I’m finally going to start talking about food, which many people these days think way too much about. Some people want to know what to eat to achieve a certain goal, whether it be weight loss or improved health or curing cancer. For the purposes of this post, I will discuss “bad” foods you can eat while maintaining optimal health, which is more important than losing weight, but I guarantee you that you can eat these foods while losing weight too.
So, have you wondered if you can really eat sugar, or pizza, or cheeseburgers, and other foods you really want to eat without any remorse? Well, the good news is yes, you can. In my shortest post ever, I discussed how you can eat whatever you want and the method is pretty obvious. I don’t expect the orthorexic people to agree with this but it’s pretty straightforward here. Eating isn’t an intellectual exercise folks, it should be completely thoughtless. Sticking to whole foods is great, and some of these can be part of a whole foods diet (like red meat below), while others are foods you would find in a restaurant and you probably won’t be eating everyday! The key with this list is to really make an effort to make this an instinctual rather than an intellectual exercise. Even better, make it completely thoughtless, but if you can make it instinctual, your body will not eat too much of it anyway because you’ll get bored of it or sick of it eventually.
Now here is the list, enjoy:
1. Red meat
There is no evidence that you will die from eating red meat (including that recent study on meat that didn’t work out). People just want to prove their ideas correct in the nutrition field, and there won’t be any studies anytime soon on people who eat red meat and exercise a lot and don’t do all the other bad things people who tend to eat more red meat do: smoke, drink, have lower education, lower SES, lower physical activity, etc. You can’t trust big data studies on this one. Try to go grass-fed or pasture raised (just go to whole foods for your meat if that’s in your budget) but if you’re in a restaurant and that’s not available just don’t worry about it because you’ll be fine.
If you don’t move and just eat a lot of sugar and develop cravings for it that way, it’s probably unhealthy. But after exercising, something health-minded people want to do, your body may crave more sugar than usual. Health conscious individuals who exercise though often try to limit calories and sugars after exercising because they think it’s full of empty calories. Professional athletes however are known to drink sodas and tons of carbohydrates to prepare for training sessions, because it will help with performance and reduce inflammation and stress form exercise, contrary to what the low carbohydrate diet advocates believe. If you want to get really lean, then I’d agree cut it out, but that won’t make you healthier forever. So after a long day, if you’re craving some sugar, go for it, but no one is telling you to binge on it!
Most people who go on a diet want to cut fat out. Well guess what, eating fat has nothing to do with you getting fat; it has a very similar chance of being stored as fat as any calorie in excess whether it be from a polysaccharide or an amino acid (carb or protein). Consuming vegetable oils (canola, soybean, corn, safflower) in massive quantities is probably bad, but eating nuts aren’t. Butter, ghee, lard, olive oil, etc., are all health promoting and are good oils to cook with (actually butter isn’t a good oil to cook with due to low smoke point). Also if you end up restricting fat, you may end up consuming more sugar. All the studies have shown no benefit to low-fat diets. If you want to consume less junk, try focusing on eating whole foods rather than fats, carbs, or proteins.
A lot of Indian people think ghee makes them fat, when in reality, it’s the combination of milk and sugar in so many different dishes and desserts that does it. Ghee has been known to remove toxins from the body like an astringent substance, so it’s actually good for weight and detoxification for most people according to Ayurveda.
5. Fruit juice
Fruit juice has received a bad wrap because of the fitness industry’s orthorexic and misguided belief that it makes you fat therefore it’s unhealthy. We are hardwired to want to extract nutrition from food and refine it to make it taste better. Eating 5 oranges takes a lot longer than drinking some orange juice where you can get all the nutrition, except the fiber, and pound it down in a minute. Fruit juice contains fructose, which is sweet and therefore it tastes good. That’s how much you really should be thinking about this. If you’re thinking in terms of fructose and the krebs cycle you’re in lala land imo like Dr. Robert Lustig and Gary Taubes (they both have great points actually just poking fun). One quick note about fruit juice: read the damn ingredients. Often, you’ll find white grape and apple juice used to as a filler to make the product cheaper.
I’m not a pizza-craver but I’ve seen more than a few people who crave it, especially during late nights. It has refined carbohydrates and cheese all wrapped up in a hot cheesy red sauce that is probably stress-relieving in some way. Thin people crave pizza all the time so there really should be no remorse for eating it. It doesn’t have to be considered a “guilty pleasure,” which is such a misguided phrase. Pizza can be very health-promoting because cheese is a very metabolism boosting food. Any food that is calorie dense can do this but with pizza, you’re getting some nutrition out of it too: not much but some.
It’s made from cheese, so you’re going to get some vitamin A, calcium, and protein. It’s healthy in moderation.
Continuing on the topic of cheese now, you may be realizing something; the reason why all these foods aren’t bad is because they relieve stress. If you want proof, let’s conduct a study where we force people to fight against their cravings and choose “healthy” options, for a period of at least 2 months, and compare this with another group that just follows their cravings. I bet you that the group that goes with the cravings will be healthier. Now, we could be craving a particular taste, rather than a food with nutrition in it, and not all cheeseburgers are created equal so this could be a problem. Again, aim for whole foods; a cheeseburger should contain meat, cheese, some vegetables and pickles if that’s your thing, and bread. The fillers and ingredients in a McDonald’s cheeseburger however aren’t food so I would recommend against that option.
9. White bread
It’s everywhere, and although it is very refined and spikes your blood sugar and can help you gain a lot of weight quickly, in moderation it’s a good source of calories and betaine even. Empty calories is a huge myth; sometimes our bodies just need calories to increase our metabolism. Some people are indeed sensitive to gluten, and I do not eat white bread myself except when I go out and eat burgers, because white bread contains canola oil and other junk that I don’t consider real food, but if you eat it and have adequate micronutrients in your diet or through supplementation and don’t gain 50 lbs you’ll be fine. If you’re sensitive you’ll know.
10. Other kinds of bread
I had a HUGE fear of bread when I was reading about the Paleo diet. Actually it wasn’t a fear, it was an irrational belief that since our ancestors didn’t eat bread it was somehow wrong for me to eat bread. Well I have realized that the paleo diet is probably the most nonsensical diet out there, as most people agree, and that bread makes me feel full and good. I have no gluten intolerance so I’m happy to eat naan, sandwiches, wraps, and stuff like that anytime. Of course, if you want to lose weight, cutting it out can help, but the most important factor is reducing your caloric intake. The thing with bread, just like cheeseburgers, is that they’re not all created equal. Bread is a product that comes from wheat, or other grains that can pack a lot of nutrition. There are some mills out there still that make bread without all the canola oil and high fructose corn syrup and other cheap fillers you will find in regular bread at the supermarket, so that is going to be my first choice. I don’t crave bread though so I rarely eat it anyway.
11. Non-organic produce
I prefer organic food, but I have met some hard-working farmers that use pesticides that they claim aren’t harmful, and the fact is that without these pesticides they wouldn’t have crops to sell to you. Farming isn’t easy, and most of us are so alienated from growing food we have no idea what the difference between organic and conventional is. If you want to know exactly how it works, try looking up the exact pesticide and doing research on how much exposure you are getting. The other thing is by supporting conventional you are basically supporting Monsanto, which sucks, so I would recommend going organic. But if you’re at a restaurant and aren’t eating a certain vegetable because it’s not organic, just realize you probably have absolutely no idea what the insignificant amount of pesticides are actually doing to do to you.
12. GMO food
The whole anti-GMO movement is full of hippies and natural-everything enthusiasts and not much real science. I am not in favor of Monsanto, so I wish to boycott GMOs, but I have to admit that people are really not thinking straight here. Whenever they hear about a new GMO they want to boycott it but there could be some benefits. Round-up ready corn on the other hand has been proven to be very dangerous to consume, but not all GMOs are round-up ready corn so just remember that things aren’t that simple.
Also known as pop, soda has a ton of sugar. I don’t recommend drinking coke, sprite, or any of those conventional sodas, because well, there are better ways to get your soda fix. I recommend Virgil’s sodas, and Fentman’s sodas, because they use herbs (they claim they do but I can make more herby ones that are better once I learn) and there is actual nutrition in there. Root beer was originally a medicinal tea by the way, but it was advertised as a beer because the guy who came up with it was smart and knew it would have greater appeal that way. The first time I drank Virgil’s soda was the first time I drank soda in years, and it was during a period of time when I was severely overtrained and stressed and the soda made me feel better. I was burning sugar every day from my intense exercise, so why not drink some?
14. White rice
Thin asian people eat white rice all the time. So do fat asian people, but they’re really good at table tennis, martial arts, and have fast reaction times, so maybe the sugars help keep the brain fueled optimally; better than those ketones that the brain-dead paleo people like to talk about. But in all seriousness, even though again, people advertising weight loss routines and supplements claim that white rice has empty calories, there’s a lot more to health than what they say, and the fact is, most people hate brown rice; it doesn’t taste as good and that much is obvious. It also is harder to digest… I tend to have great bowel movements with a spicy Indian curry with white rice by the way: so trust me there is still fiber.