By Wendy Bacigalupi-Bednarz, Editorial Contributor
No matter how we cook them, eat them, drink them or enjoy them, some foods we should just stay away from. Six dietitians weigh in on the foods they avoid at all costs. Did some of your favorites make the cut?
Processed and Canned Meats: “I’ve never tried these products and I don’t intend to,” says Ashlee Wright, a registered dietitian with Orlando Health Physician Associates. SPAM, for example, has a sodium content that “is off the charts.” Two ounces contains 790 mg of sodium and a heaping Helping of sodium nitrate, a preservative. “I’ll stick with my canned tuna or salmon,” says Wright.
Snack Cakes: “ I don’t think a small snack cake should contain 37 ingredients and trans fat. Nor should it last 30 years without spoiling,” says Wright. Her rule of thumb for healthier snacking: “The fewer ingredients, the better.”
Sugary Breakfast Cereals: A sugary boxed cereal isn’t the best choice to start your day, according to Lauren Popeck, a registered dietitian with Orlando Health Physician Associates. “The refined grains plus sugar can lead to a blood glucose rollercoaster, which in turn leads to more carb cravings,” says Popeck.
Milk Shakes: “The average restaurant shake is liquefied sugar and fat with too many calories,” says Popeck. “Make your own blend at home by pureeing a frozen banana, peanut powder and a splash of unsweetened, vanilla almond milk.”
Foods that Are Not Naturally Fat-Free: Fat-free foods are not as healthy as they sound, says Urbanik. “Not only do they lack flavor, texture and nutrition, they also have added sugar or other artificial ingredients to improve their flavor or texture.” People need fat to properly nourish bodies and feel full, so Urbanik suggests that we “enjoy full-fat foods and savor the flavor and other qualities they provide.”
Juices: One of the only positives about drinking juice is that people enjoy it, says Kelly Urbanik, a registered dietitian for Orlando Health Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children. “The high sugar and calorie content aren’t good for your teeth or waistline.” She suggests flavored waters or water infused with fruit as healthier options.
Stick Margarine or Shortening: “I avoid foods made with partially hydrogenated oils, which contain trans fats,” says Lisa Cooper, a registered dietitian and nutritionist with Orlando Health. “Eating trans fats raises LDL cholesterol, which can increase the risk for heart disease.”
Mechanically Separated Meat (MSM): Cooper avoids all processed meats. Many contain MSM products. “MSM is a paste-like and batter-like meat product produced by forcing bones, with attached edible meat, under high pressure through a sieve or similar device to separate the bone from the edible meat tissue,” explains Cooper. MSMs are commonly found in some hotdog and lunch meat brands, but check ingredient labels on other highly processed foods to see if they contain these products.
Soda: Just say no to carbonated sugarladen beverages such as soda, says Gayle Brazzi Smith, a registered dietitian with Orlando Health Physicians Bariatric and Laparoscopy Center. “Carbonation is bad for the new bariatric stomach and can actually cause it to stretch.”
Fried Oreos: This is a dessert trend to stay away from, says Brazzi Smith. They’re “filled with extra bad, deep fried fat!” If these cookies are a must, she suggests Oreo Thins as an alternative with fewer calories and slightly less sugar. Just keep them out of the deep fryer.
Bologna: “This pressed luncheon meat was my husband’s favorite sandwich prior to our marriage,” says Melissa Payne, a registered dietitian with Orlando Health. Packed with sodium and so many other undesirable ingredients, bologna is definitely not “my go-to luncheon meat choice.”
Fried Pork Rinds: “Although I am from South Carolina, you will not see fried pork rinds ever crossing the threshold of my pantry,” says Payne. Most of the calories in pork rinds come from fat, making this a less than optimal snack choice. “Although it has gained some popularity from followers of low-carb, high-protein foods, this would not make my list for even that group of dieters.”
For more food and nutrition news, go to OrlandoHealth.com/Wellness.