Have you ever chosen a food because the packaging implied that it was not going to make you fat? Or chosen a diet soda/sugar free sweet because it had zero calories? Or bought a ready-made meal, thinking that the manufacturers had your waistline in mind?
‘Diet foods’ are amongst the most common hidden fat traps. These include:
Low fat foods that are very high in sugar (yoghurt, ice cream etc)
There are two problems here:
1. Fat is not the enemy - the wrong kind of fat is.
Fat keeps you satiated for longer, adds palatability to your food and triggers the satiation hormone ghrelin. The only fats to avoid are the hydrogenated fats from margarine or fried foods (including those that are fried in sunflower oil ), and the over-saturated fats that come from animals raised on grain-based feed rather than grass. These include farmed salmon, dairy products from animals that are raised intensively and eggs that come from battery chickens.
On the other hand, grass-fed meat, dairy and eggs, wild salmon, cold pressed vegetable oils, nuts, seeds avocadoes and coconuts are all an excellent source of healthy, necessary fats that will not cause any of the problems associated with excess fat (i.e. obesity, CV disease, etc.)
2. Processed foods are almost always sweetened with fructose (or similar ingredients such as corn syrup and derivatives).
Fructose has now been clearly identified as a contributor to obesity because of the way it is processed, particularly by the liver. It is one of the reasons that the nation’s waistline is expanding at such an alarming rate. In the case of low fat foods, manufacturers have to add even more fructose to compensate for the lack of palatability from having removed the fat.
Whole grain, slow release carbohydrates (porridge, packet cereals, wholemeal bread, whole meal biscuits and crackers, flapjack and cereal bars etc)
A diet rich in grains and derivatives (potatoes and corn) is one that will contribute to excess weight and difficulties in keeping trim. The reasons are:
- All carbohydrates trigger a rise in blood sugar that will in turn trigger insulin to be released to maintain optimum blood sugar balance. Unless you are exercising vigorously, the excess blood sugar will quickly be converted into fat under the influence of insulin
- Carbohydrates and grains don’t make us feel full and satisfied for as long as protein, leading to cravings for more. Eating a lot of carbohydrate makes us feel sleepier and less inclined to expend energy. It also numbs emotions and quickly becomes addictive.
- Carbohydrates from grains and sugar have a tendency to ferment under the influence of gut bacteria, causing bloating, toxicity, and metabolic disturbances.
Diet drinks and sugar free foods
Artificial sweeteners have been positively linked to weight gain, not weight loss! Recent research has demonstrated that our brains can tell the difference between real and artificial sugar - not only are artificial sugars less satisfying at a cellular level, they also increase cravings for the real thing. So artificially sweetened foods and snacks, and diet soda in particular, must be avoided if you don't want to fuel sugar cravings.
Low alcohol beer and wine, fruit juices and smoothies
Just because it says fruit, does not mean that it is non-fattening. Fruits are rich in fructose, so should be consumed with awareness. Fresh fruits are packed with nutrients and fibre as well as fructose. When they are juiced, the fibres are lost, and when the juices or smoothies are packaged, they are heated - losing a large part of their nutritional content and becoming a fructose concentrate. Dried fruits to a large extent have the same problem, and are made worse by the additives and preservatives.
Foods containing high levels of pesticides, and environmental toxins
A recent report from the European commission stated that foods that are not organically grown can contain up to 80 artificial/un-natural chemical compounds that our bodies have not evolved with, but which were recently (in evolutionary terms) developed and man-made. Organic foods contain none!
It is virtually impossible to have an exclusively organic diet, but, whenever possible, choose organic. We are increasingly exposed to high levels of environmental toxins from foods, cosmetics, air and water. Our bodies are struggling to process it all. Recent research has identified that an over-burdened detoxification system (liver, colon, skin, kidneys and lungs) can cause a cascade of hormonal changes that contribute to metabolic changes and obesity.
Consider regular bowel and liver cleansing to keep your metabolism in tip top condition and manage your weight. This is also a great opportunity to reconnect with natural foods and more simple tastes, load up on nutrient rich foods and maintain a positive outlook on life. And, let’s face it - healthy eating and weight management is much easier when we are feeling happy.
The next detox retreat I am facilitating will be held in the South of France near Carcassone and starts on the 5th of May 2012. For more information on the retreats and for a full list of the dates visit www.cleansingforlife.co.uk.