Many are looking to improve their health in 2017, but instead of a total diet makeover, making small changes can make a big difference. We asked for nutritionists' recommendations about what foods to leave in 2016.
Avoid the next extreme diet or harmful health trend
"Every year, an extreme diet or restrictive food trend emerges. Remember the Twinkie diet? How about the Master Cleanse Diet where you only drink a mixture of water, lemon juice, cayenne pepper, and maple syrup for days? These restrictive diets can be harmful and may lead to yo-yo dieting with rapid weight loss, then eventual weight re-gain. Whatever crazy diet concoction comes out in 2017, steer clear and stay healthy by eating a colorful variety of fruits and vegetables, cook more meals at home, and learn to love your body."Michele Rinck, RDN (Registered Dietitian Nutritionist)
Celebrity nutritionist Haylie Pomroy offers this:
"If you give up one thing in 2017, give up “free” foods: Fat-free and sugar-free. The problem with these are the chemicals and lab-created ingredients used to create these products. Natural, whole foods are always better for you, and won’t bring your metabolism to a screeching halt."
Kimberly Snyder, nutritionist and New York Times bestselling author, couldn't pick one:
Dairy yogurt: Many people think yogurt is an extremely healthy snack. But it’s dairy. And dairy is dairy. All dairy- including yogurt- contain high levels of the protein casein and lactose, and for these reasons and simply the fact that dairy is created for baby cows, not adult humans, it is extremely acid-forming and difficult for the human body to process. Dairy may also contain hormones. According to Harvard University, dairy products account for 60 to 80 percent of all estrogens consumed by humans. Research has linked dairy consumption to an increased risk of prostate cancer, acne and shown it does not really benefit bone density. Try simply taking probiotic capsules, eating oatmeal or switching to coconut or almond milk yogurt instead.
Processed energy bars: Energy bars are viewed as healthy, even though they’re glorified candy bars with whey and/or soy protein isolates thrown in. So you get a chalky, unsatisfying taste and texture paired with a lot of the bad things you can find in candy bars, like high-fructose corn syrup, artificial and/or refined sweeteners, agave nectar (more on this below), vegetable oils, preservatives and many other kinds of synthetic ingredients. These are best replaced with a handful of raw almonds, and some cranberries if you need a little sweetness, which are equally easy to pack!
Veggie chips: While they contain the name “veggies” in them, don’t be fooled! veggie chips are often deep fried in vegetable oils, which become rancid and denatured by heat, light, time and oxidation. So eating cooked vegetable oils is literally like putting toxic material in your body. Raw, dried kale chips, or even organic brown rice crackers, are healthier alternatives.
Yogurt covered raisins or pretzels: Yogurt covered raisins or pretzels are high in sugar and calories. They also contain dairy (see Dairy Yogurt!!). Try a little bit of organic sulfur-free dried fruit instead- such as dried papaya or Goji berries.
Agave nectar: Many people believe agave is a “healthy” sweetener because it is “natural” and marketed as being low-glycemic. In fact, agave is a highly processed sweetener. The chemical process for manufacturing agave nectar is nearly the same as the corn refiners using in making high-fructose corn syrup from corn starch. Manufacturers subject it to a chemical enzymatic (using genetically modified enzymes) process that converts it into nearly pure fructose (70 percent or higher), and fructose has been strongly linked to obesity, fatty liver disease, and many other health issues. Not to mention that high fructose products, such as agave, have been associated with breaking down skin collagen and aging you much faster. Stay away!
Atlantic salmon: Often called Atlantic Salmon, farmed salmon may be contaminated with dangerous levels of PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyl). These harmful chemicals penetrate the fat of the farm raised salmon (which is especially fatty), and have many negative effects on human health including nervous and endocrine system disruption, increased risks of cancer, immunosuppression, and reproductive problems. Crowded farms can also attract parasites and lethal fish diseases. Instead, try clean plant-based sources of protein such as lentils, organic tempeh, hemp or chia seeds, etc (PS: I LOVE that Berlin is the vegan capital of the world. Go Germany!).