The Do-Not-Eat List

I’ve often said the path to well-being is one of elimination. While normally referring to the extra things we do that keep us busy, but don’t bring us meaning, the advice extends to what we eat. After all, good health is a key catalyzer of the journey to well-being. My challenge for all of us is to eliminate most, if not all, ultra-processed foods (AKA edible products) from our diets. They are manufactured to be delicious, addictive, and shelf-stable, while damaging our metabolic function and driving weight gain, due to high caloric density.

According to the NOVA classification system, ultra-processed foods are industrial formulations with five or more ingredients, such as fats, starches, sugars, salts and hydrogenated oils extracted from other foods. You couldn’t make these products in your own kitchen. They also contain additives and preservatives that enhance their taste, flavour and shelf-life. Ultra-processed foods have been linked to increased risk of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, cancer and other chronic conditions.

Examples of ultra-processed foods to eliminate:

– Soft drinks, energy drinks, sports drinks and fruit drinks.
– Sugary breakfast cereals, granola bars, pastries, cookies, cakes and pies.
– Ice cream, frozen desserts, whipped cream and flavoured yogurt (choose plain and add your own berries, honey, protein powder, etc.).
– Potato chips, corn chips, crackers, pretzels, flavoured popcorn and other salty snacks.
– Chicken nuggets, fish sticks, hot dogs, sausages, deli meats, and other processed meats.
– Frozen meals, instant noodles, canned soups, sauces and dressings.
– Pizza, burgers, sandwiches, nuggets and fries from fast food chains.
– Candy, chocolate, chewing gum and other confectioneries.
– Artificial sweeteners, flavourings, colourings and other food additives.

Yes, that’s a big list. And these products are everywhere. They get preferred spots on the shelves on grocery stores and are heavily marketed. Resist!

Instead of these ultra-processed foods, choose whole and minimally processed foods, such as fresh fruits, vegetables, eggs, nuts, seeds, legumes, whole grains, lean meats, fish, milk and cheese. These foods are rich in nutrients, fibre, antioxidants and other beneficial compounds that support your health and well-being.

Now, go clear out the pantry!