15 foods I avoid

You won’t find these in my kitchen

The current buzz about nutrition advice is that it should be positive.  Tell people what to eat; don’t nag about “bad” foods or what to avoid.  Don’t be a scold.  And I try.  But in my opinion, there are foods and ingredients that just have no place in my life.  Perhaps not in yours either.  If nothing else, I would hope my list helps people be more thoughtful about the foods they are choosing.

  1. Palm Oil: lately palm oil is the fat of choice for many processed foods.  Why?  Previously trans fats were used for many of these foods.  Trans fats are the by product of hydrogenation of vegetable oils, which makes those oils hard and resistant to oxidation. But trans fats were linked to heart disease and high blood cholesterol, so food companies scrambled to find an alternative fat that would work in recipes and resist oxidation.  Palm oil met the criteria.  Added bonus, foods made with palm oil can be slapped with a “natural” health halo.  Trouble is, palm oil supply had to keep up with the rising demand.  Large swaths of tropical rain forest were wiped out to make room for monoculture palm plantations, destroying habitat for plants, animals, insects, reptiles and fish.  Organic or not, palm plantations are a blight, and I’m not going to support that.
  2. Margarine: It’s fake butter; vegetable oil ginned up to look like butter, solidified, colored and fortified with various additives.
  3. Coffee creamers: Coffee should taste like coffee, not like coconut or Bailey’s Irish Cream, gunked up with treacly sweeteners and thickened goo.
  4. “Lite” ice cream — ugh. Eat a small spoonful of real ice cream, not a giant bowl of “lite” ice cream.
  5. Whipped topping
  6. Anything with artificial sweeteners, including soft drinks, syrups, frozen desserts, candy or bakery items.
  7. Fake eggs made with egg whites, coloring, flavoring and additives
  8. Shrimp that isn’t from sustainable and slavery-free sources. Which pretty much means Gulf Coast shrimp.
  9. Pork labeled “Moist and Tender”, which means it’s been shot up with salt water solution.
  10. Pop Tarts or any other packaged breakfast bar or cereal bar or sugary “energy” bar.
  11. Reduced fat cheese
  12. Whole wheat pasta: this one might surprise you, but I’m just not interested. From my point of view, it doesn’t cook up right and doesn’t taste right with sauces. And enjoying food is primarily about taste.  Plus I don’t eat enough pasta for that to ever make a difference for my fiber intake.
  13. Gluten-free versions of any food normally made with wheat flour.
  14. Coconut oil: Not on that bandwagon and doing just fine without it.
  15. Low fat or (gah!) non-fat salad dressings or (double gah!) mayonnaise.  Why do those always taste excessively sweet?  I’m not interested in sugary-flavored tossed salads.

I could also add quinoa, except I do have it in the pantry, for research purposes.  I’m just not that into quinoa, despite the PR hoopla bandwagon.  Nutrition people are all supposed to loooove and worship quinoa. I’m just not that impressed by it.

What only 15 then?  Well I could have gone on forever listing individual food items (corn dogs, chicken nuggets, popsicles), but that could end up itemizing everything in the grocery store.  Those are the big ones.  The focus is on foods in their whole natural state as much as possible, minimal processing and additives, with an eye on sustainability.  And of course nutritional sanity.  Bandwagon-free.  What’s on your list?

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