As the global pandemic continues to rage on, many find their movements restricted. As we spend more time at home, the temptation to simply order your favourite food to be delivered or heat up a convenience meal becomes greater.
In my own home, I have resorted to the time and tested cheese toasty for my husband. Not only is it fast, it is also tasty and he loves it. Win-Win right?
Or so I thought…..
In recent months, he has suffered some bloating and itchy skin. He even suffered some mood dips after meals!
After speaking to some nutritionists and doing some of my own research, we have come to the conclusion that his body may have become overloaded with inflammatory foods.
WHAT ARE TOP INFLAMMATORY FOODS?
- ADDED SUGARS
Many of our processed foods contain added sugars. With our penchant for convenience, we have ended up buying lots of foods that are either prepared or semi-prepared and if we don’t read the labels properly, one can end up consuming large quantities of added sugar a day.
Research shows that consuming too much added sugar leads to chronic inflammation so if we don’t watch what we eat, this could happen to us.
Common foods that have added sugars in them are the sliced packaged bread that many of us pile into our shopping basket without thinking, biscuits, crackers, granola bars and sauces that we add to our food without thinking – such as salad dressing, ketchup and chilli sauces.
2. TRANS FATS
Like added sugar, trans fats are not found in fresh foods. Rather, they are added by food manufacturers to increase the shelf life of food products through the process of hydrogenation.
Culprits of trans fats are shortening which are commonly found in pastries, biscuits and cakes. Certain types of margarine would also have them.
One way to find out if an item is truly free of trans fat is to look at the ingredients. If you see hydrogenated oils or partially hydrogenated oils in the ingredient list, then the food contains trans fat.
3. RED AND PROCESSED MEATS
Anything that has been salted, cured, fermented or smoked for flavour or preservation would fall under the category of processed while what constitutes red meat needs no real elaboration – basically any meat that comes from cows, pigs, sheep and goats.
Examples of processed meats include salami, pepperoni, bacon, sausages, ham, meat jerky or deli meats.
4. OMEGA 6
While the body does need fats to function, we must draw the distinction between Omega-3 and Omega-6. Research shows you need a healthy balance of omega-6s in your body. Consuming omega-3s (fats you get from foods such as salmon, walnuts and flaxseed) helps you achieve that balance. If you don’t have enough omega-3s and too many omega-6s, you create a pro-inflammatory response and consistent inflammation.
Omega 6 culprits include peanut oil, canola oil, corn oil, sunflower oil and mayonnaise.
5. REFINED CARBOHYDRATES
Refined carbohydrates can have the same effect as consuming too much sugar because nothing slows down their breakdown in the body. They hit your bloodstream too rapidly and spike your blood sugar. Elevated blood sugar creates an inflammatory response – as your body is trying to remove the sugar from your blood, it stimulates that inflammation.
Unfortunately, refined carbohydrates have found their way into the mainstay of many diets ranging from breads to pastas to rice.
However, do not despair, that does not have to mean that we have to unfriend carbohydrates! Far from it. All we need to do is to replace refined carbohydrates with with 100% whole-grain alternatives such as quinoa, oatmeal and brown rice. These take longer to digest so they won’t spike your blood sugar as quickly
COMING BACK TO THOSE CHEESE TOASTIES
Having read the above, it is unsurprising that multiple cheese toasties have affected my husband. The bread alone would have run foul of sugar additives and refined carbohydrates. After you throw in the processed cheese slices – its a double whammy!
That’s not to say that a cheese toasty is forever a no-no. It just means that whilst it is OK as an occasional treat, more care would need to be taken if it is to be consumed more regularly.
What are those steps that we can take to avoid taxing our bodies?
- READ THOSE LABELS
It is imperative for you to understand what you are putting in your body.
If you see sugar or some form of syrup listed among the first three ingredients, that’s an obvious sign that there is too much added sugar!
Secondly, if there is more than 4 grams of added sugars per serving – it is once again a clear marker for too much sugar!
2. EAT FRESH WHEREVER POSSIBLE
There is no real substitute for fresh food. No matter what advertisers say. Nothing beats fresh ingredients that have not been tampered with. There is plenty of natural goodness you can consume if you simply changed your mindset.
Instead of reaching for that bar of chocolate, have a banana or a date. Instead of eating crisps, swap it for unprocessed nuts.
3. A QUESTION OF FOCUS
If you are constantly focusing on what you cannot eat, you are going to be discouraged! Instead of looking at all the foods you can’t have, change your way of looking at things!
For example, adding a lot of rich colour to your plate in the form of different fruits and vegetables, plenty of healthy fats like avocados, nuts, and fatty fish, as well as leaner sources of proteins like beans, quinoa, eggs, and chicken will reinforce the idea that fresh is best.
Simple changes can make a big impact over time without overwhelming you,!
Now that you know what inflammatory foods are, look out for Part 2 which will focus on what anti inflammatory foods are.