‘Foods You Should Never Eat’ lists

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I think this type of list can be useful

“Why I’m sick of ‘Foods You Should Never Eat!’ lists“.  I ran across this article by way of a tweet from @JanetHelm, a colleague who runs the NutritionUnplugged blog:   The author is also a RD, and she did a Google search on “foods you should never eat”.  The usual suspects showed up: corn, bread, cereal, potatoes, etc.

Which got me thinking:

  • Why are truly egregiously awful processed food-like products not on these lists?
  • Why do these lists always condemn real food?

Take bananas.  You’re probably seen those ridiculous ads (thanks Google) that suggest bananas make you fat.  Evidence for that?  There isn’t any.  Nevertheless, the power of suggestion probably has some people avoiding bananas.

The Superfood myth goes hand-in-hand with the ‘Foods You Should Never Eat’ belief system.  If you just pick the one right food, or avoid the one bad food, you’ll be fine.  Unfortunately this type of thinking distracts people from the best strategy: eating a balanced diet.  As most nutrition professionals will tell you, that’s what works, not loading up on acai or avoiding bananas.

Actually I’m not (yet) sick of ‘Foods You Should Never Eat’ lists.  When it comes to some stuff, the word “Never” isn’t a problem for me.  Here’s my list.

‘Foods I Will Never Eat’:

  1. Vitamin Water
  2. margarine
  3. Cool Whip
  4. syrupy sweet flavored coffee creamers
  5. artificially sweetened A.N.Y.T.H.I.N.G.
  6. low fat bottled salad dressings
  7. “energy” drinks
  8. Pop Tarts
  9. chocolate breakfast cereals
  10. cheese puffs

These aren’t the only foods I will never eat, but you get the picture.  Highly processed stuff that may technically be called “food”, if only because you can consume it.  Some of them — like margarine, Vitamin Water and low fat dressings — may even have a Health Halo.  Hopefully Google will pick up on my list, but I’m not optimistic about that.  Lists that warn about the supposed dangers of real foods are much more appealing.  People like lists and diets that give them permission to keep eating what they want.  They’re happy to avoid bananas, while continuing to eat Pop Tarts and cheese puffs.

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