A healthy lifestyle starts with your mind and leads to your fridge. There are lots of factors that negatively impact our ability to stay healthy, starting with the things staring you right in the face. Food trends come and go, but the staples we keep in the fridge tend to stay the same. We did a little digging to see what dangers were lurking behind closed doors. To be honest, we weren’t surprised by the results – they’re all things we know probably aren’t good for us – but we were surprised at how bad these things actually are. Let’s dig into the worst foods in your fridge, shall we?
OLD NEWS, NEW INFORMATION
Condiments and Dressings - The internet agrees on this one. 2009 or 2018, things like ketchup, mayonnaise and sweet chili sauce are just a disaster for anyone trying to be health conscious.
Let’s start with Ketchup and sweet chilli. They’re full of high fructose corn syrup, sugar and salt – none of which are particularly good for you in large amounts. These ingredients can lead to weight gain, diabetes and unnecessary inflammation. A tablespoon of ketchup or chilli every now and then is harmless, but keeping them as a staple in your fridge is not a good idea. As for mayonnaise, whether you love it or hate it, it’s not great. Again, a single table spoon now and then is not bad for you. However, in excess, it’s high fat and sodium concentration can lead to hypertension and other inflammatory diseases.
The same applies to salad dressings. Italian, French, Ranch – you name it, it’s not healthy. Typically used to mask the taste of leaves and add a bit of flavour to a bland salad, using dressing tends to defeat the point of the meal underneath it. We’re not talking olive oils and balsamic vinegar. We’re talking packaged dressings. The sodium, saturated fat, sugar and artificial flavourant content are far from acceptable levels. A single serving is 2 teaspoons and we know that’s never the case. By doubling, even tripling the serving size of these condiments can increase the risk of heart attacks, cholesterol build up etc.
Condiments and dressings might be delicious, but they’re certainly not nutritious. And sure, chucking them in the trolley is quick and easy, but if you love condiments, why not try making your own? There are plenty of quick and healthy recipes out there.
Flavoured yogurts - Strawberry, mixed berry, banana, you name them. Flavoured yogurt is often listed as a standard snack or ‘healthy breakfast’ option when paired with fruit and granola – don’t get us started on this. Whatever purpose it might serve in your life, think again. Artificial flavouring and sweeteners are common in flavoured yogurt – both of which we should all be avoiding! Firstly, the chemicals in anything artificial can contribute to a number of health conditions, including kidney problems and cancers. Even the supposedly natural flavours are manufactured in labs and are only derived from real foods. Be cautious if you think these use the actual fruits for flavour or read more about it here. Secondly, the sweeteners in these yogurts – natural flavours or not – far exceed the daily allowance. On average we are only supposed to have 30g of sugar a day, including those from fruit and veg. One pot of flavoured yogurt (150g) average between 9 and 18 grams. That’s a lot for one portion if you think about the other sugars you’ll eat in a day. Think about that amount of unnecessary sugar over time.
We’re not trying to be the Scare Brigade, but rather want to bring to your attention the long term impact of artificially flavoured yogurt.
Anything fat-free - A couple of decades back, most diets were all about fat-free this and fat-free that. Some of us are still in the habit of drinking fat-free milk or eating fat-free yogurt, or heaven forbid, fat-free cheese. Multiple studies have shown the benefits of a full-fat products regarding both mental and physical health. Things like fat-free yogurt often contain artificial colourants, flavours and stabilizers and additional sugar just to make it taste less bland. The same issues apply here as mentioned with flavoured yogurt. Move away from buying only fat-free products and consider a low-fat or even full-fat options. You’ll feel fuller and probably have less cravings for anything else, leaving you with the same outcome you wanted to achieve buying fat-free in the first place! As with everything though, try not to over do it because someone told you it’s healthy.
Juices and sugary drinks - This one is kind of a no-brainer. It’s no secret that the amount of added sugar in soft-drinks is a hot topic. Many countries have introduced a “sugary drinks tax” in an effort to curb the national sugar intake. If you have things like Coca Cola in your fridge door on a regular basis, just remember that there are 9.5 teaspoons of sugar in a standard 12 ounce can. That’s 39 grams of sugar! 13 grams more than the daily recommended amount for women, and 7g more than recommended for men. Then, of course there are juices… freshly squeezed or not, they’re still a sugar overdose! How many oranges are in 250ml of fresh juice? Between 2 and 4. You wouldn’t normally eat that in one sitting, right? So why would you drink that many? The fact that it’s healthy sugar doesn’t change the fact that it’s sugar. If you love juice, try to dilute it as much as possible
CLEAN UP AND CLEAR OUT
Hidden sugars, added sugars, natural sugars, this-and-that ‘free’, high sodium contents and saturated fats … it’s all there plain as day, but often we don’t know the whole truth. Optimal health is about knowing what what we put in our bodies and avoiding the things that harm itIt doesn’t mean that we have to throw our favourite things out and accept a life of bland food and no joy. It’s about knowing what we’re buying and moderating the amount we consume. Look to stock your fridge with labels and ingredients you know and understand, and make sure to avoid anything artificial. As we said, a healthy lifestyle starts with your mindset and leads to your fridge.