If you drink one coffee per day, it may not seem like it would matter if you’re adding a little bit of coffee creamer to it – it’s just a tablespoon or so, right? But those small, daily decisions are what shape your overall and long term health. A little margarine here, a little canola-oil filled salad dressing there… it all adds up and could be what’s keeping you from reaching your health goals.
These sneaky offenders are not the obvious junk foods we need to avoid, like cookies, bread, dairy, other processed inflammatory foods, so they often make their way into our diet without us even realizing the damage they are doing to our health. Many of them are marketed as healthy or luxurious, so we assume there’s nothing wrong with the, and others are a staple item that have been on the market for decades, so it’s natural to always want them in your kitchen.
To make matters worse, many of these foods are commonly available or included in meals available at restaurants and truck stops, making it difficult for truck drivers to avoid them unless they know what to watch out for.
Coffee creamer may seem like a better option than sugar and cream, especially since you aren’t seeing the white sugar go into your drink, and since you only need a small amount of it, it seems harmless. A quick check of the ingredient label will show you the excessive amount of ingredients used, including artificial flavours, thickeners, preservatives, and often multiple forms of sugar. Instead, try opting for honey or maple syrup if you need a sweetener. Most coffee shops and restaurants have these in packets, you just have to ask.
Corn or vegetable oil: With their clever marketing showing produce on the label, it’s easy to think that these oils are “healthy fats” given that they’re derived from vegetables, correct? Wrong. They are highly processed, inflammatory, and not going to contribute to good health. Deep fried foods are almost always fried in vegetable oils, which is what makes them so unhealthy. So why would we use those same oils in other meals? The same goes for margarine (directly made from these oils, and is even more processed in order to solidify it), mayonnaise, and packaged salad dressings that use highly processed vegetable oils as their base.
Deli meat: “Oven roasted turkey breast” sounds harmless, right? Think again. Filled with a long list of ingredients, deli meats have been linked to colon cancer, and are not a good option for your daily lunch.
Peanut butter: Promoted for it’s protein content (which truthfully isn’t very significant), peanut butter is popular in the health world. Unfortunately, conventional peanut butter is filled with soybean and vegetable oil, sugar, and more. Natural peanut butter (typically just peanuts and salt) is a far better option, but peanuts can still contribute to gut and skin issues for many people and often sit too long on the shelf, causing the fats to go rancid. Almond or cashew butter is a better choice, but should still only be consumed in moderation.
Flax bread, Quinoa bread, or any other flour-based bread that adds seeds to the surface to market it as “healthy.” Don’t be fooled, adding healthy-sounding ingredients to a problematic food doesn’t make it healthy; the flour-based bread is still likely to cause you digestive issues, inflammation, and potentially more symptoms. Adding seeds like flax and quinoa could further irritate your gut. I recommend sourdough bread when available, as it’s fermented dough makes it easier to digest.
Yogurt: Another victim of heavy marketing, with claims of probiotics and regularity to lure you in. While yogurt does naturally contain probiotics, dairy is still a major trigger for digestive issues in many people, and it’s negative effects often outweigh the benefits. Sugar, thickeners, artificial flavours, and more make this popular food a poor choice, which is unfortunate given that it’s a convenient food that can easily be found at truck stops. If you don’t want to give up yogurt completely, opt for plain yogurt (Greek yogurt for extra protein) and sweeten only with fruit or honey.
Brown rice: This may be counter-intuitive, but did you know white rice is actually easier to digest than brown? Brown rice also contains more phytic acid, an anti-nutrient that can block your body from absorbing nutrients. Next time you’re getting a burrito bowl, ask for the white rice!