Friday Five – 5 foods to avoid for a healthier and happier life

assorted sliced fruits in white ceramic bowl

It’s the start of the year and if you made any New Year’s Resolutions, it’s likely that one of them related to weight loss. I couldn’t find any UK statistics, but data from the University of Scranton, published in the Journal of Clinical Psychology showed that ‘lose weight’ was the #1 new year’s resolution.

For many people, this will mean taking a hard line on what they eat, which can backfire and lead to binge eating and other unhealthy habits, so how can you make some sensible changes to your diet?

Should you cut out carbs?

Is it OK to eat after 7pm?

What about fasting every week?

What I’m going to suggest is a strategy that is more sustainable and which is specific to you – just 5 foods to avoid for a healthier and happier life.

These are the foods you should almost never eat:

1. Any food that you find addictive

You know the kind of thing I mean – it’s that jar of Nutella that keeps luring you back to the cupboard, or the biscuit barrel… or, for me, the open bag of granola. It can even be snacks that are healthy, such as nuts – the key is in moderation.

If you know that there is something that you eat compulsively, then it’s best to avoid it or purchase it in smaller packets.


2. Any food that doesn’t make you feel good

I’m fairly lucky in that I have a cast-iron stomach, but many of my friends find that certain foods can have unpleasant or uncomfortable side effects. A friend of mine gets a little ‘gassy’ if he eats pork, so that’s something he avoids.

I know it’s not a food, but drinking cola makes me giddy and hyperactive, so I try not to drink it too often. However, I don’t drink alcohol and I do like cola, so I’ve not cut it out completely.

3. Any food you don’t enjoy

At the start of my weight loss journey, I swapped my lunchtime sandwiches for a homemade salad. Amongst the salad vegetables that I included was celery. This may be normal for you, but it was a change for me.

I hate celery. Celery soup is fine, but I just don’t like raw celery. I’ve tried to like it for years, but I’ve come to the conclusion that there are plenty of other vegetables that I enjoy, so why should I torture myself with a food that has little nutritional value?

Beetroot, goat’s cheese and marmite are beloved by many vegetarians. I won’t deny their merits, but as I dislike the taste of them, it makes eating them an ordeal.

I don’t advocate cutting out entire food groups, but if there are particular foodstuffs that don’t tickle your tastebuds, just don’t eat them! Enjoying your meals means that you are less likely to be tempted by unhealthy items.


4. Any food that makes you feel guilty

So many times I’ve eaten something that doesn’t sound like it should be included in a diet plan – brownies, Danish pastries, ice cream, cookies… I have a sweet tooth, but maybe for you, it’s crisps or savoury treats.

The problem is that it doesn’t always end at one item. It spirals. I have a bar of chocolate… and then I feel guilty that I’ve ‘failed’… so I’ll have some cake. Then I give up and have some biscuits… until I’ve spent the day/weekend/week bingeing.

I then promise myself that I’ll start again on Monday… but the cycle happens again. I eat something that makes me feel bad and it escalates into a situation where I no longer feel in control.

Now I decide what is OK for me to eat and try not to be too strict. Eating a doughnut is not a failure, it is part of a balanced diet. As long as I eat well the majority of the time, the odd less healthy item is fine.

5. Any food that isn’t really food

As much as possible, I prepare my food at home from scratch. This is proving to be a challenge at the moment as I only have two hob rings and a microwave (what I would give for an oven!) However, it’s not impossible.

What I can avoid is anything that contains lots of additives – as stated in the beach body diet review too. Instead of choosing a ‘low fat’ yoghurt (that is probably packed with artificial sweeteners), I opt for a full-fat plain yoghurt. If I want a treat, I choose dark chocolate in preference to cheap milk chocolate.

Don’t try to change everything at once. Remember the 80:20 rule. As long as you’re doing well the majority of the time, then the odd ‘less healthy’ meal is OK.

What are your personal healthy eating guidelines?

18 Responses

  1. I’m NOT giving up my cookies!! Then again, I’m not struggling with my weight. When I do, it’s not food types that are my problem; it’s portion control. I LIKE to eat!

  2. My personal eating guidelines follow quite a bit of what you’ve written except for between April 1st and November 15th. During cycling season I can’t eat enough “good food” (meaning lower calorie) to keep my weight up where it should be. Between those days I eat fun.

  3. I am trying to avoid chocolate because it makes me feel guilty and also gives me reflux. Instead if I want a treat I will buy something sweet from a bakery. Yes same bad calories, sugar and fat but no spiral out of control like you mentioned.

      • LOL. That’s a good way to justify it for me 😉 . Love it. (says he as he eats a packet of chocolate coated peanuts and a Bounty Bar because I’m working and my self control is nil while I work – haha)

  4. A good read as ever. I have given up cider for January. I find a lot of the xmas excess is the fact that I’m at home and I’m picking, so that’s my main aim, to stop picking !! You are inevitably hungry after a long run it’s avoiding the temptation to eat “reward” food 🙂

    • I’ve got a kitchen in flux at the moment (original 1970s avocado wonder with orange and brown tiles in my new house). I don’t have an oven and only have two hob rings, so we didn’t really do Christmas here this year… however we still ended up with biscuits as gifts, so I ate a few too many of those. Also, my mum made a wonderful Christmas cake, but I don’t have a slice every day.

      I try to get stuff out before I go for a long run or bike ride. If the healthy food is organised then I’m less likley to opt for something else, but it’s hard!

  5. Ee gads! Don’t like Marmite? How can you go on living! 😉 Steady on the ol’ eating nuts thing though. That’s my (supposedly) low-guilt, go-to snack to stop me eating biscuits…

    • I’ve tried, I’ve really tried. I put the odd spoonful into things like bolognese in the hope it will have a magic benefit without me being able to taste it! In Australia, they tried to lure me into the vegemite vs. marmite debate, but I was having none of it 🙂

  6. For me deciding to only eat plant-based food did the trick. I also like the idea “if your grandmother wouldn’t have recognized it don’t eat it” to avoid processed stuff.

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