If your body is a temple that needs constant devotion, the kitchen is the offering that helps to fuel this temple with all the right nutrition and health. However, once too often and more than we would like to admit, the kitchen tends to also become a hotbed for junk and processed food that is not only detrimental to fitness but also harmful to health.
Many of these foods taste good, and sound like harmless condiments but are highly not recommended in the short and long runs. Sometimes our subconscious needs a gentle nudge to work as a reminder as to why these select foods are not the right way to replenish or nourish our bodies. We are using this article as one of those nudges by listing down 14 commonly used bad boys that should never make their way into your house past the front porch, let alone find pride of place in your kitchen.
1. Artificial Sweeteners
Artificial sweeteners can be sometimes 300 to 500 times sweeter than regular sugar and while most of them tend not to contribute to your calorie intake, they often leave you craving sweet treats more than you would ideally when not having consumed them. They are also associated with other health risks such as cancer and poor metabolism.
2. All-Purpose Flour (Maida)
All-purpose flour is usually bleached which means it is treated with chemicals. Why would you want to consume anything that you know has any sort of chemical content as a part of its production process? All-purpose flour is used generally by bakers and restaurants to give a softer feel to the food. Stick to whole grain flours for cooking and baking that add a hefty dose of fibre as well.
3. Fat-Free or Low Fat Dairy
As if? If only the world were so kind to have fat free dairy options for our favourite everyday staples. Fat-free dairy products like cheese, cream cheese, and cottage cheese generally have other harmful ingredients added in to compensate for the reduced fat. Not to mention they almost never taste like the real thing. This one certainly needs to be revisited in the labs from where they come from. Rather, when eating dairy stick to full fat, unprocessed versions but remember to consume these in moderation.
4. Processed Peanut Butter
This major imposter is all things bad and unhealthy when compared to the real deal and we’ll tell you why. Processed peanut butter is packed with sugar and other additives that cause more harm than the peanut does good. Nothing works better than the natural peanut butter which contains just peanuts as the primary ingredient.
5. Flavoured Yoghurt
All yoghurts aren’t necessarily ‘healthy’. On the contrary, flavoured yoghurts use contain a whole of sugar to add that delicious berry blast you taste. Oops, busted! One container of flavoured yoghurt can have more sugar than an entire candy bar. Once again ditch the fancy flavours and try to go as natural as possible with your yoghurt intake.
6. Fat-Free or Reduced Fat Dressing
Another potential land mine that you need to avoid even if you are on a very strict diet to help you lose those unwanted inches and here’s why. Low- or non-fat salad dressings generally overcompensate the paucity of fat content with heaps more of sugar, salt, and food additives. This helps maintain the flavour but does nothing for your health. These condiments do nothing more than adding extra calories to your meal which often go unnoticed.
7. Canned Fruits & Vegetables
Definitely something that you should be canning from your bucket list even before you enter the supermarket. Bisphenol A (BPA) is a synthetic estrogenic substance found in the coatings of canned foods, including beans, fruits, veggies, and soups. Most canned foods also have excesses of salt, corn syrup, processed oils, and preservatives to make them stay edible for the longer shelf life period.
8. Refined Vegetable Oils
Many vegetable oils like soybean, corn, and cottonseed oil are highly processed and contain very high quantities of omega-6 polyunsaturated fats. When eaten in moderation, omega-6 fatty acids are known to be good for the heart. However, when consumed in the wrong proportions, these oils can start a negative reaction to omega 3 fatty acids which leads to bloating and acid reflux issues amongst others. You are happier sticking to good old olive oil instead.
9. Packaged Fruit Juices
This is a common error that people tend to make as far as mixing nutritional foods with packaged junk is concerned. Brands also use cane sugar in packaged juices to help preserve them which adds to your sugar intake. Even in its purest form, eating a whole fruit is preferable over juicing it. This is why you are better off eating the fruit with all its nutrients and gut balancing fibre intact.
10. Processed Deli Meats & Cold Cuts
Meat lovers, this might break your heart but we’re here to bare all today! Sausages, ham, bacon and most other processed deli meats while so tasty unfortunately have a majority of their calories coming from harmful saturated fat. Most of these are doused in brine to help preserve them for longer. And of course, to add the proverbial cherry on top, any cold cut is usually coated with corn syrup and salt to help retain the taste for even longer.
11. Breakfast Pancake Syrup aka Fake Maple Syrup
Pancakes and waffles taste so much better when they are doused and drizzled with this sticky goodness right? Wrong! The combination of corn syrup, high-fructose corn syrup, artificial flavour, and caramel colouring – breakfast syrup is quite literally a potentially deadly cocktail of all things your stomach and your palate can and should do without. Instead stick to pure maple syrup or even honey for use on your breakfast foods and in your smoothies.
12. Packaged Instant Soups
Cream of anything soup is usually considered to be a delicious and hearty quick fix for when you couldn’t be bothered whipping up a full meal. Well, think again. A half cup has 870 mg of sodium. That’s one fourth of the permissible sodium intake for the human body being exercised in juts half your meal. Most packaged soups contain very little nutrition and a majority of flavour enhancers to make them taste the way they do. These soups are also packed with salt, sugar alcohols and hydrogenated oils to help them preserve in the packaging for longer.
13. Bouillon Stock Cubes
Most people think that this tiny cube packed with flavour is the ultimate in kitchen remedies to make any boring and bland food taste better. However this tiny fellow is a major nutritional detriment because of the fact that it is made out of heaps of artificial colouring agents, salt, flavours and hydrogenated oils.
14. Condensed Milk
Another item that is difficult to dispense with because of its delicious and decadent goodness. However, did you know that one serving of sweetened condensed milk has 22 grams of sugar and 40 mg of sodium? Yikes! Also because it is coming from a tin, it lacks other important vitamins and nutrients as compared to its fresh dairy counterparts.
Well, now that you have a comprehensive list of kitchen don’ts it may be time for you to start making the rounds of your pantry and freezer to ensure that none of these terrible foods sneak their way into your storage.
The effort through this article was to help enlighten you on the ones that could slip into your daily cooking habits without you realising just how bad they could be for you and your loved ones. The general tip really must be to avoid as much as possible, things that come out of a can. Anything processed is a health risk in one way or another while everything fresh is just really the way to go. Achieving your health and fitness goals while eating fresh is not only advisable, it is also sustaining in the longer run which means you get to stick to your routine more easily and for a longer time.