My recent blog posts about food—and a recent Bon Appetit article on Snacks You Thought Were Healthy But Aren’t got me started on a list of all the foods we used to eat with gusto but don’t consume any more.
The science of food changes over time, of course, as does our understanding of it. This can be confusing. What was deadly yesterday may be promoted as essential to good health tomorrow. Some experts can, at the same time, take diametrically opposed positions. For example, is caffeine good or bad for you? This scientific confusion has been going on for a while: Woody Allen used it for laughs way back in 1973 with his movie Sleeper. In it, two doctors talk about what constitutes health food in the future. The conversation is both funny and prescient.
- Related Post: Remember When Food Was Good For You?
Our recent trip to New York also caused us to confront some foods that we used to love but don’t even consider these days because they contain ingredients, like sodium nitrite, that contribute to cancer. While sodium nitrite makes meat look and taste yummy, what it does to your insides isn’t as pretty.
- Related Post: Bread and Pickles on the Lower East Side
I know a lot of folks don’t read labels, trusting that food and substances included in it must be good for you if the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved them. I’m not that trusting. The FDA is a government agency and thus as subject to pressure and politics as any other agency. Take their approval of Aspartame, for example.
- Related Post: Fighting Arthritis with Food Not Drugs
So here’s where we stand now on foods we have banned from the table. The list, in alphabetical order is, unfortunately, long. Have We’re all responsible for our own decisions and our own bodies. My goal is simple: When my grandmother was 87 she told me that she wished she was a spring chicken of 65 again. I want to be able to say the same thing to my granddaughters when I’m 95. Getting old is not for sissies and we need all the smarts we can muster to get through it strong, upright, and in one piece.
Some of these foods will be obvious. Who doesn’t like potato chips? Who doesn’t know they’re bad for you? No one, right? Others, like tofu, are not so clear. Tofu is the go-to protein for many vegetarians, yet it’s highly processed, full of fat and salt, and has serious thyroid issues. Go figure.
I remember many of these foods fondly—they tasted so great. Despite that, we have banned them from our table.
|Bacon||Sodium nitrite, fat||Inflammation, migraine, colon cancer||Uncured turkey bacon|
|Baloney||Sodium nitrite, fat||Inflammation, migraine, colon cancer||Fresh sliced turkey|
|Bagels||High glycemic index||Weight gain||Eggs|
|Campbell Soups||Hydrolized vegetable protein, autolyzed yeast extract, MSG||Inflammation, migraine||Annie’s soup|
|Commercial Salad Dressings:||Sugar, MSG, autolyzed yeast extract, hydrolyzed vegetable protein, high-fructose corn syrup||Inflammation, sugar spikes||Newman’s Own|
|Corn Flakes||Sugar, simple carbohydrates, high glycemic index||Sugar spikes, empty calories||Cheerios|
|Corn Oil||Oxidized oils||Olive oil, coconut oil|
|Corned Beef||Sodium nitrite (except for gray corned beef)||Inflammation, migraine, colon cancer||Gray corned beef|
|Crisco||Partially hydrogenated oil, trans fat||Inflammation||Butter|
|Deviled Ham||Saturated fat, sodium nitrite||Inflammation, migraine, weight gain||Nothing|
|Diet Soda||Aspartame, high glycemic index||Inflammation, sugar spikes, weight gain||Nothing|
|Doughnuts||Partially hydrogenated oil, transfat, sugar, high glycemic index||Inflammation||Nothing|
|Fig Newtons||High fructose corn syrup, high glycemic index, partially hydrogenated oil||Sugar spikes, weight gain||Trader Joe’s Triple Gingersnaps|
|Fish Sticks||Partially hydrogenated oil||Inflammation||Fresh fish|
|Frosted Flakes||High fructose corn syrup, simple carbohydrates||Sugar spikes, weight gain||Cheerios|
|Oreos||High fructose corn syrup, simple carbohydrates, palm oil, high glycemic index||Sugar spikes, weight gain||Trader Joe’s|
|Pastrami||Sodium Nitrite||Inflammation, migraine, colon cancer||Nothing|
|Potato Chips||Fat, salt, empty calories||Fat, empty calories||Nothing|
|Pretzels||Carbohydrates, salt, empty calories, high glycemic index||Weight gain||18 nuts|
|Progresso Soups||Hydrolized vegetable protein, autolyzed yeast extract, MSG||Inflammation, migraines||Annie’s Soups|
|Rice and Bean Mixes||Hydrolized vegetable protein, autolyzed yeast extract, MSG||Inflammation, migraines||Homemade|
|Salami||Saturated fat, sodium nitrite||Inflammation, migraine, heart disease, colon cancer||Nothing|
|Tilapia||Fish farms feed them on human and chicken feces||Fecal contamination, salmonella||Other fresh fish|
|Tofu||Fat, salt, thyroid problems||Thyroid imbalance||Nothing|
|Velveeta Cheese||Saturated fat, calories||Heart disease, weight gain||Part-skim mozzarella|
|Vienna Fingers||High-fructose corn syrup, sugar, palm oil, partially hydrogenated oil, artificial flavor, high glycemic index||Sugar spikes, inflammation||Trader Joe’s Cinnamon Grahams|
|White Bread||Simple carbohydrates, high glycemic index||Sugar spikes, weight gain||Whole-grain bread|
|Whole Milk (2%, 1%)||Saturated fat||Saturated fat||Skim milk|
|White Pasta||Simple carbohydrates, high glycemic index||Sugar spikes, weight gain||Whole grain pasta, quinoa|
|White Rice||Simple carbohydrates, high glycemic index||Sugar spikes, weight gain||Brown rice, couscous|
The Dirty Dozen
Essentially we have stopped eating anything that contains the dirty dozen ingredients: high-fructose corn syrup, sodium nitrite, Aspartame, GMO foods, autolyzed yeast extract, hydrolyzed vegetable protein, “natural” flavorings, partially-hydrogenated vegetable oil, palm oil, artificial dyes, and trans fats.
For example, I don’t eat Red Velvet Cake because the only thing creating the required color is Red Dye #5, which is derived from coal tar. It’s implicated in ADHD, inflammation and cancer.
This may seem burdensome, but somehow we still manage to eat well. I don’t clip as many coupons, though, as most of those are for highly processed foods that are expensively marketed and over-packaged.
As I’ve said before, I read labels religiously. I only wish more people would do the same—and know what they’re putting into their bodies.