It is a new year and, therefore, an opportune time to do away with some of the bad habits that derailed your efforts to successfully maintain a healthy lifestyle in the past.
As you assess your progress in achieving your weight loss goals, one of the things you might want to consider is your current eating habits.
Eating the wrong types of food could take away from you being that fit and healthy person you have always longed to be.
These are the type of foods that doctors, both locally and internationally, have consistently encouraged us all to eat in small quantities, if any at all. Although they might take some effort to cut out of your diet, you will be doing yourself a whole lot of good if you do.
1. White bread and other refined foods
They are cheap and very accessible, but a steady diet of white flour, bread, pasta and biscuits could cost you a hefty sum in health care later on in life. That's because products like these are made from refined flour, which is bleached, and provides no nutrients for your body. They are also linked to several cardiovascular problems. "Replace these products with less processed alternatives, such as brown rice and whole wheat flour," says nutritionist and fitness expert Donovan Grant.
2. Monosodium glutamae (MSG)
This is called by many different names, including 'seasoning salt' by Jamaicans. But no matter what name you give it, it will have the same effect on your body if consumed excessively. MSG is a flavour enhancer that could result in damage to the nervous system in the long term.
3. Vegetable oils/margarine
They are often promoted as being healthy, but unlike butter and olive oil, these oils are chemically removed from seeds such as soybean and corn before they are altered and deodorised. Vegetable oils are also very high in saturated and polyunsaturated fats, which are bad for our health. Use olive oil instead, which serves the same purpose but is far healthier.
This affects every organ of the body, especially the liver. Alcohol also has a lot of calories, but is virtually void of nutrients. As such, it is always good to drink alcohol in moderation, if at all. "Because alcohol carries calories, and empty calories at that, it has no real benefit as such to the dieter in terms of helping you to lose weight," says nutritionist Dr Patricia Fletcher.
5. High fructose corn syrup
This is a toxic sweetener that is linked to obesity and a host of other health problems. It is found in a wide range of processed foods, such as crackers, cereals and even salad dressings. Although alternative medical practitioner Dr Heiz-Peter Becker agrees that some sugars are good, fructose is among a list of those he says is unhealthy. "They are more likely to cause things like diabetes in combination with a sedentary lifestyle, obesity, and they can create blood sugar spikes and fatigue," he cautions. "Also, things like tooth decay are associated with refined sugar intake and decreased concentration and hyperactivity in kids."
Don't be fooled, even diet sodas are bad for you. That's because sodas are filled with artificial sweeteners and other chemicals, which are linked to obesity, kidney damage and elevated blood pressure. You are much better off drinking fruit juices or water.
7. Canned meats and soups
Canned foods are very convenient, but they are also high in sodium and some of them have unhealthy additives which are harmful to your health. Tin foods also contain bisphenol A, which protects the processed food from metal corrosion and sulfites to preserve the soups or meats. It is always best to just make soups and prepare your protein dishes from scratch.
8. Fruit snacks
They taste good and are loved by children, but fruit snacks are made from artificial fruits and offers very little in terms of nutritional value. Instead, it is best to have nuts, such as almonds, cashews and pumpkin seeds.
A number of celebrities have adopted the gluten-free lifestyle which, among other things, reduces belly bloat. Gluten is a substance in wheat and some grains which gives foods such as breads and pizzas their stretchy, spongy textures.
10. Artificial colouring
Apart from having no health benefits, artificial colourings or food dyes are considered cancer-causing agents. Artificial colouring is made from petroleum and is used in snacks and desserts which are mostly geared towards children.