Ting Ding Ting Ding Ting!!! Congratulations, you are 35 years old. Before you knew, signs of ageing have begun to appear. Even though you think it was overnight, rest assured, they were not. All the extra pounds you promised yourself about losing? Congratulations, you are no where near your “Target Number”. Reaching a certain age does make you feel like a big chunk of your life has slipped away and you don’t really fathom how or why! While those changes cannot be reversed or un-done overnight, there isn’t a better time to start focussing on better health.
By better health, i don’t mean a leaner body, a non-ageing body. Weight loss and other such factors take a while. But by overall healthy I mean a body that is able to repel diseases. A body that is able to slow down ageing, or degradation and worsening of body’s organs. By better health, i mean the ability of the body to go on in a state of health for as long as possible.
For those reasons, I chucked out 5 types of food categories that were causing more harm than good to me. It showed a visible effect on my body and my overall health, and trust me, they aren’t very difficult to chuck out of your life either.
1. Low fat food
Almost everyone I know is struggling with weight. Someone wants to gain, someone wants to lose, someone wants to build muscle. It is ongoing, tedious and the ‘struggle is real’. Very conveniently, we have blamed the fats as the reason for a person to be on the wrong side of weight. While that is partially true, and we will not get into the technicalities of that, we often end up choosing “low fat” products. Low fat yogurt, low fat snacks, low fat ready made food items, even low fat OIL!
So it must take just an ounce of common sense to understand what benefit would a low fat oil or butter would do, when they are actually fat themselves!
Low fat snacks are something you can sometimes consider, but snacking on namkeens and other such things should anyways be avoided, so that goes out of the window almost promptly.
Things like low fat yogurt, low fat oils and butter, can end up doing more harm to our body than good. The process of making these foods is to chemically or industrially, removing a certain amount of fat from them. This also essentially means that a lot of nutritive value is lost in the removal of fats.
What to have instead?
Instead of consuming food which is a “low fat” version of a high fat food, have food which is naturally low in fat. Items that naturally have high content are mixed with chemicals, and made to undergo processes that kill their entire nutritive value, only to earn the low fat label. With foods that are naturally low fat, the nutritive value of the food stays intact.
2. Frozen food
In India we are hit by the epidemic of frozen foods. From frozen raw vegetables and raw meat, to ready to fry or semi-cooked food items that just need to be fried before being served. We have all indulged in that guilty pleasure. In order to keep food fresh for a long time, companies add preservatives and sodium in heavy quantities to these foods before freezing them. High sodium is no ones friend and that is a well established fact.
What to have instead?
Some food items like peas are frozen after the process of blanching. Those are ok to consume. But you would need to refer to their packaging to understand what exactly is that you are serving to your little ones and your family. You can also use items frozen by you at home for preservation purposes. Ideally, you should ditch all kinds of frozen food and stick to fresh cut meats, freshly prepared snacks, and vegetables straight out of the farm.
3. Artificially Sweetened/Sugar Free Food
Sugar is an enemy. That is a well established fact. But that does not mean that artificial, low calorie sweeteners are your friend. No sir! Your diet cokes, your sugar-free chocolates, your Stevia and sugar free supplements are harming your metabolic system.
Take this small experiment: Go off sugar for about a whole month. Which means, no biscuits, or any bakery goods, no ketchup or ready made sauces, no jams and jellies, no namkeen or ready made snacks and definitely no packaged drinks – even the salted ones. After the entire month, take one bit of your favorite biscuit. These items are so shockingly sweet that once you go off sugar, it actually shocks your taste buds and makes you want to spit it all out.
That’s the amount of sugar we are being fed on an everyday basis.
Being off sugar and artificail sweeteners cuts down a big chunk of calories we consume everyday, increases metabolic rate, gives you gorgeous and flawless skin (really!!), and makes you feel less anxious and stressed out.
What to have instead?
Prefer having food that is not sweetened at all. It is a drastic, big move, given how we are fed sugar on a everyday basis. But it is quite possible to go off sugar and off sweeteners completely. You may need to give up your cola and “sweet tooth” habits, and replace them with foods with natural sugars – like fruits.
The easy solution to distress seems like a tall glass of wine, filled up to the brim. Or the last few millilitres of your vodka bottle, or just a casual catching up with friends over a beer. We are a lot more fond of our booze than we like to admit. Booze messes up tremendously with your ability to think, act, and continue everyday body processes. It slows down digestion, hampers the absorption of nutrients and affects various organs. It is a toxic substance that takes days to cleanse out of our system. So the hangover and other effects you see, may seem to go away in a day, but the damage that booze causes to your internal systems gets irreparable over time.
A very interesting fact is that booze does not help you with negative or angry thoughts – it aggravates them. Especially for people with a tendency towards depression, booze is the last thing that you should be having. It worsens physical symptoms of depression, further slows down body reactions and movements, worsens fuzzy or cloudy thoughts, keeping you in the dull phase for a lot longer than you want to be.
What to have instead?
While the intoxication of booze cannot be induced by any other item, it is actually worth considering to chuck out the booze component from your lives, completely! One occasional drink may not cause as much harm, but if you listen to those promos of “one cup wine a day” or “one beer everyday” is beneficial for your health, your health is going to suffer tremendously. One or two drinks in a month’s time is fair enough. The only fluid your body really needs is water. So just consume water, even chilled water, or fruit infused water if you want to ‘have something’ in your parties. It will work as a great conversation starter too! *wink*
5. Processed food
So I kept the biggest devil for the end. Processed food is something we eat everyday. But what does processed food mean? It means that naturally occurring ingredients are merged and made in to food, or one kind of food is transformed into another kind of food. This is an industrial process mostly, where a lot of preservatives, unhealthy additives like salt (sodium) and sugar are added to food items. Cheese, snacks and biscuits, sauces and dips, ready made food items, pretty much everything that is not made from natural ingredients without much process is actually processed food. A lot of food is processed to increase the shelf life of foods too. For eg. Frozen meat is not processed food, but a salami or a sausage is! Cottage cheese is not processed food, but cheese slices are.
What to have instead?
Rule of the thumb:
- If it is packaged food – avoid it as much as you can
- If your grandmother does not recognize the product – avoid it as much as you can (well, be selective here. She may not recognize a dragon fruit but you know you can have some of that)
- If a packed product taste exactly the same all the time- avoid as much as you can.
For examples if you buy a pack of frozen smiles, and fry and eat them, they will always have the same taste. Can you take a bunch of potatoes and expect them all to taste exactly the same every single time? Even though you make your tea with almost same quantity of ingredients everyday, does your tea always taste exactly the same? NO!
That’s a marker for you to understand that this is processed food. It’s nutritive value and tastes have been altered tremendously and you should not be having them. If it changes taste from piece to piece, or from season to season, you could consider it. For example – an apple or a banana – they are different levels of ripe and different levels of sweet every single time!
I’d like to mention here that I am not an expert. I have shared the above from some advice i heard from experts, some experience that I had on my own, and pretty much entirely saw the benefit of stopping consumption of the above mentioned foods.
What Will Happen when we reduce of stop consuming these foods?
I expect the following things to happen to your body when you stop the consumption of these foods, pretty much based on what happened to me when this happened:
- Feel more active
- Weight loss efforts yielded better results
- Lesser tendency of falling Ill
- Lesser gut problems like smelly gas, constipation or Irregular bowel movements
- Natural detox systems of your body seem to work
- Fuzzy thoughts, cloudy thoughts occur less
- Depressive episodes occur less
- Skin becomes a lot more clearer
- Lesser chest burn and gastric problems
- ageing of the skin and bones slows down
- You feel more active and energetic
- Better self control on food and edible choice.
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Have you ever considered quitting these things? What seems like your weak point in these 5?? I had a hard time quitting Banana chips!!!!
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This blog is a part of the blog Train Named Get Fit, Stay Fit. I would love to thank Prerna for introducing me in her blog. You can read her entry for the blog train here. Next up in this chain is Rohan who likes to writes a lot of fun fiction stories on his blog. You can read his entry for the blog chain here.
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I am participating in the ‘Get Fit, Stay Fit’ blog party with Bon Happetee!
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