Right about now, you’re probably digging into those Christmas cookies you just baked for your kids’ teachers, and tonight is the office holiday party where you’ll indulge in shrimp cocktail, pigs in a blanket, and bottomless glasses of eggnog. It’s ok. This time of the year is traditionally terrible for our health as we enjoy the company of friends and family and the word “overindulgence” is a dirty word that we blissfully ignore.
As we begin our rapid descent into thicker waistlines and higher cholesterol, it might be smart to know what foods we should try to avoid when the time comes to pump the brakes on excess and gluttony. Below are the worst foods and drinks that you can consume. It might be smart to cross these off your shopping lists once the new year rolls around.
9. Canned vegetables and fruit
I know, they’re fruits and vegetables, so how bad can they be? The canned version of these otherwise healthy foods often lack the fiber of their fresher counterparts, and they are often sitting in a sodium bath (in the form of preservatives), so the downside of eating them outweighs any positives they might be hiding in the form of a vitamin or two. You might need these for your green bean casserole or ambrosia, but you should probably avoid both of those dishes for at least a little while. Stick to frozen veggies and fruits if it’s hard to keep fresh ones from going bad. They’re picked and frozen at their peak, and maintain all of their vitamins and minerals. Plus, there’s no sodium to be found.
This shouldn’t come as any surprise, but it’s worth noting that soda (especially the diet kind) is simply terrible for our health. The sugars, sugar substitutes, and artificial dyes in these drinks are enough to make anyone seriously unfit, but they have also been shown to cause cancer. If you’re thirsty, drink water. If you need caffeine, opt for coffee or tea. There is seriously nothing good about downing a can of soda.
7. Bleached flour (a.k.a. white) bread
Breads made with white flour have not only been stripped of all of their nutrients, but they might even contain remnants of the chemical used in the bleaching process. Our obsession with white foods (sugar, I’m looking at you) is totally odd and unfounded. The natural, unbleached version tastes the same (if not better) and is far more nutritious.
6. Fruit juice
This goes for both adults and kids. The problem with fruit juice is that it’s incredibly high in sugar. As it is, our country has a big problem with instances of Type 2 diabetes, and fruit juice is not innocent. Furthermore, fruit juices lack the wonderful fiber that whole fruits offer. So, as with the soda above, if you’re thirsty, drink water. But if you want something “healthy” and think that fruit juice is going to offer you nutrition, think again. You’re far better off eating a piece of fruit than drinking it in juice form.
We’ve been conditioned to believe that all fish is good for us, but it’s simply not true. Many fish are high in omega-3 fatty acids (a.k.a. good fat), but swordfish has an issue that should make you run the other way. It is extremely high in mercury, which is a neurotoxin. It’s not good for any of us to consume high levels of it, but children and pregnant women should absolutely steer clear. Stick to salmon, halibut, and white flaky fish when possible.
4. Ice cream
Why must everything that tastes so good be so bad for us? Our beloved creamy, fulfilling ice cream is extremely high in sugar and fat. And since milk is an animal protein, it’s also high in cholesterol. Sure, you can opt for some yogurt or a vegan dessert, but they’re not the same.
3. Coffee drinks
You might think nothing of ordering that frothy coffee drink topped with whipped cream and a flavored syrup, but you might want to reconsider your options when you’re at the coffee counter. There is nothing wrong with ordering a regular cup of coffee (and you can even toss in a little half and half if you need it), but the calories add up very quickly when it comes to those fancy $7 coffee beverages. They taste so good because of all the added sugar and fat. You’ll get an immediate boost from a huge sugar rush, and then you’ll crash hard. Then you need another high-calorie coffee drink to feel better.
2. Processed meat
Bacon, sausage, and even cold cuts: they’re oh-so-yummy, but they’re just awful for your health. They contain high levels of unsaturated fat and sodium. And if you can look past those two things that are guaranteed to make your blood pressure and cholesterol skyrocket, then you might want to consider all the nitrates in these delicious foods. They can turn into carcinogens when cooked. Yuck.
1. Fried food
A guaranteed way to add inches to your waist is to indulge in fried food. High in calories, fat, saturated fat, and carcinogens (yup, in those beloved french fries), there is nothing good about this. Except for their scrumptious flavor, obviously.