are made from trans fats, which are terrible for your health and can even be deadly. You’re much better off sticking to real butter.
Next: Replace these kitchen staples at once.
6. Vegetable oils
Olive oil | Freila/iStock/Getty Images
Vegetable oils like canola oil are commonly used in cooking, but they’re highly inflammatory and almost always genetically modified. According to radio show host Dr. Josh Axe, founder of Ancient Nutrition and DrAxe.com, they have been linked to:
- Birth defects
- Bone and tendon problems
- Digestive disorders
- Heart disease
- Immune system impairment
- High cholesterol
- Learning disabilities
- Liver problems
- Sexual dysfunction
Dr. Axe recommends using olive oil and coconut oil instead.
Next: There is a debate about whether or not this sweetener is healthy.
7. Agave nectar
Agave nectar | Bhofack2/iStock/Getty Images
Agave nectar is often used as a healthy alternative to sugar, but it might actually be worse for your health than table sugar. Because it is derived from a plant that has been used for thousands of years, people assume the best about agave. But it has a high fructose content, which puts stress on your liver.
Next: You could have a can of pesticides sitting in your pantry.
8. Canned green beans
Green beans in a bowl | JB325/iStock/Getty Images
According to Dr. Axe, canned green beans are consistently contaminated with dangerous pesticides. To make matters worse, most cans are full of the dangerous chemical BPA, which can leak into your food. Try some fresh green beans instead.
Next: In this case, “diet” doesn’t mean a thing.
9. Soda (yes, even diet)
Pepsi, Coca-Cola, and Fanta | Radu Bercan/iStock/Getty Images
Regular soda usually contains high fructose corn syrup. Diet soda is full of aspartame. Both are terrible for you. Most sodas contain phosphorus, which binds to calcium and increases calcium loss, which is terrible for bone health. If you don’t keep soda in your home, it’s easier to stop drinking it entirely.
Next: These foods have actually been linked to an early death.
10. Processed meats
Deli meat turkey sandwich | Rez-art/iStock/Getty Image
The sooner you say goodbye to your bacon, hot dogs, and deli meats, the better. Processed meats are associated with an increased risk of cancer, and they’re not doing your waistline any favors, either. Replace them with lean cuts of nitrate-free meat, and eat that in moderation.
Next: These may be convenient, but they’re terrible for your body.
11. Frozen dinners
Frozen meal | hillwoman2/iStock/Getty Images
While not all frozen food is created equal, most store-bought frozen dinners are loaded with preservatives and not enough calories to satisfy your hunger. If you take the time once or twice a week to prepare and freeze some meals yourself, you’ll save time and money in the long run, and you’ll know exactly what you’re eating.
Next: Just because this is delicious doesn’t mean you should keep it around.
Jar of Nutella | AlinLyre/iStock/Getty Images
At first glance, Nutella seems reasonably healthy — after all, it contains a nut. But according to Eat This, Not That, spreads like Nutella are primarily sugar and palm oil, with almost no actual nuts involved. Plus, it has over 20 grams of added sugar per serving, so it will add inches to your waistline fast.
Next: Make your sandwiches with something else.
13. White bread
White bread in a basket | iStock.com/SasaJo
Most people know white bread is detrimental to a healthy diet, but sometimes baguettes and bagels are hard to resist. But considering white bread has almost no nutritional value, it can wreak havoc on your blood sugar, and it can contribute to weight gain, it’s best to swap it out for multigrain bread or skip the bread basket at dinner entirely.
Next: Here are some ingredients to watch out for.
Always read labels
Reading a nutrition label | BrianAJackson/iStock.com/Getty Images
If this list seems complicated, just keep it simple by reading labels at the grocery store and avoiding certain ingredients. A few examples are:
- Hydrogenated oils
- High fructose corn syrup
- Sodium Benzoate or Potassium Benzoate
- Artificial coloring
- BHA and BHT
- Sodium chloride
- Canola oil
Most nutritionists say that if you can’t pronounce it, you shouldn’t eat it.
Next: Remember, there is such a thing as taking it too far.
Don’t worry about being perfect 100% of the time
Doctor giving a choice between an apple and a donut | iStock.com/CentralITAlliance
As a society, we’re bombarded by pressure to “eat clean” and eat a perfect diet. And the truth is, eating well is one of the best things you’ll ever do for your body. That being said, it’s both impossible and unrealistic to be perfect. Instead of setting yourself up for failure or letting your diet take over your life, stock your kitchen with healthy foods and don’t beat yourself up over enjoying an occasional treat — even if it’s something off this list.
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