10 foods to avoid and the right way to do it

For many individuals looking to improve their eating habits, one of the first things that they try to find out are which foods to avoid. In this article, we’ll outline 10 types of food and drinks that are less than good for you. But first, we want to spend a minute on the pitfalls of focusing on “avoiding food”.

Healthy Eating

Healthy eating is about more than just eating healthily. For effective development of long term healthy eating it’s more important to focus on building a healthy relationship with food rather than finding foods to avoid full stop. When your relationship with food is positive, you’ll be more empowered to control your diet and keep track of what food you put into your body.

Having said all of that, there are certainly foods and food groups that have a negative effect on the body. While we recommend limiting intake of these foods, obsessing about avoiding them in their entirety is not the right approach. Remember it’s not about what you shouldn’t be eating and it’s more about what you should be eating.

10 drinks and foods to avoid and the right way to do it


1. Soft drinks and cordial

Sugar-sweetened soft drinks and cordial are strongly associated with weight gain. Increased consumption of soft drinks, cold drinks and cordial increases the risk of developing diabetes and metabolic syndrome as well. Consuming sugary drinks just adds unnecessary and extra calories to your daily intake that your body doesn’t need.

2. Diet drinks

We hear from a fair number of people turning to diet drinks but these beverages are not such a good option either. Many contain artificial sweeteners that have been shown to prime the brain into seeking out more sweet and savoury tasting foods and makes your tastebuds more sensitive. Moreover these drinks can also weaken your bones and prevent weight loss.

We often see patients change snack choices when they give up diet soda.

Heather Bainbridge, RD, Columbia University Medical Center Weight Control Center

3. Fruit juices

Fruit is good for you, right? So fruit juices must be good too!

In reality, fruit juices are actually naturally higher in sugar than consuming the actual fruit, not least because they contain the equivalent sugars of more fruit than you’d consume if you just ate the fruit itself. Fruit juices are also stripped of the gut feeding fibres found in fruit. You’d be much better just eating the whole fruit if you’re looking for the fruit taste, nutrients and sugars.

Alternatively, consider veggie-based juices. These alternatives will be significantly lower in sugar and packed with nutrients instead.

4. Alcohol

Alcohol is a classic example of where a healthy, controlled relationship is a lot better than avoiding it wholesale. The general recommendations and guidelines say no more than 10 standard drinks a week and no more than 4 standard drinks on any one given day. Ideally, keep a few days in your week alcohol free too.

By limiting your alcohol intake you’ll experience:

  • Better sleep patterns.
  • Healthier skin.
  • Healthier body weight and easier maintenance of the body weight.
  • Increased immunity.
  • Enhanced mental health.
  • Improved memory.

What to drink instead

No surprises here but water is the number one beverage you should be consuming. There are many benefits to drinking water from enabling nutrient absorption, transporting oxygen around the body, flushing out waste products, promoting cell growth, regulating body temperature and a whole lot more!

As a general rule, the Health Direct website recommends about 10 cups of water a day for adult males, 8 cups for adult females (9 for pregnant/breastfeeding women), 6-8 cups for teenagers and 4 cups for children.

Here are some tips to help you develop strong and healthy water-drinking habits.

  1. Always carry a water bottle with you so you have easy access to drinking water.
  2. Invest in an insulated water bottle so that your water can be kept chilled, especially on hot days.
  3. Try flavouring your water with lime, lemon or mint if you enjoy those tastes.


5. Cakes, biscuits and chocolate bars

It will come as no shock to you that confectionary in general, including cakes, biscuits and chocolate bars, are better consumed in limited amounts. These snacks won’t fill you up properly because they contain very little dietary fibre.

Health eating strategy

If you’re feeling a craving for these foods and, let’s face it, we all do from time to time, here are two suggestions of what to do:

  1. Replace these high calorie and low nutrient foods with something that is satisfying and tasty like fresh fruit or nuts.
  2. Allow yourself some limited confectionary and practice mindful eating techniques to savour and appreciate each mouthful.

6. White bread

Did you know that not only is white bread ineffective in keeping you satisfied but it has very little nutritional value and spikes your blood sugar levels? Fortunately, there are really good alternatives for white bread.

Health eating strategy

Try replacing your white bread with either wholegrain bread or traditional sourdough. Both options, aside from being delicious, are lower in glycaemic index and much higher in dietary fibre, protein, good fats, vitamins and minerals.

The glycaemic index (GI) is a way of ranking carbohydrate-containing foods based on how slowly or quickly they are digested.

Better Health, VIC

7. Fast food

Fast food offers very little in the way of nutrition and despite the immediate sensations won’t leave you feeling full and satiated for long. Increased consumption of fast food will most definitely result in weight gain due to the high amounts of calories, saturated fats, sugar and sodium.

There’s another problem with fast food as well: The more you eat it the more you’ll want to eat more as your body will begin to crave the food. In addition to increasing rates of digestive disturbances and cardiovascular disease, high consumption of fast food can affect your mental health as well and is linked with poor body images.

8. Ice cream and sweetened yoghurts

Ice cream is high in calories, saturated fat and sugar as well. But you probably already know that. Sweetened yoghurts, even the ones billing themselves otherwise, are also very high in calories and sugar.

Health eating strategy

Instead of consuming ice cream and sweetened yoghurts, you could replace them with Greek yoghurt. This type of yoghurt is much higher in protein and better for your body. Sprinkled with some fresh berries to help enhance the flavour, it’s also a delicious option.

9. Processed meats

Processed meats are preserved through various industrial processes such as:

  • Curing
  • Salting
  • Smoking
  • Drying
  • Canning

Meat such bacon, salami and sausages are often high in saturated fat and sodium nitrates which can turn into harmful inflammatory compounds that are not ideal for your body or health. These foods to avoid are also linked to various chronic diseases such as cancer and heart disease.

10. Commercially fried foods

When it comes to commercially fried foods, these items are loaded with trans fats. Many commercial foods that use hydrogenated vegetable oils significantly increase your risk of heart disease and inflammation in the body. They’re also linked to diabetes and obesity.

What to eat instead of the foods to avoid

If you’d like to know more about healthy eating and good foods to include in your diet make sure to check out our article on how to boost your immune system with food.

For more personalised assistance and advice regarding all things diet and nutrition, contact the One Central Health team today on (08) 9344 1318 to book an appointment with our dietitian.

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