FOOD: The Good, The Bad, And The Better.
People often ask me about their food.
“Is ABC good for me??” or, “Is XYZ bad for me??” they’ll inquire.
My answers are not always so cut and dry.
Some foods aren’t really that GOOD for you….but they’re certainly BETTER than some other alternatives.
Some foods are not exactly BAD for you - they’re just not as GOOD as they could be.
And then there are foods that are unequivocal ROCK STARS - and other foods that, in my opinion, should never, ever, ever pass your lips!
Today I’m going to tackle the top three situations that I am asked about - and share my thoughts on how to make the distinctions between Good, Bad, and Better.
Let’s dive in.
“I stopped drinking regular soda and now I only drink diet. That’s better for me, right?”
Well…..not exactly. You have essentially traded one set of problems for another. Neither beverage could ever be considered ‘good’ for you - and it’s really debatable which one could be considered ‘better’ than the other.
Regular soda is high in calories, loaded with sugar and high fructose corn syrup (booooo) and offers ZERO nutritional benefits to your body. It’s basically just a GREAT way to gain weight and mess up your body chemistry. Truly.
Diet soda is low in calories and doesn’t contain sugar or corn syrup - so there’s that ‘advantage’ over the regular version - BUT……and this is a huge, enormous, not-to-be-ignored BUT…..it is a chemical soup. Utterly fake. G-g-g-garbage. It’s sweetened with artificial sweeteners which, though calorie-free, still raise your blood sugar and trigger the ‘sweet’ response in your brain, making you want MORE.
Soooooo, it may not add any calories to your diet, but it’s still not providing anything of value, and it’s still messing up your body chemistry. Blegh.
VERDICT: Bad for you. Always.
P.S. The ‘natural’ sodas that you find in health food stores are, sadly, not much better for you. They may be sweetened with agave or stevia, but they add empty calories and don’t provide much else. My advice? Drink them sparingly - as a treat, when you’re out and about - but, otherwise, just stick with water.
I always have skim milk or low-fat milk instead of whole milk. That’s good for me, right?
This is kind of a trick question for me because, as you may already know, I don’t believe that ANY milk is good for ANYone. Gasp! Blasphemous, I know!
There are mountains and mountains of evidence to show that dairy is not the dietary rock star all those cute milk-moustache ads would have you believe.
THAT SAID……believe it or not but, if you have the choice between skim, 2%, or whole milk, I would begrudgingly advocate that you choose the whole milk (after I begged you to switch to almond milk or rice milk and completely ditch the dairy).
Here’s why: Skim milk and 2% milk are highly, highly processed. It doesn’t just come out of the cow and into your carton - ta da. First it gets pasteurized, and then it gets further processed to remove or ‘skim’ the fat.
Now, in some respects, that is a good thing (because dairy products are obscenely high in fat and cholesterol) - BUT it means that all you are really left with is the sugar and some animal protein.
It’s kind of just…..sugary, animal water. Sorry. It’s true.
You’re better off with a teeny portion of full-fat milk that’s lower in sugar and, technically, closer to a whole food. The next time you’re at the store, compare the sugar content of whole milk versus skim. The skim will be much higher.
I don’t believe that ANY milk is actually GOOD for you, but I would hold my nose and say that whole milk, in very small portions, is slightly better for you than skim or 2%.
VERDICT: Whole milk is better (in seriously small portions, if I can’t convince you to ditch it entirely).
P.S. Yes - you’ve heard almost everyone say that low-fat dairy products are the way to go, which is the exact opposite of what I have just said. If you drink low-fat milk, you’ll take in more sugar, but less fat. If you drink whole milk, you’ll take in more fat, but less sugar. Both options STINK - which is why I’d love for you to switch to a plant-based milk (almond milk, rice milk) - which are both low in sugar AND fat. No need to choose between the lesser of two evils!
“I’m trying to lose weight, so I’m avoiding carbs. Carbs are bad for me, right?”
Carbs are not bad for you.
Carbohydrates are one of the 3 essential macronutrients (protein and fat being the other two) and, if you don’t eat carbohydrates, you will discover that you will eventually drop dead.
You. Must. Eat. Carbs.
All carbs are not created equal. What you must seek to avoid if you are trying to lose weight - or if you would just like to live a long, healthy, disease-free life - are the Garbage Carbs or, as I like to call them…..
New word alert!!
Garbs are the carbohydrates found in white sugar, white flour, most cereals, most wraps, JUICE, fluffy breads, cookies, muffins, cakes, most pretzels, all pasta that isn’t whole grain, white rice, high fructose corn syrup, and soda.
To name a few.
Garbs are responsible for making you fat, making you feel sluggish and doughy, raising your blood sugar, and increasing the inflammation in your body which will, in turn, lay the groundwork for all manner of disease.
GARBS are bad for you.
CARBS, on the other hand - more specifically, complex carbohydrates - are necessary and very, very good for you. They give you energy, they stabilize your blood sugar, and they help reduce inflammation. And, because many complex carbs are also high in fiber, they can help you lose weight.
Examples of healthy carbs include whole fruit, whole vegetables (all kinds), whole grains, beans and other legumes, and nuts and seeds.
Check this out -
Which makes more common sense to you about carbohydrates:
A) She gained a ton of weight because she ate too many donuts, white pasta, and gummy worms.
B) She gained a ton of weight because she ate too many apples, brown rice, and garbanzo beans.
VERDICT: Carbs are not bad for you - they can be quite GOOD.
Garbs, on the other hand, are BAD.
In closing, here’s a quick set of criteria to determine whether something is good, better, or downright bad for you -
GOOD for you: It’s a whole food, meaning it looks pretty much exactly how it looked coming out of the ground or off a tree. It’s recognizable. It doesn’t have any added breading, oils, cheese, or sugar. In other words, vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds.
BETTER for you: It’s not entirely whole, and it may have added oil and sugar……but it does not contain any of the items on the bad-for-you list below.
BAD for you: It contains ANY (even one) of the following: high fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated oils, cholesterol, trans fats, lard - or mostly ‘chemical’ ingredients that sound like they belong in a science lab.