To Your Health: What Should We Really Be Eating?

In my last two articles, I’ve talked about weight loss and having a plan to keep the weight off once we lose it. What’s generally worked for me was counting calories. When I need to shed a few pounds, I try to reduce my caloric intake by 500 calories a day which can lead to weight loss over a period of time. This has been a successful plan for me for maintaining a desirable weight, but are the foods in my diet really good for my health in the long term?

I have always been conscious of trying to get my allotment of fruits and vegetables on a daily basis. I figured if I did this, my somewhat of a normal diet would be sufficient. While this may have worked for me in weight management, I’ve also discovered that there were things in my diet that not only had very little nutritional value, but could cause health issues if consumed regularly. Here’s a list of some of the worst and best things we eat.

I’m a popcorn lover. It’s been my go-to snack for years that kept me away from more fattening chips and peanut snacking. While only costing my calorie count about 100 calories, I figured there was little harm that could come from this innocent little grain of corn. This might be true if I were to pop my own corn and add a healthy oil and a sprinkle of salt. But I, like most others, choose the much easier microwave popcorn. After investigating, I learned it’s loaded with chemicals – from the ones lining the bag to keep the oil from leaking, to others that prevent the bag from catching fire. It’s also loaded with preservatives, salt, and trans fats. The “Healthy” in this snack must be removed unless we do our own popping. Sausages, which includes hot dogs, Slim Jims, bologna, and salami, are processed and are loaded with sodium and saturated fats. Frozen dinners are full of fat, calories, and sodium. Potato chips have no nutritional value and are full of fat, calories, and carbs. A lot of foods labeled fat-free or diet are often high in sugar and chemicals. Bagels are very high in calories and are made with refined white flour which has had all its nutritional value processed out of it. Toasted pastries might be convenient, but the crust is made with flour, and the idea you are getting fruit in your diet is just not the case. The filling is mainly pure sugar, and with the icing, you’re looking at upwards of 10 packets of sugar per two-pack! And finally, there is pizza. I had to save this for last hoping I would run out of article space and not have to include this. The reason? Pizza is at the top of my favorite foods list. One slice of New York style pizza contains up to 500 calories and 10 grams of saturated fat. Once you start adding cholesterol laden toppings like pepperoni and sausage, the unhealthiness factor gets out of control. If you are a pizza lover like myself, stick to thin crust and load up with vegetables.

So now the question is, what foods we should be including in our diet? It was long ago that eggs seemed to be a no-no due to guidelines of cholesterol restrictions. Once the dietary guidelines were lifted, eggs grew in popularity and are now known to be rich in proteins and nutrients. Here are some more superfoods that have shown to be essential in fighting heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s and, in general, lead to long-term wellness. They include pistachios, ancient grains, chia seeds, wild berries, lentils, tomatoes, avocado, turmeric, black beans, maple syrup, green and black tea and sweet potatoes. While most of these foods are not generally known as the core of our meals, it would be wise to be creative and find ways to include them in our daily diet. It might not always be the most popular choice of a meal or snack, especially when dealing with children, but when our health is at stake, smart choices are always better than popular ones.